- Dec 21, 2004
- 'north munster'
i'm coming out of the closet as a pro cycling fan. the big one stars on saturday in vendee. LA gear is retiring afterwards. armstrong claimed over the winter he might skip the tour and concentrate on other races - nonsense which was never on the cards. instead he showed less interest in the other races than ever only riding one classic (flanders) rarely racing with a total of 0 victories so far this this season. for someone who has been given so much he could have put on a show for the punters for once but - no he took the safe option again. it makes me sad the tour gets so much attention at the expense of the rest of the season. in the giro (tour of italy) perhaps no more of than 40% of the top 100 ranked riders start. in the tour it is about 55% in recent years showing within the sport there is a a lot more than just one race. some PREDICTIONS: WINNER OVERALL : armstrong's got to be the favourite. just give us a more open race than last year please. GREEN JERSEY: TOM BOONEN ( Quickstep) he's ready for this. MOUNTAINS JERSEY: i think a lot of french riders wil covet setting the pace in this one but ther is no obvious canidate to win this. christophe moreau ( ex festina 98 scandal) is i believe the only current french rider who's finished in the top ten on the tour. so i'll play it safe and go for ALEX VINOKOUROV ( T- Mobile) he needs something to keep him busy if ullrich going better than him. WHITE JERSEY- BEST RIDER UNDER 25 : ALBERTO CONTADOR ( 22, Liberty Seguros) recovered from a seizure and brain clot surgery last year to win catalan week and 2 stages plus 3rd place in tour of basque country. has been quite since though.... frank schlek ( 22, team csc) also finished 4th tour de suisse recently so he should be strong too. HOW WILL THE FRENCH RIDERS GET ON? since 1998 strict drug testing has entered french cycling which now has never been weaker. the three remaining pros fom the festina scandal rous 35, brochard 37 (le mullet) and moreau 33, are probably been the most sucessful french riders still racing. but i am very supportive of the new generation who hopefully ride in a different atmosphere. my favourite is David Moncoutie ( 30, cofidis) he has ridden and finished 5 tours winning a stage last year but has only one high GC finish 13th in 2002 - three weeks is too long. this year he won the mountains jersey in paris-nice plus 3rd on a stage, a mountain stage in basque tour, was 3rd on a stage and overall in tour of catalonia and 2nd stage and 6th overall in dauphine libere (LA was 4th). he is strongly anti doping and refuses to ever use syringes. a stage win by breakaway in the hills or mountains is his most likely route to sucess. there are plenty of home riders capable of winning a stage but it's hard to see any home glory beyond that. Pineau and Chavenel look particularly good. the bouygues telecom team is totally french two of the afore mentioned old farts plus otherwise young riders. ................................ there is no irish chaps this year MARK SCANLON had health problems this season and wasn't in contention to be selected for ag2r.