Who will win the Tour de France (if it isn't Bradley!!)
With just over four weeks until the start of the Tour de France, now seems a good time to have a laugh at some of the other 'favourites' who will be left trailing in Wiggo's wake...
As the magazines and guides start to fill the newsagents shelves, our minds can start to turn to the start of the Tour de France ... in Belgium ...
We all know who we want to win, and I don't want to mention him for fear of being a curse. And of course I have previously stated on this very blog that I dont think he could ever win it... humble pie could be in the oven by the end of next month.
But who else could win this flatter, less mountainous, time trial friendly Tour?
Cadel Evans - This guy doesnt seem to be your stereotypical happy go lucky Aussie. In fact far from spending his off season eating prawns on a beach in his budgie smugglers, I think he spends all his time in a wind tunnel perfecting cyclings most aerodynamic chin Oh and perfecting ways of keeping his dogs safe in the Tour start and finish village.
It might take someone to tread on his pooches tail to get his fired up enough for his defence of the yellow jersey. Mainly because this season he has been pretty woeful and is getting cold (as there is no sunlight in Bradley's shadow).
Can the man nicknamed "Cuddles" win the Tour again? Well unless he can get the BMC team all pulling in the same direction I think not. Thor and PhilGil will have their own agendas, in fact they will probably be trying to out breakaway each other...
What Cadel does have is "Big" George Hincapie and decent mountain support from the likes of Martin Kohler and Tee Jay Van Gaarderen who is clearly destined for greatness.
Andy Schleck - Won the 2010 Tour in early 2012, but that has been the pinnacle of a season which saw him flop in the Ardennes classics. I attack a club 10 with more determination than this bloke who I now fear might be remembered more for his chain falling off than for his magical attack last year.
Says it all really. I am not a fan, although I do know a bloke who looks remarkably like him.
Frank Schleck - Did he actually appear at all in the Giro? See above mainly, although at least Frank had his day in the sun on Alp D'huez.
Other than that I think his time has gone.
I am looking forward to Radioshack/Nissan/Leopard/Trek trying to accommodate these two and Andreas Kloden (before he falls off and retires from the race of course).
Thomas Voeckler- If the gag is good enough for ITV to use it for 8 years then it isn't going to stop me. Cycling's very own Harry Enfield look a like (Copyright Ned Boulting) could actually spring a surprise again and run the so-called favourites close. My main fear for Europcar is their ability to control the flat stages which could be chaos is Cav doesn't spend too long in the race and Sky let it all happen around them.
The mountains see him well covered with Anthony Charteau and Pierre Rolland.
Most of the other teams aren't going to be arriving with real GC stars so there will be plenty of dangerous riders in the peloton who are there to cause as much damage as possible.
Jonny Hoogerland, Juan Antonio Flecha to name but two (who were attacked by a car last year) can go well over most terrain and I have a good feeling for Rein Tarramae, depending on how his Dauphine goes.
The Lotto team will be trying to keep Jurgen Vandenbrocke on the island to prove his climbing display of 2010 was no fluke although team mate and similarly named Jelle Vanendeart might be the better prospect.
For the sprints a lot depends on the aforementioned Mark Cavendish and how much of the race he completes after a tough Giro. It still wouldn't surprise me if it was none of it at all, which would leave Team Sky able to focus on Bradley.
Andrei Griepel will be the man most likely but I am expecting a swansong green jersey for Thor Hushovd as he won't need a BMC train to pick up points and built a lead in that competition.
I already cant wait and hope to find time to blog plenty more in the build up and during the race, so stay tuned.