The popularity of cycling in the US is starting to grow quite a bit. A lot of this could be attributed to the Tour of California and the upcoming USA Pro Cycling Challenge. There have been a lot of Americans in the Tour in the past but, now there is a lot more focus on them from our own country. Based on a preliminary start-list, we could have as many as nine Americans and 4 American based teams starting in Passage du Gois, France on July 2nd. I’d like to take a small look at them and see what impacts they could have on this years Tour.
Brent Bookwalter- BMC Racing Team
Brent Bookwalter made is Grand Tour debut last year in the Giro, finishing 2nd and losing by just 2 seconds to Bradley Wiggins in the opening time trial. After this great performance, he has always been one to watch in time trails. Make sure to listen for his name on stage 20 as well as stage 2, the team time trial (TTT)
9th in the Vuelta last year, 3rd in the Tour of California this year, and currently 11th in the Tour de Suisse could land Tom a spot on Garmin-Cervelo’s Tdf team. If he does, look for him to shake it up in the mountains and work with Vande Velde to get a spot in the top 10.
Tyler Farrar- Garmin-Cervelo
Tyler Farrar started off the season pretty well with 4 wins so far and 3rd at both Gent-Wevelgem and Dwar door Vlaanderen. He ran into some serious misfortune during the Giro with the passing of his good friend, Wouter Weylandt. He then pulled out of the Giro and took some time off riding.
Recently, he won stage 2 at Ster ZLM Toer against some pretty strong sprinters. With this, he is showing some pretty good form going into the Tour. Tyler has never won a stage at the Tour so, he will be hoping to change that this year. It won’t be easy because he will have to go up against the likes of Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel, and Alessandro Petacchi.
George Hincapie- BMC Racing Team
“Big” George Hincapie will be going for a record 16 Tour de France completions. He’s raced upwards of 40000 miles through France in the passed 16 July’s. So far, he has 4 stages wins and he is always a threat to get another. It’s also not too far out to see him getting into the yellow jersey for a couple days. Good luck to George and it will be good to see him set a new Tour record. (knock on wood)
Chris Horner- Team Radioshack
In the passed two year, Chris Horner has looked stronger than ever. He won the Tour of the Basque Country last year, finished second this year, and won the Tour of California this year. He could definitely do well in the overall but, he may be working to get Leipheimer or Kloden onto the podium. Regardless, he will be riding strong and he has potential to take a stage win.
Levi Leipheimer- Team Radioshack
Levi has been riding pretty strong in the past few years. He has been looking extremely well in the Tour de Suisse, looking to get onto the podium with tomorrows time trial. With the next few weeks to prepare, I see him going into the Tour strong and competing for the podium. I’m not sure he can take the overall but, never say never.
Jason McCartney- Team Radioshack
Jason McCartney is a very strong domestique, even in the mountains. He has shown his prowess by taking the mountains classification on the Tour of California in 2009 and the Tour of Georgia 2008. He’s a strong rider and I could see him getting into a breakaway and maybe taking a stage win. If not, he will be and important man, used by Levi and Chris in their search for the podium.
Christian Vande Velde- Garmin-Cervelo
Christian has really has some bad luck in the Grand Tours he has entered in. in the 2009 and 2010 Giros as well as the 2010 Tour, he crashed out on the 3rd stage of each. Recently finishing 4th in the Tour of California, he could do well in the Tour. He has, in fact, 4th in the Tour before. Hopefully he can recreate that good performance this year and escape his bad luck.
Tejay van Garderen- HTC Highroad
When you talk about Tejay, all you can say is WOW! Last year was his first year on the Pro Tour and it was a very successful season. 3rd in the Dauphine, staying in the top 10 of the Vuelta a Espana for a majority of it, 4th in the Tour de l’Ain, etc. This year is was 2nd in the Volta o Algarve and 5th at the Tour of California. He is also currently sitting 10th in the Tour de Suisse. It would probably be a long shot to say he will win the Tour this year but, it is not to say he can in the future. I see him doing really well this year; likely a top 10 spot. Good luck to Tejay and his HTC squad.
Dave Zabriskie- Garmin-Cervelo
Finally, we have Dave Zabriskie, one of the funniest guys in the peloton. Already having 3 time trial wins this year, including the US Pro title, it wouldn’t be very surprising to see him doing really well on stage 20. Also, look for Garmin-Cervelo to do really well in the team time trial. Dave will definitely be a big help for Tom and Christian when the mountain come as well.
So there they are, the Americans that will start the Tour this year, every one of them capable of doing something whether it be a stage win or a fight for the overall. Make sure to watch the Tour starting July 2nd and watch for my update.