Tom Boonen has had a great year so far and looks set to continue his form into the Tour. I think Quick Step will be one of the exciting teams of the Tour, even without Paolo ‘the Cricket’ Bettini. With no clear leader in the team, it will mean plenty of breakaway action from the one day specialists and less pressure may well mean a few stage wins. They will get plenty of support from back home too, especially as Tom Boonen could well bring the Green jersey back to Belgium, he’s certainly motivated to finish.
RCUK rating? Stage wins for Boonen and Pozzato. A few long breakaways for Vasseur. A Green Jersey is likely if Tom can cope with the hills. Go Boonen!
Steven De Jongh
Juan Manuel Garate
Liquigas didn’t enjoy the Giro much and they are certainly in need of a lift. Stefano Garzelli especially needs a good tour and he certainly has a good supporting cast here from the green giant – yes that’s right Big Magnus is back in the fold and is (apparently) delighted to be in the team for the Tour, expect to see him ripping the peloton up to speed for fast finishing Danilo Di Luca.
RCUK rating? Stage win for Di Luca, Garzelli will splutter, perhaps get a top twenty in the GC
Danilo Di Luca
Iban Mayo won the really tough final Briançon-La Toussuire stage of the Dauphiné Liberé last weekend and his return to form has got the Basques all excited again. In fact several of the Orange waifs were seen at the front of the groups in the French Alps during the Dauphiné, so we expect them to be taking on the CSC and T-Mobile boys when the road tilts up. There are too many Time Trials for them to make the podium though.
RCUK rating? Stage wins for a climber, pick one of many. Mayo will bag one. Doubt they’ll make the podium though.
The best news for British fans is that Bradley Wiggins’ strong showing at the Dauphiné means he’s in the Cofidis starting squad for the Tour. The first British rider to make it since 2003. It is a strong line up but there’s no clear GC contender, so like Quick Step they’ll be keen to get the stage wins and exploit the other teams on bigger missions. Rik Verbrugghe could be the one to watch in the prologue.
RCUK rating? Stage wins and even the chance of a day in yellow. Wiggins will struggle to win the prologue but will give it ‘full gas’. Allez Bradley!