In America, the Amgen Tour of California's popularity has swelled year over year. But for the American sports fan, there is still only one race that truly holds any weight: The Tour de France. The cobbled classics are amazing races, but few in America can relate to obscure cobbled roads in Belgium. The Giro is great, but the lack of TV coverage in America cripples the attention it gets in the US. The Tour, with non-stop VS coverage from dawn to dusk, brings each day of the Tour into the living rooms of America, allowing them the chance to see the beauty and power that is professional cycling.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
The 2010 Tour, like 2009, is setting up to be an amazing race. A challenging race course is waiting for the best cyclists in the world, and it is true that the field is one of the most open in recent history. It is often said that the Tour is an "open" competition, but it was never truer than for this year's edition. Just look at the race roster to see the level of talent entered.
Alberto Contador is, without a doubt, the number one favorite. The Spaniard has not lost a three week stage race in years, and he'll look for his 3rd Tour title. Just behind Contador are several other big favorites. Denis Menchov, he of three grand tour overall wins to his credit, has staked his entire season on the Tour, and his pre-race comments suggest that his form is top notch. The Schleck brothers, possibly riding their final Tour under the leadership of Bjarne Riis, will form a fearsome one-two combo against Contador.
Also dangerous is Lance Armstrong and his Radioshack team. The red and black Shack squad will undoubtedly be active early, as the try to deliver Armstrong to an 8th Tour win. And who could forget about 2009 Giro winner Ivan Basso. The Italian returns to the Tour after a five year exile, and he'll be at the front trying to pull off the legendary Giro/Tour double.
For the first time in a long time a reigning world champion will enter the Tour as an overall favorite. Cadel Evans has had an amazing season thus far, and he'll look to at least podium at the Tour after a terrible 2009 performance. Also in with a very realistic chance at a podium is HTC-Columbia's Mick Rogers. The Aussie, like Cadel Evans, has had an amazing 2010 season thus far. All the stars seem aligned for Rogers, it's a now or never moment at the Tour for the likeable Aussie.
Further down the ladder, there is still some serious talent capable of winning the Tour. Brad Wiggins joined Sky in the off season with hopes of delivering England its first Tour title. Like Menchov, Wiggins claims he is ready to win and despite the pressure he must be feeling, he insists his form is as good or better than 2009. Sammy Sanchez, the reigning Olympic gold medalist on the road, is solely focused on Tour glory, and although he may not have the strongest team, the Spaniard has the pedigree to do a good Tour. Christian Vande Velde, always underestimated, is back again for another crack at the tour, as he has sole leadership of a powerful Garmin-Transitions team. And Carlos Sastre, down but not out, will lurk as a long shot hoping for a huge ride on one of the mountain top stages.
Considering the above listed overall hopes, one truly can claim that this year's Tour de France is the most open competition in recent history. They say the riders make the race, and for this year's Tour has some of the very best riders in the world ready to pounce on the Tour parcours.