It’s time to rate the prospects for those riders who with luck, alignment of planets, the form of their life and broken collarbones on everyone in front of them, could possibly win the tour and shock the lycra shorts off the cycling universe.
Twisted Spoke makes no claim to being a tedious number cruncher or the kind of geek who can recite every race Gesink has won going back to his teens. We evaluate based on mood, jersey color and the incessant demands of good storytelling. We think Gesink will finish higher than teammate Denis Menchov. Gesink is on form and has that emaciated German concentration camp look — like the second coming of the Chicken himself, Michael Rasmussen. He’s going top five or else Mr. Right Below is.
After a few days in the high mountains, Ivan Basso will turn to Roman and say, “dude, my legs are trashed.” Only it will be in Italian and won’t be those exact words. Point is, Basso will feel like he’s on week five of the Giro. Thus, he will pass the mantle of team leadership and Roman will scoot up the Pyrenees and … wait for it … climb into the top 5. Yup, Robert or Roman is making it high in the GC. Liquigas is a monster strong team and Basso and company will ramp it up for Roman, the gladiator.
We saw Rogers up close at the Tour of California and we were suitably impressed. After the most brutal edition of the race, Rodgers emerged looking, yes, refreshed! He did the final press conference and practically skipped out to the team bus. Form-wise he is fab. The question is, can he overcome his general bad luck in the Tour de France? Rodgers himself said recently he’s not capable of winning the tour but could do a top five. Make that top 10, buddy.
Luis Leon Sanchez
LL Sanchez (the LL Cool J of cycling) could make some noise in this year’s tour — if only to fill the Valverde vacuum at Caisse d’Epargne. Why not? He’s got a killer team, confidence and had a strong start to the season. He’s going to lay low and then climb high. His younger brother plays football so LL Sanchez is gonna kick some behind. But hey, we can’t put everyone in the top 10, now can we? Welcome to 11th, LL.
As nearly every Dr. Suess fan knows, Frank is Thing 2 with Andy gets all the limelight as Thing 1. In the last week or so, some prognosticators and a few weathermen have talked up Frank’s chances but Twisted Spoke says nonsense. He’s riding for Thing 1 and he knows it. A stage win, maybe, but he ain’t getting anywhere near the podium except to bring Andy a glass of champagne. Bjarne Riis is so pissed off at both Thing 1 & Thing 2 about their Luxembourg desertion that he’s thinking of pulling Andy and riding himself. Keep an eye out and beware the fleshy bald guy in the Saxo jersey.
Levi & Kloden
Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden. How many times have you heard the incessant phrase “we have several cards to play at the Tour.” That one doesn’t fool Alberto Contador. These two guys are riding for the boss in his final tour, no ifs, ands or butts.
A nice return to the Giro and some spirited performances. But unless Contador goes down in a crush of bikes and cobblestones, Vino rides for the Spaniard. Alberto handed the pressure of Armstrong last year and he’ll do the same with the Kazak if Vino gets too ambitious and goes rogue.
Ha, our favorite Frenchie rider. We throw him into the mix for the same reason unknown riders jump in a breakaway — just to give him a little media time. We’re hoping David goes on one of his long range forays in the mountains and grabs yellow for a few days. Just ‘cuz he’s a loner, philosopher, dreamer who has always chosen his own road oddball road. Allez David!