The Tour starts Saturday. Yes, you should pay attention.
Then a couple things as sure to happen as death and taxes …
- Phil and Paul calculating the chances of a breakaway working on a flat stage when we all know damn well it won’t, and the peloton will swallow up those guys in the last two kilometers like a national team’s defense swallowing up Messi. (On a mountain stage, a breakaway often does work because the peloton is smashed to bits on the slopes.)
- Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish parting the sea of lead-out riders to contest the sprints.
- Chris Froome taking the lead on Stage 3, a team time trial, and never looking back. Yes, any dominant cyclist will be under suspicion of doping thanks to Lance Armstrong and every other big-time cyclist of his era, and he had a questionable test in the past year, but he has been cleared. Controversially. Like Armstrong, Froome also has a dominant team that will stomp the competition in the time trial and control the peloton the rest of the way.
The race for second:
- Romain Bardet will raise hopes of a French victory and then smash them.
- Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour when Froome crashed a few years ago.
- Richie Porte is an Australian leading U.S. team BMC.
- Nairo Quintana can climb.
- Mikel Landa actually has shorter odds than Nibali and Bardet even though Quintana is his teammate, and teams that are split between supporting two overall contenders rarely fare well.
- Tejay van Garderen (BMC) is now riding in support of Porte. He finished fifth in the 2012 Tour and did it again in 2014.
- Taylor Phinney (Education First-Drapac), son of cyclist Davis Phinney and cyclist/speedskater Connie Carpenter-Phinney, is a world champion on the track who made his Tour debut last year.
- Ian Boswell (Katusha) has experience riding for Sky in the other two Grand Tours (Vuelta a Espana, Giro d’Italia) and has a couple of top 10 finishes in U.S. tours (Utah, California).
- Lawson Craddock (Education First-Drapac) is riding in his second Tour.
- Chad Haga (Sunweb) is making his Tour debut.