If this year’s Tour is like last year’s then I might be spending more time in front of the TV than on the bike. Here’s my predictions of winners and losers for 2012. Apologies in advance to fans of Bradley Wiggins.
Our club organised an online league for the Halfords Fantasy Tour last year and I was last. This should give you a good idea of my ability in picking a winning team for the biggest of the Grand Tours. In saying that every roadie will have an opinion worthy or not, on stages and riders and the next three weeks of club runs should be full of Tour Talk.
More important sometimes than discussing the riders, is discussing their equipment. Pro set ups do influence club riders. In our club there’s a few guys with aero dynamic TT helmets, electronic gear-shifting systems and some shiny new frames riden by the pros. I was smugly delighted when Felt bikes made an appearance in Le Tour. Then of course there’s the team tops. I’m a fan of the Liquigas colours.
As for the race who will win and who will lose?
I’m going to start a bit controversially and say that Wiggins will not win it. There are several reasons for this; his jarring black socks, ‘mod’ hair cut and thinking that dodgy bands are cool (The Inspiral Carpets?!). More importanly he lacks any explosive punch on the hills.
Last season’s Vuelta is the key to my argument. Wiggins was leading comfortably but he and Team Sky were easily out-foxed by Menchov and Sastre who set up Cobo to attack and destroy the field on the gruelling Alto De L’Angliru pass.
So who will win? I think the winner will come from a small group headed by Cadel Evans. Frank Schleck will not be far away but there are a number of other intriguing possibilities. Robert Gesink and Jurgen Van Den Broeck spring to mind as very capable riders alongside Samuel Sánchez.
I have some other favourites as outsiders; Rein Taaramae, Ryder Hesjedal and the terrific Lieutenant of Voeckler’s, Pierre Rolland. But if pushed I will say that I expect Evans to win another Tour.
As for the sprints, I definitely think Tyler Farrar should re-consider the sprinting career! Maybe develop into a classics rider if he can or join our club. How many times can he be third? I think the sprinting will be between Cavendish, André Greipel, Greenedge’s Matt Goss and perhaps Lars Boom.
And the decisive stage this year? Not the TTs as many predict but Stage 11 in the mountains with the Col de la Madeline and then the Col de la Croix de Fer – not as hard as Mitchellslacks down our way but hard enough for the pros. I’ll be watching that one from the comfort of my couch with a Killie Pie.