Who’s going to win the 2014 Tour de France?
Well until Sunday 27th July we probably won’t know for sure (and if day one has shown us anything, it's that predictions don't always go to plan!), but that doesn’t stop us putting in an opinion...
Alberto Contador – second doesn’t count
As much as we live for the day to see another Aussie ride in the yellow jersey, we reckon it could go Contador’s way in 2014. The Spaniard riding for Team Tinkoff-Saxo is a man on a mission. He’s had the thrill of yellow in 2007 and 2009 and during last month’s Criterium du Dauphine he wasn’t holding back. His team there wasn’t as strong as his Tour de France team is assured to be, yet he rode hard – especially during the last stage when he attempted one heck of a chase for the lead. That he failed in that chase is no indication of how he will fare during the Tour – this season so far he’s either won or come second with each stage he’s contested. But will the weight on his shoulders be too much to bare for the Spaniard? He’s proven himself twice - could he come home with the trifecta?
Who’s the thorn in his side?
Well that title surely has to go to the defending champion, Team Sky’s Chris Froome, especially given his team mate Sir Bradley Wiggins (2012 Tour de France winner) is not part of this year’s line-up. There’s no doubt the start of the 2014 Tour should give Froome home advantage – the first three stages of this year’s race take place in Great Britain. But if he’s to win stages here we thought he'd have to contend with sprinting superstar Omega-Pharma – Quickstep’s Mark Cavendish. Also racing on home soil, Cav has the legs for these flat stages but that doesn't stop spills happening, as we've already seen in day one of the Tour (Cav came off just hundreds of metres from the finishing line, taking Orica-GreenEDGE's Simon Gerrans with him). Yes - as the Tour proves time and time again, a daily battle and a three-week war are two very different competitions.
STAGE FIVE NEWS FLASH - FROOME IS NOW OUT OF THE TOUR DUE TO INJURIES SUSTAINED IN CRASHES ON STAGES 4 and 5.
Is the shark in fact the dark horse?
His Italian nickname is the shark of the straight, but will Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali in fact end up the dark horse who triumphs? Until the recent Italian road championships, here was a man who might well have been feeling some pressure. The weight of great expectations can be a truly heavy load, and the unfair reference ‘nowhere Nibali’ had started to circulate – until the end of last month. Now that he’s the Italian Road National Champion, Nibali should be going into this year’s Tour de France with renewed vigour and confidence.
We’re not going to let this slide! As the media sponsor for Orica-GreenEDGE we are 100 per cent behind our boys for this year’s race. They silenced critics around the world in last year’s Tour and, for such a young team, these guys are rounding up the palmares as frequently as we’re changing flats (a lot!). They may not have the GC rolling into Paris, but we think Gerro has every chance of wearing the stage yellow jersey in the first third of the race. Never, ever, never underestimate the patience, prowess and power of the Sniper.