Friday, July 1, 2011

Tour de France 2011

Another second place for Cadel? I think so, but whether that will still be the case on August 3 that's another question. Contador is certainly the favourite – no-one could touch him in the Giro and you cannot imagine anyone putting much time into him in the mountains or in the time trials. It will be interesting to see how much a very hard Giro did take out of him and whether he is completely recovered, but his winning margin was so great that even with the superior field at the Tour there doesn't look like anyone who could realistically knock him off the top spot.

Cadel looks much improved this year and I think he can really challenge Contador. His team is much stronger and winning the World Championships seems to have given him a much needed psychological boost. It will be interesting to see if he can attack in the mountains, but with good team and individual time trials it may not matter.

It would be great to see Wiggins and Sky get on the podium. They have a really strong team and I think will surprise a lot of people this year. I am worried that Bradley may have peaked slightly too early and think that he will lose a bit of time in the third week, but hopefully that should still be enough to hold onto third place.

Gesink and Roche are both a bit of a long shot, but I think that they are both riding well and ready to step-up to highest levels. I am so impressed with Roche that he even made the cut in my Tour de France fantasy team.

But there is one big name that we haven't mentioned yet: what about Andy Schleck? His form seems to be off this year and unless he has been doing some serious bluffing I don't think he will be one of the contenders this year. It is possible that he may ride himself into form over the three weeks, but I would bet that his brother Fränk finishes higher than him this year.

This will be the year that everything goes to plan for Mark Cavendish and I am looking forward to seeing him take the green jersey in Paris for the first time.

And my favourite jersey – the maillot à pois – will again be the consolation prize for a plucky unheralded Frenchman. This year I think it will be Jean Gadret's turn, followed closely by last year's winner Anthony Chartreau.

1 Alberto Contador
2 Cadel Evans
3 Bradley Wiggins
4 Robert Gesink
5 Nicolas Roche

1 Mark Cavendish
2 Thor Hushovd
3 Tom Boonen
1 Jean Gadret
2 Anthony Charteau
3 Samuel Sanchez

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