Tour De France 2010

This years edition has been widely described as “tough and challenging” and certainly more of a test than the somewhat lame 2009 version. ASO always look to strike balance so that the route doesn’t overly favour the pure climbers or the specialist time trialists. In truth though to win Le Tour you have to be able to be very competent in both. Looking at recent winners of the race in Ullrich, Pantini, Armstrong,Sastre and Contador and with the exception of Pantini all the riders were highly competent in both disciplines. In Pantini’s case it was more a case of being so supreme in the mountains that defecit in time trials was manageable.

The course this year features five high mountain stages as well as several medium mountain and hilly tests. It kicks off next Saturday with the prologue which always provides a good indication of form. Interestingly stage three sees the riders test themselves on over 13km of cobbles. Many of the stronger teams will seek to press home an advantage for their strong general classification men here and gain precious time ahead of other stages later on in the three weeks. As per usual though though expect the race to be decided in the mountains, IN the time trial which takes place on penultimate day or in the laboratory.
I expect Cavendish to take green despite a poor season. He has targeted the jersey for the first time and he has the team to support him.
Nicolas Roche has returned from injury just in time and a top ten finish isn’t out of the question. He showed great promise last year and a stage victory looks more inevitable than likely.

Below are the favourites for the general classification and their prospects in the biggest annual sporting event.

Contador - Hugely talented climber and superb time trialist in recent years. There are concerns over his health, his team, the cobbles and while his form isn’t poor he certainly didn’t look hugely convincing in Dauphine despite promising start. Easily best rider out there in last couple of years and I expect him to win

F Shleck - Excellent climber but recent grand tours would suggest he is simply too poor against the clock to figure for a podium place nevermind a win. His recent win at the Tour De Suisse though has shown he is now at least competent at time trialing. If he is to figure he still needs to gain on his rivals big time in mountains

A Schleck - Like his older brother the Luxembourger is superb when the road goes up. How they will work together will be key to both their chances but in the past their has been too much hesitancy to wait for one another at key stages in mountains. Has had poor season thus far but still main challenger to Contador.

Armstrong - Lance came third in Tour Of Luxembourg and second last week in Tour De Suisse. Results are somewhat misleading though in that he was distanced at times in mountains and unusually for a veteran it appears it is his time trial skills which have deserted him before his ability to climb. He can follow wheels but I think his power has gone. He has a superb team though with eight of the nine Astana team from this year joining him at The Shack. Needs to gain in the cobbles and get off to a flyer to have a chance. If not I think he could even struggle to get a top ten placing

Brajkovic - Hugely impressive at the Dauphine. Contador could only stick with him in the mountains and was beaten in the time trial by the Slovenian. He hasn’t targeted the Tour though and recent history suggests if you don’t arrive in top condition at it you will suffer. Will be expected to work for Armstrong as well as possibly Leipheimer and Kloden

Menchov - Last years Giro winner had a terrible tour in 09. He is talented offensive rider but hasn’t really looked same rider since that Giro win. Bike handling skills are always a big concern too

Rogers - Has had a great start to the season and arriving in superb condition. He beat Leipheimer amongst others at Tour Of California but will suffer from not having team dedicated to helping him achieve good GC placing

Evans - First time in a long time that Rainbow Jersey wearer will be someone who is expected to get on the podium. Balanced rider and for once he has half strong team.

Kreuziger - Very mixed performances in Switzerland suggests he was just testing his legs. Fair bit of promise but hasn’t tended to deliver on this sort of stage

Basso - Giro winner got stronger as weeks went on. No one has won the two races since Pantini and don’t think Basso is strong enough to deliver here though Liquigas will be very prominent

Wiggins - Sky rider says he has lost weight needed and is in top nick. Left a strong team in Garmin to win this. Doesn’t look in confidence but will probably fail to stay with others in mountains this year

Vande Velde - Another crash prior to the tour this time at Giro has affected his preparations. Awful in Switzerland which is big worry. Hope he can deliver but doubt it.

Sastre - Another who has been hampered by injury. Sastre might get a stage win or two but I think even podium finish might be beyond him this year.

Gesink - Really promising young rider who was clearly strongest in mountains in Switzerland. Inconsistent in time trials though. Himself and Menchov could work well together

Big ask for Contador to win this without the support of a top team but if there’s anyone capable of it it’s he. Sastre has suffered since moving (and has lost his own form too) but you’d think Contador will be more comfortable without teammates around him than others.

Would be great to see an Irish stage win alright, not sure it’s that inevitable though.

Live coverage on ITV4 this year (Channel 136 on UPC) and for next three years. Also evening highlights on ITV4.

I meant its inevitable Roche will pick one up sometime. Not necessarily this year.
Forgot Gesink in original post. He has real power in mountains and I think he can at least expect a top ten finish
Are those a new set of rights ITV have got? They chose to only show weekend coverage last year but had rights to cover it throughout. Surprised James Murdoch hasn’t snapped them up given his interest.

Cheers Larry. I’ll go for Contador from Menchov but with no great conviction

Yeah they’re a new set of rights. I believe they’re showing every stage live and in full which is useful, especially when there are clashes with tennis etc.

Interesting. I am pretty suspicious of Sky’s motives and given investment they have made I was pretty sure they would have made a big effort to get it.
Liggett commentated for ITV4 last year while also commentating for US broadcaster Versus. Could never figure out did he just do commentary after race for highlights or what as rest of commentators were different and Versus carry it live.

Nicholas Roche is in the AG2R team for Le Tour but both Martin and Deignan missed out. Deignan has been injured recently but Martin just wasn’t selected which is a pity.

Martin is doing the Vuelta as far as I know. To do Giro and Tour in a couple of months is probably a bit much for a young rider like him.

Have had a look at some of early betting markets and couple of standouts

  • Roche can be got as high as 33/1 to get a top ten placing. He finished 23rd last year which was excellent performance obviously. He is capable of improving on this though as he had to ride for Nocentini when he was in yellow and wont have to make sacrifice this year. He has also known he was part of tour squad far longer and is a year older
  • F Schleck is 16/1 in betting without Contador. He looks stronger this year and probably coming into peak form. His timetrialing appears to have improved based on Tour De Suisse performance where he put in a good performance against the clock.

Andy Schleck for the yellow jersey. :wink:

Nicky Roche is on Newstalk at some stage between 8 and 9.

Didn’t hear it.What did he say?

Didn’t get to hear it larry. He’s usually a very good interviewee so sorry I missed him.

greg lemond on the last word today, giving out about Armstrong saying how everything is going to break quite soon due to the allegations made by Landis?

Really didn’t hear it. Armstrong said earlier this week that this will be his last tour. Not surprising considering investigations that are likely to take place.
Have read a couple of things suggesting he has gotten bit of his acceleration back and he also tweeted the following earlier in the week
Last hard ride before the TdF. Test on the Col de la Madone. Record time? No. Close to it? Yes. I’m ready.

If he is close to his 1999-2005 form it would be astonishing and I don’t really believe it to be honest.

Interview with Roche 22 mins into this

Ah good work Larry. I’ll listen to it now.

Can ye get Newstalk throughout Ulster as a matter of interest or does the signal fade when you go further north?

Signal fades. Where I live coverage is extremely poor. Can get a decent reception at 107.4 but is patchy to say the least

Still haven’t put any wagers on yet but couple of other standouts

  • Sastre is 3/1 to get a top ten finish. While he hasn’t had a great season he has recovered from injury and crucially the profile this year suits him
  • Gesink is 5/1 to get white jersey. A Schleck is hot favourite. I think Gesink can put it up to him and 5/1 is generous.

Anyone any thoughts?

I like that Sastre one anyway Larry. Hard to judge form with all his injuries in the past etc but he has quality and a top 10 should be do-able. In his last 9 grand tours he has only finished outside the top 10 once. Admittedly that was in last year’s Tour but he clearly wasn’t ready for that and you’d have to fancy him as better than 3/1 to get another Top 10.

5/1 is big enough on Gesink too but I don’t really like betting on the white jersey. It’s not that important in the grand scheme of things so can be easily sacrificed for team goals or even for a KOTM or something.

Resident cyclist tipster gerrardno1 has also recommended Cunego for King Of Mountains at 19/1. I’m sticking a fiver on it as well as going for Sastre and Gesink in top ten placing and young rider respectively.