WEEK ONE IS ALL ABOUT GREEN
During the Tour's flatter stages (1–7), the race's sprinters—including last year's sprint champion, Thor Hushovd of Norway, perennial favorite Mark Cavendish of Britain, and U.S. upstart Tyler Farrar—will battle for a big lead in the green-jersey competition. Racers earn points toward the sprint title by winning stages and being the first to pass intermediate checkpoints. Last year, Cavendish won a remarkable six Tour stages but lost the green jersey to Hushovd after being penalized in Stage 14 for dangerous riding. Watch for Cavendish to rebound in 2010.
IT AIN'T OVER UNTIL IT'S ALMOST OVER...
This year's general classification (GC) victor likely won't be decided until the penultimate stage, a 32-mile time trial that could either further spread the field after the last mountain stages or force the leader to falter. Tradition holds that riders don't attack the yellow jersey on the last day.
...UNLESS THERE'S A BLOWOUT IN THE MOUNTAINS
The 2010 course takes a clockwise route, hitting the Alps before the Pyrenees, and features more climbing than any Tour since 2005. Look for the serious GC contenders to start asserting themselves in Stage 9 (July 13), with its four big-mountain climbs between Morzine-Avoriaz and Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. If a clear favorite hasn't emerged by the finish at Stage 16 (July 20), from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Pau, then Stage 17 (July 22), with its mountaintop finish at the Col du Tourmalet, will set the stage for the final time trial.
LINUS GERDEMANN COULD MAKE YOU RICH!
In certain two-wheeled circles, fantasy Tour teams are as popular as Final Four brackets. Check the British bookmaking Web sites—like ladbrokes.com, where we got the spread below—for the current odds. Our bet: Of the top five projected finishers, Wiggins—who finished fourth last year—is in over his head, while Armstrong might be a good buy at 8:1.
Alberto Contador 8:11
Andy Schleck 9:2
Lance Armstrong 8:1
Bradley Wiggins 14:1
Linus Gerdemann 150:1
THE BEST SOURCE FOR TOUR INFORMATION IS...TWITTER
Everyone knows @lancearmstrong was an early adopter. But during the 2009 Tour, Lance's passion for micro-blogging spread through the peloton. When the feuding began on Astana, team riders duked it out with 140-character missives. "Well, that wasn't a good move!!" wrote an injured @levileipheimer while watching Stage 17, openly criticizing the tactics of his own teammate, Alberto Contador. You don't get that kind of candor in TV interviews. Here are some of the other folks we'll be following:
@albertocontador (en español)
IT'S NOT A TOUR WITHOUT A DOPING SCANDAL