Predicting the outcome in a bike race can be like trying to tell the upcoming weather. You may think you see a pattern, but chaos eventually ensues leaving your predictions looking like the ramblings of a madman. Nevertheless though, predicting things can be fun, so EP will take a stab at 5 bold predictions for this year's Tour de France. Please just remember to take it easy on us if chaos ends up ruling this year's edition of the Tour de France.
1. Robert Gesink, not a Frenchman, will win the KOM title at this year's Tour
Many are predicting that a French rider will emerge as the winner of the polka dot jersey come Paris in about three weeks time. Robert Gesink however is a pure climber capable of staying with the world's best on the uphills. He'll likely lose a chunk of time over the first week of racing, which should afford him a chance to set out on his own in search of the climber's jersey. Gesink has been touted as a possible TdF winner for the future, and he'll make good on that promise with a KOM jersey for 2009 in his first attempt at the world's biggest bike race.
2. Luis Leon Sanchez will notch a top 5 result in the overall at this year's Tour
Perhaps more than any other rider, Sanchez has benefited greatly from Alejandro Valverde not starting this year's Tour de France. A young, yet experienced stage racer, Sanchez seems poised for a breakout performance in this year's Tour. In fact, even before Valverde was definitively ruled out of this year's Tour, the media had already been talking Sanchez up as a possible dark horse leader for the Caisse d'Epargne team. A dark horse no more, Sanchez will time trial well, follow wheels in the mountains, and deliver a top 5 result on the overall in 2009. For 2010, he'll be a favorite to win.
3. At least 5 riders will be caught as cheats during the Tour
With the UCI promising more tests than ever before, cheats will have nowhere to run for this year's race. Last year several riders were caught out, and 2009 will be more of the same. Hopefully the Tour will be able to withstand yet another year of dopers being caught, as the battle to rid cycling of cheats continues.
4. Nicolas Roche or Dan Martin will win a stage for Ireland in this year's Tour
Nicolas Roche has had a nice 2009 season thus far, but the Irishman is desperate to break through with a huge win. Riding for an Ag2R team that is completely devoid of GC candidates, Roche will have a good chance to get into a breakaway at some point or points throughout the Tour. Meanwhile, his countryman Martin will have more responsibility in supporting Christian Vande Velde's GC efforts, but he still may get a chance to go up the road in one of the mountain stages. With the right legs, perhaps the ultra young Martin will win a stage in his first try in the Tour. Either way though, between the two, it seems like Ireland may be due for a big result at the Tour after years of obscurity.
5. Cervelo TestTeam will be the most dominant team at this year's Tour
Between 2008 defending champion Carlos Sastre, former green jersey winner Thor Hushovd, and young up and coming sprinter Heinrich Haussler, the Cervelo TestTeam have a legitimate chance to win stages with three different riders. Sastre's durability is well-suited to the 2009 race route, while Hishovd and Haussler provide a one-two sprinting punch that is hard to rival. In only their first season, the Cervelo TestTeam have established themselves as one of the most feared teams in all of cycling. Expect that trend to continue at the 2009 Tour de France.
Bold predictions for a bold Tour, courtesy of EuroPeloton. Hopefully we'll get at least one right!