As the 2012 Tour De France draws closer, we take a look at the top contenders for this year’s race.
5. Frank Schleck. Riding for RadioShack Nissan, Frank Schleck’s biggest challenge this year might be riding for the same team as his brother, Andy. However, this relationship also makes the brothers Tour favorites. Frank is the more calculating of the brothers, but he also tends to make rash decisions. His biggest asset might be riding for one of the most talented teams this Tour de France.
4. Andy Schleck. Riding alongside his brother, Andy Schleck heads into his fifth tour. Named the race’s best climber, he knows his performance in time trials will be what makes or breaks his chance at the podium. “I know I cannot win the Tour in the time trials, but I can lose it in the time trials,” Schleck says. The passion and the desire to win are there, now we watch and see if all the pieces can come together for him.
3. Denis Menchov. Riding this year for team Katusha, Menchov has a lot to prove. Leading his team, time trials will be his strength. It will be his performance in the mountains that show us if he has what it takes. With a new team and very new teammates, Denis Menchov’s greatest trial might his fellow riders and their inexperience in the art of championing a leader.
2. Bradley Wiggins. Racing alongside world champion, Mark Cavendish, Wiggins’ Tour de France journey could go one of two ways. What happens has a lot to do with which rider Sky intends to focus their fight for the yellow jersey. According to the team, Wiggins is their prospect for yellow.
We already know he has the confidence and the drive to take this year’s tour, and very clearly, his team’s support as well. What makes this superstar duo sweet is their British pride in an Olympic year. Wiggins will be the Tour de France focus, but come Olympic time, Sky fully intends to champion Cavendish.
1. Cadel Evans. Defending his 2011 Tour de France win, BMC Racing rider, Cadel Evans looks like a Tour favorite to win the title again. Among the five oldest men to win the title in the race’s history, Evans goes into the 2012 season with a team built just for him. “This team is the first time where I am truly the captain,” he says. “The team is built around me and we go the Tour with the clear goal of winning the Tour. Not that it’s any easier.”
Last year’s win only served to fuel his confidence. He goes into this journey relaxed, focused, and supported by a team that believes he can take another win.
*Teammate George Hincapie sets the record for Tour de France appearances with his 17th start this year.