Yeah, it's already three stages into it, but the real action has yet to begin, and I suspect I'm not the only one who's just now getting interested. Especially with an excellent edition of the Dauphine Libere climaxing just Saturday. So here are some descriptions and resources for following the Tour-before-the-Tour.
First off, the official website: Here. It's pretty fancy looking, but it's also only in French and German... begging the question, is it OK for a national tour to ignore two of its national languages? Not that I was counting on the Romansche version. Anyway, the only useful info is in the downloads section, where you can get a good startlist, and a look at all the stage profiles.
- Where to watch? Why, Cycling.TV of course. CyclingNews isn't doing live updates, making the Podium Cafe your best bet for running commentary. More on the flip...
- I'm not alone in being slow to preview this race; so far all I can find is Cycling News's. And to them, it's really just ten days of Ullrich-speculation.
- Wikipedia as usual has some history and winners list, though in brief as compared to, say, the classics. Although it's not easy for the home country to produce a winner, but it hasn't been a complete wipeout either. Jan Ullrich lives there now, so his win two years ago bears mentioning, while Alex Zulle and Oscar Camenzind both brought home wins for the locals in the new millenium.
- How it's going to play out: Stage 5 is the only true uphill finish, atop the Cat-1 Leukerbad, while stages 6-8 all go over major climbs but finish in the valleys. That said, among the guys who can climb, Sunday's 30km time trial should produce the winner. I suppose that's why Ullrich won in 2004.