There is only one topic today. It is French and three weeks long. The main contenders are not French. They are Kenyan, Spanish and Colombian. I won’t be in France this month, because I am neither fast enough to be invited, nor wealthy enough to invite myself.
First, Chris Froome, the Kenyan/Brit. As the leader of Team Sky and defending champ, he is the favorite. He knows how to win this race, what it takes (having done it twice), and has Geraint Thomas to protect him everywhere the road isn’t steep, the Mikels,, Landa and Nieve, as well as Sergio Henao to pull him up the steeps. If Sky execute their plan, Froome will win his third Tour.
Of course, the Spaniard, Alberto Contador, has won the Tour
thrice twice, also, BUT he only really has Roman Kreuziger to help him when the going gets UP, and he has the problem of the team working for Peter Sagan at least some of the time. Sagan has the challenge of trying to repeat his Green Jersey heroics in possibly the deepest sprint field (minus Nacer Bouhanni) in a long time. Mark Cavendish might not be what he was, but he has Bernie Eisel, Mark Renshaw, and Edvald Boasson-Hagen delivering him to the final 200m, so it’s hard to bet against him.
The Colombian, Nairo Quintana, is the wild card in the deck. He has the ever-strong Alejandro Valverde as a capable lieutenant, but the rest of the team probably doesn’t stack up to Team Sky. Quintana will be forced to follow wheels and look for his opportunities. Having said that, he’s an immensely strong climber and likeably stone-faced feature at the front of peloton. I’m rooting for him.
On the outside looking in you have BMC’s Tejay van Garderen with wingman Richie Porte, Astana with Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali, and Pierre Rolland, the top French prospect. I would love to see one of these guys turn over the apple cart and ride away with the maillot jaune, but experience tells us it’s unlikely.
This week’s Group Ride, perhaps too predictably, asks, who will win the 2016 Tour de France? Let’s try who AND why actually. I say Froome will win because he has the experience and the strongest team. I say Cav will take the Green Jersey, because putting a middle finger up to those who doubt him is a supreme motivator for a guy some think can’t dominate at the top anymore. Finally, I’ll ask, how will you watch this Tour? Live Update Guy? Television? Internet? I’m curious how many of us have moved to non-televised outlets for our July entertainment.
Image: Heidas (Wikimedia)