Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's Yer 2013 Tour de France In Preview, Part Un!: The GC Contenders

Yes, the 100th Tour de France is just days away, and it's got a pretty bangin' field to boot. So before 3 weeks of fun, pain, and general chaos gets underway, let's review the overall contenders to watch:

1. Chris Froome: apparently, he's on the BBC right this minute explaining how Contador's a no-threat weenie and his Tour victory is all but assured. Keep it up, you eejit! Aaaaanyhoo: Strengths: openly bushwhacking his own team leader; climbing; time trialling; damn near anything but sprinting. Also, he's got his whole Team Sky frankly starting to look disconcertingly like the ol' US Postal Stepford-wife androids. Attrition through metronomic beat-down, baby! Weaknesses: uh...maybe he peaked a little too much a little too soon? And for !@#$'s sake, kid, shut yer *yap* til you gain more sense!

2. Alberto Contador: y'know, this guy's actually *won* a few of these things already, so I don't know why he seems to be presumed DOA. Strengths: he is attentive, he is experienced, and he doesn't melt down like a Schleck at every setback. And while he hasn't shown this season that, well, mutant capacity for constant consecutive light-n-lively 21% gradient uphill attacks he had, well, before, if he's got it back, the rest of the field's just screwed. Weaknesses: so...can he do what he used to do if he needs to, or can't he?

3. Cadel Evans: Strengths: no matter how tired, the man is a tick on the backs of even his strongest rivals, the gracious Tejay's not gonna stick a Froomeian knife in his back, and he can triumph in the most miserable conditions the Tour or any race on earth has to offer. Weaknesses: yeah, he's old. He was old when he won it the first time. So what?

4. Alejandro Valverde: sure, he's a mid-race car-wreck-in-waiting at every Grand Tour he's in, and of course his riding well still creeps us all out, but he is one wily tenacious s.o.b. with a simply ravenous team of near-daily stage winners and unholy mountain beasts right with 'im. Allez Alejandro--if only to see the outraged race organizers go all bull!@#$ when you take it!

5. Purito Rodriguez: no, he hasn't won his Grand Tour yet. Yes, he's always about to. Aiming for the podium but capable of the top step, it's only a matter of time, luck, and maybe someone else's ill-timed crack. Strengths: one of the most brilliant climbers of his day. Weakness: won't be whacked as hard as usual by this year's rolling time trial, but on a flat stage, the man's basically got to be hauled by donkey cart. Just someone grab hold of his jersey so he doesn't get blown off the course by a crosswind, and he'll be okay!

6. Dark Horses: no, Ryder, Voeckler, or Van den Broucke won't win, but they'll sure put a scare into everybody at least one point in the race. And no, he won't be French. But for a twist, Andy Schleck is coyly promising a surprise. Just finish and let Jens off the leash, and that'll be surprise enough!

Well, there's yer faves. Me, I'm getting shameful Vinokourov flashbacks just thinkin' about rooting for Contador, but I'm sure there's no reason for that. So let the debauchery begin, and may you all stay safe and test clean!

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