The Tour de France has just started once again for 2013, and this year we are celebrating its 100th anniversary. The course comprises some of the most famous elements of those seen in former years, so is a fantastic year for any big fans of the sporting event. It is set to be as exciting and challenging as ever, pushing the athletes to their limits and forcing everyone to work harder than ever before to make it to the end of the grueling course on July 21, when the cyclists will cross the finish line at the Champs-Elysées in Paris.
With 2012 champion and Olympic gold medalist Bradley Wiggins unfit to participate in this year’s Tour de France, there has been much speculation about who could pick up the coveted yellow jersey this year. Attention has turned to his 2012 Team Sky teammate, Chris Froome, who snared second spot and helped Wiggins to victory in last year’s race. Not only is Froome excellent in the time trials, he is also a great climber, so he could also be on his way to the red and white polka dot cycle jersey awarded to the best climber.
Team Sky appears to be the team to watch this year, with another favorite being Australian rider Richie Porte, who took second place in the warm up Tour race. He is expected to excel in the stages involving the Pyrenees and the Alps, and should provide Froome with the support he needs to finish in first. There will be lots of people keeping a very close eye on these two, as they could well pull it out of the bag and romp home to a brilliant victory for Team Sky.
There are another three experienced Brits likely to do well this year. Ian Stannard, Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas are all expected to perform well this year following some brilliant recent performances in other races, and this will be Thomas’ fourth Tour.
Moving onto other countries, Froome’s main competition is likely to be Spaniard Alberto Contador, who has put in some strong performances in recent races. He has the rare accolade of being crowned winner of all three different Tours – the French, Spanish and Italian. He has legitimately won the Tour de France twice before, but was stripped of his 2010 title after he was discovered to have returned a positive result in a doping test.
However, it’s still early days, and right now it really is anyone’s game. Who do you think will be the winner of this year’s competition?
Doug Hopkins considers the Tour de France to be the highlight of the sporting calendar each year and regularly blogs about its many twists and turns