For cyclists this is the event we've been waiting for - Tour de France
Roadcycling.com will be analyzing the Tour de France stages twice a week.
The 99th edition of the Tour de France started in Liege, Belgium with the prologue and, as usual, will end 21 race days later in Paris. If you are a cycling fan this is the race you've been waiting for.
As with any sporting event there are the favorites for the overall victory. Defending Tour de France champion Cadel Evans of BMC Racing Team and Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky are on the short list of potential winners. However, this is sport and you never know what can happen on a narrow road. A miscalculation around a tight turn, a spectator leaning too far into the road or a mechanical at an inopportune time can ruin yellow jersey dreams.
In most cases Grand Tours kick off with a prologue time trial - a short effort that sets the general classification. So did the 2012 Tour de France. Not surprisingly Fabian Cancellara took the victory and yellow jersey with a dominating win. Seven seconds behind was Wiggins and 17 seconds back was Evans.
But looking deeper into the prologue results there were a couple of surprises. Evan's BMC teammate, Tejay van Garderen, finished in fourth place, once again showing he's a rider for the future. However, could the 23-year old American be called upon if Evans goes pear shaped? Not yet - but soon.
Another eyebrow raiser was the poor performance by Frank Schleck. We all knew that the older Schleck has the time trial skills of a pregnant turtle but still, we expected more than 136th place, 38 seconds back.
On the flip side was Peter Sagan going all out. He was on the gas so hard that going around the traffic circle his bike started to wash out and he rode "tripod" style to complete the turn and still keep the bike upright.
For those who don't know, Sagan is a former mountain bike junior world champion, so he has the skills to keep the bike upright in any situation. On that note, have you seen Sagan pulling wheelies on his road bike? Yeah, he knows how to handle a bike.
Another guy who was going all out was another BMC rider, Philippe Gilbert. While he didn't win (and I don't think he honestly thought he could) it was an effort to put himself near the top of the G.C. and perhaps sneak into yellow later in the week. We'll see in a couple of days if that strategy works out. With the season he's had so far, the Belgian needs to do something in July.
As usual, the Tour de France spreads more rumors than a middle school girl at recess. The top rumor of the day and looking more realistic is that the Schlecks, along with Kim Andersen and Jens Voigt will transfer to a new German team in 2013. This possible new team is sponsored by a shampoo company. It sounds a little crazy but a quick Google search and a couple of sites claim that the cosmetic industry makes 40 billion dollars alone in the US and