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ToC Preview

Since I can't find a complete start list yet, and I don't have time to do it Saturday, here's a quick and dirty review of the stages and some guesses on my part of who might be in form for an early season win. I know the US Domestic teams will be getting into any and all breaks, but since I have no idea of who's riding it's pretty tough to say who's going to have a chance at a stage win. If I get the time on Saturday I may amend this, stay tuned.

The Teams


The Stages

On the flip.............

The prologue is a tad over 3K, with a nastyish LBL type non-cobbled climb up Telegraph hill covering the last 800 meters. Guys who can produce some extended power and climb some will be on top (Levi,Danielson, Hincapie, Cancellara,  Chris Horner, Mick Rogers, Jens Voigt, Dave Z. and Nathan O'Neil.)

Stage 1 - very bumpy in the beginning, bumpy near the end, plenty of time to regroup for the big gallop. Probable winners - Ciolek from T Mob, Thor, Freddy Rodriquez, Bettini, Matteo Tosatto, Graeme Brown (playing the role of Rene Hasselbacher)

Stage 2 - Very bumpy for the first half, slightly dowhnill and flat for the last half. Same suspects as above.

Stage 3 - Very bumpy for almost the last 3/4 of the stage. The final climbs finish with less than 16K to go so I think a breakaway succeeds here. I'm picking Horner, Hincapie, and Stuey O'Grady to be in the final selection, along with Fabian Wegman and 4 guys from domestic teams. O'Grady takes the win by a hair over George.

Stage 4 - Bumpity, bumpity, bump for a long 215K. Guys looking forward to MSR will be stretching it out here - Bettini, Tosatto, Rodriguez.

Stage 5 - easy start, slight rise halfway through, dowhnill from there. Another field sprint, with Thor feeling strongest.

Stage 6 - Finally some early season extended climbing. Basso finally shows himself at the front, though he's not going for the win but merely stretching himself out a bit. Danielson wins instead and takes the lead.

Stage 7 - Kermesse!........uh, Circuit Race! Rodriguez says he's lost 8lbs since last season and it's made him faster. I'll take him at his word and give him the victory and the points jersey.

I know I've tilted this towards all the Pro Tour teams and that's not a slight to the domestic squads - they'll have plenty of guys getting top 10's in every stage. But until I see some start lists it's hard to speculate on who they might be.