As the Grand Depart draws closer (Saturday July 5) and my own departure is next Tuesday (July 1). While most people are caught up in FIFA World Cup drama, I have been reading memoirs by George Hincapie and Mark Cavendish, histories of Tour de France, and predictions of this year’s race.
Bicycling Magazine recently tweeted their 10 contenders to watch, including:
1 Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank)
2. Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida)
3. Chris Froome (Team Sky) Defending Champion
4. Michal Kwiatkpwski (Omega Pharma Quick Step)
5. Bauke Mollena (Belkin)
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
7. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
8. Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharpe) USA
9. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Beisal)
10. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) USA
Velo News has a more complicated rating system in their Tour de France 2014 Official Guide. To summarize:
PTS RIDER (TEAM)
39/40 Chris Froome (Team Sky)
38/40 Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank)
37/40 Vincenzo Nibali
33/40 Tejay van Garderen (BMC)
33/40 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
32/40 Bauke Mollema (Belkin)
31/40 Jurgen Van der Broeck (Lotto-Belisol)
31/40 Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp)
Reading through the route highlights, there are unique challenges to almost every one of the 21 stages. Yorkshire is hilly though the finish at Harrogate will give Mark Cavendish an opportunity to win Stage 1 and the yellow jersey in his home country. Stage 3 will be an exciting finish in London. Stage 5 has cobbles. There are two uphill finishes, and 2 Alpine mountaintop finishes. This is a tour for climbers and only one time trial. I feel bad that Movistar sent Nairo Quintana to Giro D’Italia instead of giving him a chance to move up the podium from second to first. Other fans are disappointed that Froome was chosen over Bradley Wiggins on Team Sky.
This week the Trek Racing Team announced their team for the 2014 Tour de France. It includes my favorite rider Jens Voigt starting his 17th tour (tying George Hincapie’s record). I hope I get to meet him and the other team members (Fabian Cancellara!) in Yorkshire.