Whom to follow in the Tour de France …

The Tour starts Saturday. Yes, you should pay attention.

First, follow NYVelocity on Twitter for colorful commentary, especially now that the site doesn’t offer up the daily Tour day Schmalz.

Also, follow The Guardian, starting with their team-by-team guide.

And watch it on NBCSN. I don’t care if you hate cycling. The commentary (dry-witted Englishmen Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen) and scenery are unmatched.

Then a couple things as sure to happen as death and taxes …

  1. 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.)
  2. Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish parting the sea of lead-out riders to contest the sprints.
  3. 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:

  1. Romain Bardet will raise hopes of a French victory and then smash them.
  2. Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour when Froome crashed a few years ago.
  3. Richie Porte is an Australian leading U.S. team BMC.
  4. Nairo Quintana can climb.
  5. 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.

Americans:

  1. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) is now riding in support of Porte. He finished fifth in the 2012 Tour and did it again in 2014.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Lawson Craddock (Education First-Drapac) is riding in his second Tour.
  5. Chad Haga (Sunweb) is making his Tour debut.
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