It could be a very interesting Tour this year. It's anyone's race really - so it's hard to choose a out and out favourite. I was impressed with Carlos Sastre at the Giro, he broke away in the traditional old-skool climber's way on Vesuvius and showed that he isn't scared to attack. Cadel Evans is certainly going well, but he lacks the panache and the ability to mix a race up. Alberto Contador has a good chance, as for his American team mates, Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer, well I think that Astana may well suffer from an embarrassment of talents and that they won't have enough 'sacrifice' in the team in order to take control. On the other hand Sastre's Cervelo team is strong, but more importantly, they are all there for him and him alone.
Mark Cavendish is the exciting ticket for British fans and I can see him managing to make it to Paris this year especially as he's shown this year that he can hang on, I do worry that he's still too impatient though. Then on the other hand that seems to be what fuels his talents. I expect Bradley Wiggins could do well in the prologue and David Millar may surprise a few as it's a good distance for him. The Team Time Trial next Tuesday may well see Garmin and High Road fighting it out head to head for the win, as they did in the Giro, and I can't wait for that one.
The penultimate stage up Ventoux could be the upset that the Tour needs to keep the race exciting. If you crack on the Ventoux you can loose half an hour in a few kilometers, so expect fireworks and I wouldn't be too surprised if the race is decided there. I hope so, the Tour needs some unpredictability and I'm glad that the organisers made it late in the race, it shows a spirit of imagination and daring.
So who will be on the podium in Paris? I'm not really sure, but my predictions for a top three would have to be:1. Carlos Sastre
2. Alberto Contador
3. Cadel Evans