Like any half decent form guide, the first thing that needs to be considered is the track. The 2010 Tour de France will be one of the hilliest in recent memory with riders needing to negotiate their way up the famous Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees not once but twice. Six challenging mountain stages will ensure this year’s event won’t be easy on the sprinters.
Here at bikeExchange.com.au we think we’ve got the 2010 Tour de France field reduced to five main contenders.
|ALBERTO CONTADOR - ASTANA|
Clear favourite. Two time winner and last year’s champ, Contador is the man they all have to beat. Has the speed up the hills and form on his side. The Spaniard is coming off a 2nd place in the Criterium du Dauphine and victory in the Paris-Nice. His personal battle with Lance Armstrong will add spice to the race but don’t expect it to affect him.
|LANCE ARMSTRONG – TEAM RADIOSHACK|
The seven time winner is back for another crack at the 2010 Tour de France and as always will be one of the leading contenders. After three years in retirement, Armstrong returned last year to finish 3rd behind then teammate Contador. With no choice but to end his successful relationship with the Astana team, Armstrong will this year compete for Team RadioShack. Team manager Johan Bruyner has been reported as saying the 38 year old is struggling for form. His recent crash in the Tour of California hasn’t helped but if there’s one thing to always remember when looking at form it’s this: Never underestimate a champion.
|CADEL EVANS – BMC RACINGTEAM|
Australia’s best chance at claiming cycling’s biggest prize again lies with 2009 Road World Champion Cadel Evans. Runner up in 2007 and 2008, Cadel slid down the rankings last year to finish 30th. A change of team, combined with the course layout should see Cadel right back up there this year. The absence of a team time trial this year is a big plus and who knows, the 2010 Tour de France yellow jersey may well be headed down under.
|ANDY SCHLECK – SAXO BANK|
The rising star of world cycling, 25 year old Schleck finished second in last year’s Tour de France, scooping up the Best Young Riders Jersey along the way. Hit by a car in December, Schleck has had an indifferent season to date but insists he is in better shape than this time last year. Contador also views Schleck as the biggest threat to his crown so he must be respected.
|IVAN BASSO – LIQUIGAS|
The controversial Italian is back after a two year absence due to a doping suspension. Fresh from victory in the Giro d’Italia, Basso is flying at the moment. Once seen as the successor to Armstrong’s throne, Basso is now fighting to regain respect in the cycling community. As stated the 2010 Tour de France could be won or lost in the hills and while this is where he excelled in the Giro, it may have taken its toll on the comeback kid.
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