With the 2010 Football World Cup officially over (for some countries anyway), we can now look forward with uninterrupted anticipation to the 2010 Tour de France which starts in Rotterdam on Sunday 3rd July.

For anyone who has an interest in cycling, the Tour de France offers us a daily feast of professional cycling action that inspires us all to get out and ride, then return in sweaty wonder at how the hell they cycle so fast, so far and for so long! This year’s tour will be no different and with 21 stages comprising of 1 prologue, 9 flat stages, 6 mountain stages with 3 summit finishes, 4 medium mountain stages and 1 individual time-trial stage (51 km), there will be enough for everyone spend some time in cycling heaven!

(For people who need a guide for their non cycling partners, see our earlier blog on rules and regulations for partners for easy reference.)

At PBK, we always like to stick our necks out and try to predict who will win which race and this year’s Tour de France will be no different. Here, we look at three contenders who have a good chance of taking the yellow jersey in Paris and one outsider who we think might just sneak it. We await your comments as ever and the various reasons why we’re wrong and who you think should be there, so make sure you (politely) let us know your thoughts on the yellow jersey this year.

Lance Armstrong:

There isn’t a day goes by without his name being mentioned in relation to the Tour and most things cycling.

With Lance announcing: “And yes, this will be final Tour de France. It’s been a great ride. Looking forward to 3 great weeks.” could this be his final hurrah? We’ll forgive him his missing word and we really hope that he can go out with pride and in style.

A 7 time champion will probably be excused to still have nerves going into this 2010 edition. Winning his first Tour in 1999 and bagging 3rd place in 2009 after 3 years off the bike (and concentrating on dating a string of beautiful women) is a pretty awesome record for the Texan.

A podium place on his return Tour has shown everyone that given a strong team, Lance still has the legs to do it. At 38 he’s at the older end of the peloton but his experience will surely count for a lot. Luckily Christophe Moreau is 39, so he avoids the ‘oldest rider’ tag.

The Radioshack Team have Kloden, Leipheimer, Horner and Popovych as the strong men, keen to work and they have young Janez Brajkovic who showed Contador how to climb in the late stage on the Tour de Suisse.

Lance rode well here, taking 2nd place. Considering the climbs, TT’s and wet stages a Tour start in Rotterdam could work in his favour. If the team works well and supports Lance who knows what might happen?

Cadel Evans:

The popular Aussie rider has never managed to win a Tour, can 2010 be his year? After taking the rainbow jersey and a great win at La Fleche Wallonne, 5th at the Giro along with the point jersey (red) he has certainly found some form.

His team has big George Hincapie and Marcus Burghardt who will be able to pull things along and provide shelter on the flats! Also in there is Alessandro Ballan who wore the rainbow jersey in 2008.

He may suffer in the mountains to Contador and Basso, but his TT’ing has been spot on lately and although not the nicest to watch, he has a certain ‘style’ which seems to be working! His MTB background is still apparent, in the 2010 Giro he ploughed on and was rewarded with a win on stage 7 and almost sticking onto Basso’s wheel on the Zoncolan

Just don’t step on his dog!

Alberto Contador:

Already touted by many as the winner of the 2010 Tour, Contador is a sure favourite for this years book makers.

Everyone knows about his magical ability to dance on the pedals up a hill and this Tour will give him plenty of chances to show off. Last year he took off from the peloton (and team-mate Lance) and was unstoppable.

His TT’ing has come under fire previously, but after winning the Prologue at the Dauphine Libere and a quiet ITT victory at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, he won’t be losing a lot of time here.

For a 3 week stage race you need a team. Do Astana have this? While Vino is strong will he be there when Alberto needs or will he think of himself? The other names don’t fill you with confidence either.

Plus how well do Spanish riders and cobbles mix?! The first stages will be very hard for this team.

After the 2009 Tour everyone was certain that 2010 would be Bradley Wiggins’ year. He then joined the ‘super-team’ of Sky and things looked even better. Then came the Giro – admittedly some bad luck with crashes in the early stages but he seems to be lacking something – maybe being able to put his own chain back on would be a start…

We would have loved for Team Sky to be dominating the big races, but we just don’t think it will happen this year, or this Tour de France. Everyone loves an underdog and Wiggins has to be ours – British, British Team and with Boasson Hagen and Flecha to add some spice we dream of them walking over everyone.

Who’s on your list as this years winner? How about the KOM jersey and Sprinters jersey? Let us know below.

After discussing this for a morning, the whole PBK office is excited about the Tour this year. With so much hype and with so many up to date streams of data and news its going to be a cracker.
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