[editor's note, by chris] Re-posted...
I had so much fun running down the teams of the of the Giro that I'm going to engage in the same antics for the CDL. This time I'll cover the stages and try to get a bit of a team rundown in as well.
The CDL is best known as a mini TdF due to its position in the calendar a month prior to and often covering some of the same roads as the upcoming Tour.
The big guns often show here with also Tour big wigs going back to Bobet in '55. In fact, the winners here are a who's who of the greats, Anquetil, Poulidor, Ocana, Merckx, Thevenet, Hinault, Lemond, Indurain and Armstrong. Well, you get the picture... this is THE show before the tour. The TdSwiss may be big race #4, but this is where the big guns perennially show or hide their form before the Tour.
This year is no exception. The CDL kicks off this Sunday, June 10th with a roughly 4k contre la montre in Annecy. Flat as a pancake, look for LL, Valv.Piti, Millar, Jullich or Vino to via for the win.
STAGE 1 is a 200k sprinters stage with some hills near the end that might allow the likes of Little Tommy V., Casar, Fofonov or some other desperate Frenchy to try to hold off the QS train, who will be driving it for Boonen.
Stage 2 is a harder version of Stage 1, with much more of a sting in the tail... if Tommeke did not win yesterday, look for him to have his boys drilling it over the Cote de Duerne hell bent for the downhill run into Saint-Galmier. Another 200k+ day.
Stage 3 will definitely NOT end in a mass sprint, because it is actually a long ITT... oops. So look for a very different type of fireworks here. Again, LL is my man for this, but he'll have a tough ride against Vino and Sastre and those other hard dudes.
Stage 4 gets to the business with a 180k stage to the top of the Ventoux! Can you say OMG! This will be one to watch. All the big boys will be out, eying one another, bluffing, sandbagging and going balls to the wall up this killer (sorry Tom) of a climb. I'd say LL will show here in a big way to try to gain some cred for the Tour. Vino will play it cool, relying on those Walter G. saddlebags of courage to come good for him in July. Other hard pipe hitters here will be anyone from E-E, Beltran, Cadel, Kash or a still on form Peep.
Stage 5's 155k trip over the Col d'Izoard into Briancon is another distilled Tour stage. Any of the above riders looking to take out the GC will have to ride hard today. I expect we'll see Disco on the front with attacks by the other contenders, Valv.Piti and Vino.Piti/Kash. over the top.
Stage 6 shares much of the same terrain as Stage 9 of this year's TdF, except backwards. Both include the Hors Cat. Galibier, in this race, they go up the side from les Bains... in the Tdf they'll go up from St. Jean de Maurienne side. Both will be full bore mountain days. In addition to the Galibier, Stage 6 will also bring the pain with the HC Croix de Fer and a finish at La Toussuire. No doubt anyone with an eye to July will want to be at the head of the pack today. This is the last big Mt. day of the race and will be hotly contested. Perhaps a one off climber will get away with an eye toward the KOM jersey, but the GC guys will be in full effect.
Stage 7 is the final day, a long downhill run to a series of cat 3's and 4's will be another day for a break to go. Though the gaps on the GC will likely be close at this point I think the winner will have already been sorted out in the past three stages.
Well that's the stages, I've mentioned some of the riders to look for and a glance back at the start list tells me that there aren't too many more to be looking for (my luck, Wegmann will run away with the thing). Astana will most likely try to hand this to Kash. in the way that Lance gifted Tyler in 2000. LL will be motivated to repeat, but with DumBasso out of the mix, he'll have his eyes on July. Cadel should give this a good run, I can't imagine that another top 10 at the TdF would be worth more than a win here for him. Menchov will also be here... hard to say what Rabo's intentions are... they look like a team that could support some GC work for the week, again it will come down to his motivation and his goals for July.
Kash, Cadel, Menchov... those should be the top contenders. With LL, Valv.Piti and Vino. Piti keeping their powder dry until later. Oh yeah, Contador... will he have regained his Paris-Nice form and blitz these boys over the big hills? Will Tommy D finally show his stuff...? Will Landaluze repeat from '05, will OP give up on his DNA? Only time will tell.