2009 Tour de France Predictions
Who will win the Tour de France 2009, who will finish in the top 3, and who will win the other jersey competitions? Gerald Churchill will tell you.
Who will be the winner of the Tour de France 2009? This writer cannot see anyone other than Contador winning the 2009 Tour. He is the best climber in the field, and he has broadened himself into a very good time trialist. Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Haimar Zubeldia, and Andreas Kloeden will provide a superb supporting cast. The smart money is on Contador.
Denis Menchov (Rabobank) should finish second. The Russian has always been a first-rate climber, but his time trialing has been his Achilles' heel. The two-time Vuelta winner, however, scored a time trial victory during the 2009 Giro d'Italia, which he won. If Menchov has recovered from the Giro, he should be a man to beat in France.
Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) is a good bet for third. The Luxembourger, who won the 2008 Tour's best young rider competition, can climb with the best, and he has a very good team behind him. Time trialing is Schleck's weak point, which will keep him from rising higher than third.
Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam), the defending champion, cannot hope to win in 2009. The Spaniard can climb, but he cannot time trial with the best. Moreover, Sastre beat a relatively weak field in 2008, and he now rides for a weaker team. Pencil the Spaniard in for fourth.
Levi Leipheimer (Team Astana) finished third last year and won the 2008 Tour's final time trial. Leipheimer's time trial strength is still present, but his inability to attack on the toughest ascents will hold him back. Moreover, Leipheimer will ride for Contador and Lance Armstrong (both from Astana) and will not be a free agent. Leipheimer should finish fifth.
Lance Armstrong will share the Astana team leadership with Contador. Before long, he will find himself working for the Spaniard. The man from Austin is not far enough along on the comeback trail to contend for the podium. Contador and Leipheimer, who have not be retired and who have more racing under their belts than Armstrong, are fitter than the Texan and will demostrate as much in the 2009 Tour.
Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), who finished second in 2007 and 2008, will not do so in 2009. His unwillingness and inability to attack in the high mountains will keep him from moving up on GC in the mountains. Evans is no better than several other good time trialists, and he has a weak team behind him. Pencil him in for seventh.
Michael Rogers (Columbia-HTC) has the right mix of skills for stage racing. The Australian is a good climber, and he is a three-time world time trial champion. Years of injury and illness, however, have held him back. Rogers is not quite at the level of those who have "been there" all along. The Columbia man will make an honorable showing, however. Pencil him in for eighth.
Roman Kreuzinger (Liquigas), the winner of the 2008 Tour de Suisse, is one of cycling's brightest young stars. He can climb very well, but his time trialing must improve. However, the Czech finished 12th in 2008, and at 23, he has plenty of time to improve. He will finish ninth in 2009.
Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) suffered a broken collarbone when he crashed in this year's Tour of Italy. The crash probably threw off his preparation enough to drop him from fourth, where the American finished last year. Vande Velde will finish 10th in 2009.
In other competitions, Kreuzinger will win the white jersey competition, with Schleck winning the polka dot jersey and, Hushovd grabbing the green one. Stay with www.roadcycling.com during the Tour de France 2009 and beyond for cycling as it should be.
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