So who are my Top Five and why?
I don't even know that I am all that interested in what I think at this point, but hey this is the internet! If the internet has taught us anything it is that every moron on the planet is entitled to share his random/useless/uninformed/poorly researched/horribly written opinion, with an unsuspecting public.
So the guy who's wife just did a bunch of hard work to bring his third child into the world, and will be further earning his Tired Dad stripes is going to pick these Five Guys.
Oh the (hopefully) interesting stuff about Bike Racing will be below the flip....
Andy Schleck: I know others have pointed to him but I will be the first to throw my hat into the ring and cast a vote for Andy to win the whole show. Perhaps I have more hope than sense, or less sleep than actual cycling knowledge, but I believe that Andy is growing in stature, already a great GT rider he is getting better coming into his own and entering that peak of cycling maturity.
This is a point that the Accountant has already crossed. He is in his prime. I believe that Andy will be better at this years Tour. I also believe that this years tour will be about Attack. All out Attack, the only thing that might stop this is the Shack engine. If the Shack degenerate this race into a negative contest there is one sure outcome. An AC win.
If Sexy Back ( I will miss the nick name the most) get to dictate this tour, AC will be isolated early and often, given the one two by the Brothers Shleck. Others here have said that Frank will not sacrifice his podium for his bro but I disagree. I believe that a Shleck win is the motivating factor for both brothers. The strongest Team plus the Best Domestique puts my vote strongly in the Shleck Camp.
Oh, and from all I've seen the only times AC has seemed out of his element and capable of losing, is when he has been isolated early on long multiple mountain days. Single mountain days that end with a climb are the best days for him. This makes Sexy Back strategy clear on stages 7,8,9, 14, and 16. I believe the Alps may be more decisive than expected and the Sexy Back Attack will be all out.
Samuel Sanchez: It says here that while I don't believe he will or can win, This 32 year old has all of the tools. He can climb, he can TT, he should have focused on the Vuelta. Alas he didn't focus on the Vuelta. The question now is does Sam San actually try to win the whole thing or does he do a reverse Pelizotti (including not cheating) and go for stages and the KOM not killing himself and then go on to win the Veulta. Only time will tell but he is incredibly talented, loyal, and likable. He deserves a good result.
Le Grand Boucle, however,gives you what you earn and not what you deserve. So hopefully Sam San earns a stage or two and the KOM, but will likely end up solidly and anonymously ensconced in the top ten.
Louis Leon Sanchez: Lulu is another rider with all the tools, he also has an incredible team at his disposal. Lulu can climb, but can he climb with the best when he is the leader? He can TT, but can he produce a stunner at the end of three weeks? He is 27, is he young/old/peaking/peaked? Lulu is a total question mark, the only thing we await are answers.
I believe he is A young GC contender who will surprise on the High Mountain passes and Blitz the final TT. He is a dark horse completely shrouded in the unknown. He has often ridden well in the shadow of Banverde, now it is his chance to shine, can he show his team that they do not need AC, or will he hand in his application for the domestique number one role for AC next year?
Oh Grand Boucle we will know the answer to many questions so soon!! A hard place to have your first and possibly last test, will Lulu Shine or fade?
Remy Di Gregorio: It must suck to be the next big thing in French cycling. You are expected to win the Tour at 19 and win it every year for the rest of your life. Remy will not win the Tour. Remy is unlikely to win a stage. Remy will be on the attack on more than one occasion. Remy will energize those stages and I will root for him to win (and yes aussies if you need me to I will do that as well, not that I think it will help him but just for fun). Remy is a Lovable Loser in cycling, bur remember, until last year Thomas Voekler was much the same. Remy is not Richard Virenque, though the whole world (well me) wishes he was. ALLEZ REMY!!!!
Jurgen Van Den Broek: The new Belgian Climbing Sensation. The nBCS must be on notice that this is his one chance to shine. Cadel jumped ship when it was to late to replace him, and that left OLO with only one GC guy. The nBCS must do well this year or he is simply auditioning to be Roman Kreuzigers domestique. If the nBCS is anonymous he will be forgotten by the OLO leadership, at 27 he is not young. He must capitalize on his freedom, a rider must always ask what could I do if I were the leader?
Well Jurgen, now you are. I would recommend a stage and top 20 over anonymous top 15. Go for it! Try to win something, be impressive. Once during this Tour assert yourself on a stage. If you can do this you will do yourself a world of good. If you can't, well, have fun being second fiddle to the Chezch sensation.