Ah the Tour de France is back! Three weeks of decent TV viewing. Speedy roadies zooming through the beautiful french countryside. Everyone who likes this race will have their favourite riders and teams they want to see do well and this year looks to be wide open. Bradley Wiggins might be favourite but if I he has a bad race then it could be any ones. More likely than not it'll come down to who ever does well in the mountains and time trial at the end of it all.
Our last year winner Cadel Evans has been a bit off form this season (maybe due to being a new dad) Alberto Contador is serving a little ban from eating dodgy beef(!) and Andy Schleck (he of goat like legs, poor time trialing and whinny, moaning bore) is out due to fractured pelvis. Obviously, and very bias, I would like Wiggins in Yellow and Cavendish in Green. Yep that would make a great tour, but I already have my doubts.
Well we are already three days gone and its been all good stuff so far. Fabien Cancellera has been doing well winning the Yellow Jersey and then giving a great performance on a tricky finish on day two, one which saw some of the big named sprinters dropping off. Day three and stage two saw a win from Mark Cavendish. But he is not the same rider I've seen before. He is certainly lacking the top speed in his attempt to become a more overall rider and I'm not sure whether this will serve him well or not. He may climb better for it but will it win him back the Jeresey? Where was his lead out train? An interview after the race showed a not very jubilant Cavendish give away a little what was going on. Despite people talking about the team being split in two to aim for yellow and green it would appear this is not the case and instead the team is out for the all important yellow. I don't think Cav is happy no matter what he said, his body language said otherwise, but then he's used to having a team centred around him. He knows it'll be a fight to get wins this Tour let alone green again.
Anyway one more win and he's won 22 stages of the race and equals Lance Armstrongs record.
Stage 3 will 197km starting in France today at Orchies and finishing in Boulogne-sur-Mer. The race is flat for some of the race but notably the last 60km are hilly with 3 and 4 cat climbs in it on narrow roads. Not necessarily a GC breaker but could start giving us an idea of riders form.
I've actually being enjoying getting to watch the UCI XCO Mountain Bike World Cup racing as well. This weekend gone was round six at Windham in America. The course was its usual classic form of one long climb with one long decent. The track is dry, dusty and rocky, but was made further difficult by the really hot temperatures that are gripping part of America right now. Glad to see this venue still on the calender despite the terrible hurricanes which devastated the town last year.
Two of the big names who have been dominating the race Nino Schurter and Julien Absalon weren't present sadly as they were staying back in Europe and concentrating on training for the Olympics. (amazing how World Cup races become less important once the Olympics comes around.) The eventual winner was Barry Stander who won with little difficulty after World Champion Kulhavy dropped out on the second lap.
Big mentions in this race go to Todd Wells who finished forth with a storming race in which he clawed back minutes from mid way in the field to fourth place (only just missing third). Gave the home crowd something to cheer for anyway, not bad for an old man! I also loved that Adam Craig racing for Rabobank did it on a singlespeed and with added effect wore baggy shorts! Loving the style Adam! Interestingly Barry Sanders was the first rider to have won on a 29er this year. Nino has been using a 650b and is becoming a bit of a pin up boy for the 650b revolution. Will this impact see more top end racers changing wheels next year or will there sponsors still dominate what they should ride?
You can watch recoreded live coverage of all mens and womens rounds at http://uk.extreme.com/