I know I’m a few days late on this, but cut me some slack. I did post my top 3 prediction on twitter a few days ago. Here’s the short of it….I’ll believe Lance can be beaten when I see it.
3. Andy Schleck – the younger Schleck brother is a born climbing machine. After the stage 1 time trial, in which he finished 17th, it seems he’s improved his time trialing enough to be a legit contender this year. Young Andy will have the help of his equally talented climbing specialist brother Frank once the road tilts upward.
2. Alberto Contador – Yeah yeah…he won the Tour in 07, the Giro, the Vuelta…yadda yadda. And Andy Roddick would have won Wimbledon if not for Federer. Lefty would have won (name the tournament) if not for Tiger. Lance is back! Alberto has added time trialing (2nd on stage 1 time trial) to his repotoire to go along with his freakish climbing ability, but ultimately his lack of savvy will not allow him to match “Mellow Johnny”.
1. Lance Armstrong – Gasp…he was only 10th in the opening time trial?! Yes – and he’s been retired for 3 years. He beat many of the GC contenders. He also went early in the day and admits “I went out a little too conservatively.” Lance’s savvy allowed him to latch onto the stage 3 breakaway with his old buddy Hincapie and the Columbia crew. He’s now sitting 3rd on GC. After tomorrow’s team time trial he’ll be back in yellow. With his own team mates nipping at his heels he may hold onto it most of the way. I can see him letting it go at some point before an epic race up Mont Ventoux on stage 20 against both Schleck and Contador.
Levi Leipheimer – he’ll have one mediocre day in the mountains and then be content to help Lance/Contador.
Andreas Kloden – see “Levi Leipheimer”
Cadel Evans – the team time trial will dash his hopes. He’ll hang tough (sort of) in the mountains, pull slightly closer on the final ITT, but it won’t be enough.
Denis Menchov – his legs are toast after his Giro d’ Italia win. He’ll pull himself back into the top 10 before reaching Paris though.
Kim Kirchen – nope.
Carlos Sastre – last years champ’s improved time trialing still isn’t good enough to beat Lance or Contador or the new TT ability of Schleck. He’ll win a mountain top finish and finish top 10.
Roman Kreuzinger – the 2008 Tour of Switzerland winner is a future great, but not experienced enough this year.
Nibali/Pellizotti/name another Italian – great riders, but overcook themselves at the Giro.