2007 Tour de France Preview

News & Results

07/4/2007| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill
Levi Leipheimer (Team Discovery Channel). Photo copyright Ben Ross Photography - www.benrossphotography.com
Levi Leipheimer (Team Discovery Channel). Photo copyright Ben Ross Photography - www.benrossphotography.com

2007 Tour de France Preview

Some contend that the route of the 2007 Tour de France is easier than usual and certainly easier than the 2006 Tour route.

and finished 10 th at the Tour de Suisse. Kloden and Vinokourov are coleaders of Astana, so if the Kazakh falters, Kloden could assume command and be a real threat with the supporting cast that Astana has.

 

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d?Epargne) has been touted as a potential Tour winner for some time. It is time for the Spaniard to step up. In the 2005 and 2006
Tours
, Valverde abandoned before he faced those races? long time trials, but the Caisse d?Epargne rider had not shown an affinity for the race against the clock. Valverde, however, finished fourth and third in last year?s Vuelta?s long time trials. This season, he has won the Tours of Valencia and of
Murcia
. His performance in the Dauphine Libere did not reveal fitness, but like Leipheimer and possibly Vinokourov, the Caisse d?Epargne rider might have wanted to sharpen without exerting himself too much. Expect Valverde to finish the 2007 Tour for the first time, demonstrate his climbing strength, and finish fourth.

 

Cadel Evans (Predictor) finished fifth at last year?s Tour. He has always climbed well, and his time trialing, which has been his Achilles?s heel, has shown signs of improving. The Australian, however, lacks a strong supporting cast, and much of the team?s strength is geared to helping Robbie McEwen win stages. Evans probably will not improve on last year?s finish.

 

Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) is a three-time world time trial champion and a strong climber. However, T-Mobile is not the colossus of old, with Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla, Kloden, Matthias Kessler, and Sergei Ivanov having departed.
Rogers
will be free to chart his own course, but he will have little help from his team. Pencil the Australian in for sixth.  

 

Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d?Epargne) might be a team captain on any team other than Caisse d?Epargne. This season, the Russian has won the Tour of Catalonia and the Tour of Switzerland. He is a strong climber and a good time trialist. He will work for Valverde. Karpets   should finish seventh.

 

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) is a strong climber. However, Rabobank will not work wholeheartedly for him. Oscar Freire will get team support for the sprints, and Michael Rasmussen will attempt to win the polka dot jersey. With such scattershot support, eighth place is about all that the Russian can hope for.

 

Carlos Sastre (CSC) finished fourth last year, and that finish seems to be about the limit of his ability. The Spaniard is a very good climber, but he is an indifferent time trialist, and his age (32) suggests that he has peaked. Moreover, CSC is not as strong as it has been in the past. Bobby Julich is approaching the end of his career, Ivan Basso is gone, and Frank Schleck, coleader with Sastre, is not ready to take the reins. Sastre is not to be overlooked in the mountains, particularly in the
Pyrenees, where he won at Ax-3 Domaines in 2003. Still, ninth place seems right for him in this Tour.

 

Christophe Moreau (Ag2r)

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