Friday, June 29, 2012

Tour de France Picks

The Tour de France is here! The Tour de France is here!

It seems like this years Pro cycling season has just been flying by.  With so much happening it's been hard to devote some time to who I think could make it happen this year. But here it goes anyway...

Pretty much every single article I've read on the subject seems to think this years tour is going to be made up of the Evans and Wiggo Show. I must admit that it's hard to disagree.

Bradely Wiggins is in the best form of his career. He's demonstrated that with a string of week long tour wins this year. Combine that with a previous top 5 showing at the tour and he definitely has a legitimate shot at it. He's an excellent time trialist and has shown himself to have real poise under pressure.

There really are only two things that I see that could derail Wiggo's charge at a tour win (Besides luck.) First his team. They have shown themselves to be right at his side throught the spring and early summer. But the tour isn't just any bike race. It will be surprising to me if I don't see Wiggins islolated in the high mountains. Second is his climbing ability. With the large amount of weight that he's lost he has shown himself to be an excelent climber. But he can't answer those changes in pace like a pure climber can. People like Sanchez, Nibali, and Evans can all put in a serious dig that will put Wiggo on the back foot.

Cadel Evans... He's as tough as a coffin nail. A good time trialist and excellent climber. He's got a good team. Although not a ton of help in the mountains. Like Wiggins, that could come back to bite him in the ass. He does have a lot of grit though. I've rarely seen him give up. His age may be an issue but I think he's still got a lot of power and will.

Vincenzo Nibali is another that I think has the ability to take the whole thing. He's never been given the captain's chair for the tour and I think he will grab this opportunity with both hands.He's an excellent climber with fair time trial ability. I personlly believe his chances of winning hinge on how little (Or a lot of) time he loses in the time trials. Nibali's team is excellent with Basso as a truly awesome super domestique. Vincenzo could very well have what it takes to go all the way to Paris for the win.

Ryder Hesjedal is my dark horse. Not to many people hav been talking about him because of his win at the Giro this year. Most think that the covited Giro/Tour double can't be done in the modern era. I'm not so sure...
Like both Wiggins and Evens, Ryder is an excellent time trialist. He can climb exceptionally well. But like Wiggo he can't handle the severe changes of pace like a pure climber can. His team is exceptional: Vande Velde, Dave Z, Millar, Martin, Danielson... All these guys are amazing in their own right. But as a team they can produce magic. Especially with Jonathan Vaughters at the helm. The only thing that I really see as a detriment to Ryder is if he isn't fully recovered yet. We've seen it with a lot of other riders, Menchov, Basso, hell, even Contador isn't immune to the lack of recovery time between these two monster tours. But something tells me he might just pull it off.

There are of course a boat load of other riders who have a legitimate shot at the win.  Sanchez, Menchov, Leipheimer, Horner (Or Schleck if he's playing opossum.) and Gesink all come to mind. 

I know I'm going to get a lot of heat from some of my American contingent for not putting Levi or Horner on the more prominent list.  And please believe me when I say I would love nothing more than to see either one of them walk up to the top step on that podium. But I just don't see it... They both haven't shown flashes of brilliance lately. As well as the fact that they both are getting a bit long in the tooth. I could see a solid top ten or maybe even top five. But it would be very surprising to me to see them on the podium at the end. A wonderful surprise though, if I was wrong...

So to put it in writting. Guaranteeing that I get it all wrong. I'm going to say this...

GC Podium:
1. Evens
2. Wiggins
3. Nibali

Dark Horses:
Hesjedal, Sanchez and Menchov

Top American:

Climbers Jersey:

Sprinters Jersey:

What a truly exciting moment.

It's tour time baby!!!!

Rubber side down,

Big E

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