Monday, July 09, 2007

Le Tour Preview: Year 2

Pedal faster.
So, the Tour de France is once again around the corner, and we here at HPO are of the opinion that there's absolutely nothing homo-erotic at all about watching a bunch of grown men wearing funny helmets and skin-tight leotards.
With that in mind, we turn once again to HPO special correspondent and cycling expert, Mr. Drugs. If you're able to remember things that happened 12 months ago (most readers of this website can't), you will remember the tremendous primer that Mr. Drugs put together for last year's tour. We are glad to have him back for round two:
The 2007 Tour de France is rapidly approaching, and will made its debut Saturday (07/07/07), the luckiest damn day in a hundred years. Excitement surrounding the event could hardly be at a more feverish pitch, as the world prepares for the greatest of the Grand Tours to begin. The Tour will began with a 7.9km prologue time-trial in London, which will be the 6th European capital chosen as the start location, continuing a tradition begun in Amsterdam in 1954.

The big story this year, as in years past, is doping scandals. Jorg Jatstch (pronounced Yorg Yats... fantastic) of Germany recently confessed to doping which took place over the course of 5 years with the help of Dr. Fuentes, the focus of the Spanish "La Puerta" investigation. He was reportedly paid 130,000 Euros for his confession and subsequent book deal... pffft, I'd confess to a lot worse for that kind of cash. Ivan Basso and Alessandro Petacchi are two other big names excluded from this year's race as a result of drug testing for the Giro D'Italia in May. A lot could happen between now and the start of the race, keeping in mind that in recent years several riders (including GC contenders) have been disqualified mere days before the prologue.

Many familiar names are on this year's roster, including Alexandre Vinokourov and Andres Kloden of Team Astana. Vino will be the favorite coming out of the gate, with the veteran Kloden as his main lieutenant (and possible rival). Their most notable competition will likely come from Team Discovery led by American Levi Leipheimer. Levi will be accompanied by his highly experienced tactician, lieutenant, and all-around kickass cyclist, George "Longshanks" Hincapie. Also noteworthy is that Levi and Georgie probably have the two hottest wives of anyone on the cycling circuit. Anyhow, it could be anyone's race, as no one in this year's field is capable of the dominance shown by Lance Armstrong during his 7 year run. Other possible contenders include Thomas Voeckler (who wore the Yellow Jersey for 9 days a few years ago before losing it to Lance in the mountains), Christian Valverde, Christophe "Island of Doctor" Moreau, and David "It's" Millar "Time" among others.

In the sprinters' competition for the Green Jersey, many of the old favorites will return including Thor "The Torpedo" Hushovd of Credit Agricole, Tom Boonen of QuickStep, and the Master: Robbie McEwen of Predictor-Lotto. These men all have exceptional lead-out teams, and possess the explosive power, blistering speed, and rock-solid balls that make the sprint finishes so incredibly exciting, and I'll be watching them with bated breath as always. I highly recommend trying to watch these along with commentary by the legendary team of Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwin on the VS Network. These two chaps could well be the greatest sports commentary duo since Ron Jaworski and Dick Vermeil did that Monday Night Football game early last fall, and one can seldom witness a more amazing and entertaining spectacle, I assure you. Sure they're English, but we've all got our shortcomings.


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