Le Tour de France 2012 is a day away!
On paper it is going to be a race between Wiggo and Cadel, and it is hard to see anyone else good enough to match these two men. As has been noted everywhere, and ad nauseam, this is a Tour with over 90km of time trialling. Considering the miserable time trialling talents of the gun climbers in the race, particularly when compared to how good Cadel and Wiggo are at climbing, the race for third may well end up being a separate battle of the also-rans behind the Wiggins-Evans showdown.
There are three cracking looking mountain stages (Stages 11, 16 & 17) and a couple of other stages that may have a bearing on the final result, but part of the enjoyment and spectacle of the Tour is all of the other elements and protagonists of the race.
The Green Jersey will again see Cav vs The Rest Of The World, and it seems like no one in their right mind would back against the finest sprinter of this era, and a man who may well end his career acknowledged as the best sprinter ever. As the Olympics are a week after the Tour finish, and Cav will need to get himself over a decent hill, so has lost some weight (gravity always dictates how well you climb, so weight is a key determinant of climbing ability), and thus he will not be quite as rapid as in previous years. Couple this with the fact that Sky will be focused on getting Wiggo up for the win, Cav won’t have a team dedicated just to him, and things won’t all go his way.
As for other blokes who might threaten the big two in the overall, Christian Vandevelde (VDV) is an amazing bike rider, a great time triallist and if in shape will threaten the top 5 at the least. Levi Leipheimer, similar to VDV, has a good TT, and can also climb well, but neither are quite as good as Wiggo or Cadel on present form. Ryder “Weight of a Nation” Hesjedal has the Giro under his belt, amazingly good form, and zero pressure whatsoever, so he may find himself as team leader if VDV has an off day, and he will definitely be a threat through the climbs. He is frankly not as good a time triallist as the big dogs, but TTs during Grand Tours are very different to single days, and so he won’t lose as much as he otherwise would.
The teams have all been around Liege for the last week or so, and are no doubt going through their final final double and triple check last minute preparations. It’s an exciting time, and everyone is hanging for the show to begin so they can stop being nice to reporters and sponsors, and start worrying about racing.
We the interested fans are hanging for it as well!
Read more of Tobe’s words on his site.