Competitive cycling has gotten rid of the dopers, or so they’d like us to believe. Floyd Landis lost the appeal of his suspension this week, Michael Rasmussen was suspended last year, and Ivan Basso is serving his suspension through 2009. Some of the racers notorious for doping are still riding, such as Oscar Sevilla and Tyler Hamilton, but their teams weren’t invited to the Tour de France.Â And in the biggest shocker of all, last years Tour de France winner Alberto Contador from Spain wasn’t invited back because of his team’s failed doping tests.
The doping investigations have been devastating for the Tour de France. Many of the favorites during Armstrong’s era have faded, retired, or are serving suspensions. The Tour has also failed to crown a new favorite or find a new rivalry to get fans excited. Today the WSJ called the race, a “Mystery Tour“.
With the race beginning on Saturday July 5th, who’s going to win? and heck, who’s even racing?
– Cadel Evans, the Australian runner up by :23 seconds in 2007, would like to take the yellow jersey home. He is a former Mountain Bike World Cup winner and will definitely finish on the podium this year. Evans is a consistent rider but is at risk of explosive contenders looking to shut him down.
– Alejandro Valverde, the 28 year old who won DauphinÃ© LibÃ©rÃ© last month is a serious podium contender, and could definitely upset Cadel Evans. If Valverde can break away from Evans in the moutains and win the time trials, he will win the race.
– Denis Menchov, who finished 5th at the Giro de Italia last month, has the experience and stamina to ride a terrific tour. But he is also known for having an ocassional horrible day, which will destroy his tour hopes if he has one this year. Menchov needs to get up front early and avoid a bad day. If he can do that, he’ll land on the podium.
– Damiano Cunego skipped a number of the spring races becaue he’s betting on the Tour and the Olympics. Will his training schedule pay off? He will try a win a few stages, and if successful early, could wear Yellow (but unlcear for how long).
– Team CSC has Carlos Sastre and the Schleck brothers, Andy and Frank, who are all top cyclists in the peloton. Teams struggle witout a clear leader, and with three potential podium contenders it will be hard for any of them to get the full support of their teammates.
Here is who we see on the podium in Paris: