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has been framed to be a battle amongst the highest contenders...I can't believe what I've seen the past few months. Ullrich has risen above everyone on these boards claiming he was "fat"..did you see his "chunky" legs on the TdS final TT? The man is ripped. Levi has thrown down a gauntlet...Landis has proven he can step up and ride with the fastest TTer's and climbers. Zabriskie kills it when he's on. Basso has specifically prepared for the longer tours obviously and appears to be at another level of climbing prowess..
the build up to this years tour has rivaled anything of the past seven years (I personaly am glad to see LA out...admittedly it was boring to watch a lead solidify like that over and over again). next month should be wonderful sitting in front of the TV each night...personally, very excited...
 

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Agreed...I just checked out the 9 for some of these teams, CSC, Rabobank, etc. This Tour is wide open without LA and will be hotly contested. I just don't see anyone beating Basso, but it will fun to find out if someone can.
 

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bahueh said:
has been framed to be a battle amongst the highest contenders...I can't believe what I've seen the past few months. Ullrich has risen above everyone on these boards claiming he was "fat"..did you see his "chunky" legs on the TdS final TT?
Ullrich was "fat", he's not now. I can't imagine anyone comparing pictures of him from the Circuit de Sarthe or even early in the Giro and now and not thinking he's lost several kilos. He still doesn't look Auschwitz thin but he probably will by the time the Tour hits the mountains and he's dropped another couple of kilos. Personally I've never thought Ullrich got any fatter than Armstrong in the off-season, and that they both cut weight significantly as the Tour approached.
 

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SuperB said:
This Tour is wide open without LA and will be hotly contested. I just don't see anyone beating Basso, but it will fun to find out if someone can.
I don't think this TdF is as wide open as everyone makes it out to be. Assuming no crashes or illnesses, after the first long ITT -- stage 7 -- either T-Mobile (via Ullrich taking the stage) or CSC (via Dave Z or Basso taking the stage) will be working hard at the front and controlling the peloton and covering any GC-threatening escapes on the mountains. The lessons from U.S. Postal have been learned well by all the teams, and, frankly, I don't see any team other than CSC or T-Mobile controlling the race between stage 7 to the end in Paris.

Unlike the last several years, however, at least the race for first is still a huge question mark.
 

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Here is a list, what do you'all think are there pros/cons/GC spots?

In no particular order--additions welcome--how do you think these guys are likely to do?

Basso
Ulrich
Denis Menchov
Floyd Landis
Ivan Mayo
Alex Vino
Allez Valverde
Levi Leiphammer
George Hincapie
Popovich
 

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elvisVerde said:
In no particular order--additions welcome--how do you think these guys are likely to do?

Basso
Ulrich
Denis Menchov
Floyd Landis
Ivan Mayo
Alex Vino
Allez Valverde
Levi Leiphammer
George Hincapie
Popovich
Here's my opinion:

Basso: second

Ullrich: first

Menchov (also Mancebo): good all-arounder who could vie for the third podium spot if he can step up his form from what he showed in the Dauphine

Landis: solid top-ten contender due to his strength in the timetrials, but will lose serious time in the Alps

Mayo: not likely to be a GC contender this year due to the timetrial-heavy nature of the course, and also sort of a fragile type who may not be well-suited to the grand tours, but a favorite (and a sentimental favorite of mine) for the stage win at Alpe d'Huez

Vino: I'm perplexed by his remarkably poor showing at the Dauphine. Sorry to say I don't have high hopes for him this year

Valverde: most exciting talent since Jan Ullrich burst onto the scene in 1996. May well turn out to be the greatest bike racer since Bernard Hinault. However, likely to only finish in the middle of the top ten due to time losses in the timetrials. Most likely candidate to put fear into the hearts of CSC and T-Mobile with attacks on the mountain stages.

Leipheimer: top American finisher, possibly as high as third or fourth place

Hincapie: lucky to finish in the top ten

Popvych: I'm not sure what to make of him, he doesn't seem to have advanced much in the three years since he made the podium in the Giro

Savoldelli: Discovery's best hope for a high placing, could be battling it out with Menchov, Mancebo, Valverde and Leipheimer for third place
 

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My "darkhorse" is Vlad Karpets for a top 10. Jorg Jaschke will be there too, though that is a bit less of a surprise.

I don't think Vino will make a good showing. Maybe out there in a couple breakaways after he loses some big time earlier in the race. He didn't just look bad in the Dauphine (ala Lance in 2004), he looked down right washed up.
 

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Stasera said:
Valverde: most exciting talent since Jan Ullrich burst onto the scene in 1996. May well turn out to be the greatest bike racer since Bernard Hinault. However, likely to only finish in the middle of the top ten due to time losses in the timetrials. Most likely candidate to put fear into the hearts of CSC and T-Mobile with attacks on the mountain stages.
You're not serious are you?

Valverde is an exciting rider, no question. But no way is he an Hinault. Hinault was there at the top from day one. He could timetrial, climb, sprint and impose himself on a race almost at will from his first races as a pro.
 

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False! not everyone!

bahueh said:
has been framed to be a battle amongst the highest contenders...I can't believe what I've seen the past few months. Ullrich has risen above everyone on these boards claiming he was "fat".......
I picked ullrich before the season, and as I said in the "Not a Great Giro" thread last month:




"While out on a ride yesterday, I thought about this Giro. My 3 conclusions were:
- This was one of he most boring stage races of all time. There was really no drama on any fronts, not even other competitions besides the maglia rosa. At least during the Lance tours, there were some side shows.
- Simoni is one of the biggest tools of all time.
- Jan ullrich will win the 2006 Tour. "
 

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ultimobici said:
You're not serious are you?

Valverde is an exciting rider, no question. But no way is he an Hinault. Hinault was there at the top from day one. He could timetrial, climb, sprint and impose himself on a race almost at will from his first races as a pro.
Actually, I am serious. I'm not saying Valverde could be as great as Hinault, or even that he'll be a similar type of rider (he'll never be able to crush all comers in a timetrial like The Badger did). In order to be the best rider since Hinault, Valverde doesn't have to be as great as Hinault, he only has to be better than everyone else since Hinault. And I think there is a possibility that he will be.

Valverde has been consistently great since a very young age. He was third in the Vuelta at age 23, and fourth the following year. He's the rare combination of high-mountain climber and sprinter. I think that in the next five-to-seven years, he could possibly amass a palmares in the grand tours, the classics, and the world championships (where he's already finished second twice) that will put him up there with the all-time greats.
 

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i've been saying for MONTHS that Ullrich will take the '06 Tour. in fact, i bet someone a $20 Starbuck's card that he would beat Basso, and that was back in December.

why will Ullrich win? because this is the first year since 1998 that he's had the motivation to train his ass off all winter. while Armstrong was in power, Ullrich knew that the best he could do in the Tour was second place. how do you stay motivated to train all winter when you know that it won't get you the win? you don't, and that's why his fitness was always lower than it should have been at the start of the Tour.

this year, Ullrich knows that he can take it- and after the photos i've seen recently, it looks like he's going to.

ABOUT BASSO: this guy has bitten off more than his body can chew. he'd never won a grand tour until last month, but he was planning (and is still planning) on WINNING two of them in the same season. my prediction? basso's body cracks halfway through the Tour.


LET'S GET THIS THING STARTED! I WANT MY STARBUCK'S CARD!
 

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Without the dominating presence of Lance, it is possible that a relative unknown can sneak into the yellow and hold it. All the big contenders will be watching each other and won't care if someone else takes off on a flyer and picks up lots of time.
 

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Einstruzende said:
My "darkhorse" is Vlad Karpets for a top 10.
Dang, I was just about to write Karpets as my dark horse when I read your post. Great minds think alike. :D He's been flying under the radar but has been there at the Giro and Switzerland. He's a proven 3 week rider and will have a good ride.
 

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Stasera said:
Actually, I am serious. I'm not saying Valverde could be as great as Hinault, or even that he'll be a similar type of rider (he'll never be able to crush all comers in a timetrial like The Badger did). In order to be the best rider since Hinault, Valverde doesn't have to be as great as Hinault, he only has to be better than everyone else since Hinault. And I think there is a possibility that he will be.

Valverde has been consistently great since a very young age. He was third in the Vuelta at age 23, and fourth the following year. He's the rare combination of high-mountain climber and sprinter. I think that in the next five-to-seven years, he could possibly amass a palmares in the grand tours, the classics, and the world championships (where he's already finished second twice) that will put him up there with the all-time greats.
Hinault retired in 1986. By your reckoning Valverde is better than Lemond, Kelly, Fignon, Delgado, Anderson, Indurain, Museeuw, Pantani, Boonen, Bettini etc. I'm sure he will be good enough to be mentioned in the same breath, but I don't think he eclipse them.

He is 26, by that age Lemond had already won the World's and the Tour once, won the Prestige Pernod (world cup) and the Dauphine in 83 etc.

If you compare him to Kelly it's the same. By 1982 he'd won the Green Jersey in the Tour, the first of 7 Paris-Nice plus a couple of Tour stages.

Boonen is the same age as Valverde and is reigning World Champion and won Paris Roubaix & Flanders last year not to mention the 4 stages of the Tour!

What major events has Valverde won to put him ahead of Boonen, Lemond or Kelly?
 

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fornaca68 said:
I don't think this TdF is as wide open as everyone makes it out to be.
I agree, I think the fight for the win is a 50-50 battle between Ullrich and Basso, assuming Basso shows up with form like he had at the Giro.

I think the battle for the third spot on the podium is pretty wide open with Leipheimer maybe being the only guy to raise his head above the usual suspects, and alot of guys like Landis, Vino, Kloden have given good reason to suspect they might have a rough time making the top-10.
 

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Einstruzende said:
My "darkhorse" is Vlad Karpets for a top 10. Jorg Jaschke will be there too, though that is a bit less of a surprise.

I don't think Vino will make a good showing. Maybe out there in a couple breakaways after he loses some big time earlier in the race. He didn't just look bad in the Dauphine (ala Lance in 2004), he looked down right washed up.
I think Karpets is a solid guy for top 10, maybe top 5. He's finished top 10 in a GT before.
 

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hambinator said:
anyone put Jose Gomez Marchante down for a dark horse?
He was my big TdF dark horse pick before the TdS. Now that I've looked at the TdF parcours and saw how he rode at the TdS, I'm much less confident he'll have a good showing. I think he's a guy at this stage in his career would be much better off going for a stage win and/or the KOM rather than chasing a top 10. Gil was climbing/TTing much better than he was at the TdS.
 
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