The Tour de France begins tomorrow with a short race of 8 kilometers — called a prologue — through the streets of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. (No one in the Netherlands cares the slightest bit about this as, right at this moment, the country’s team is taking on Brazil in the World Cup.)
We get a nice prediction of what will happen tomorrow from Lance Armstrong, who this morning gave us a preview with his Twitter:
Checked out prologue course. Straight forward, fast, bit of wind, fast corners, pedaling 95% of the time. Cancellara and Martin r the favs.
Armstrong is referring to Fabian Cancellara, the Swiss rider who makes a specialty of such time-trial races, and was subject of some hilarious recent speculation about hiding a motor in his bicycle. “Martin,” meanwhile, is the German rider Tony Martin, who rides for the American team HTC-Columbia. As for his own chances, Lance tells the Associate Press he won’t win tomorrow’s short race.
If you’re rooting for Lance, you don’t need him to win tomorrow’s prologue anyway. Just watch for him to gain some seconds on his main rivals, Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, and Brad Wiggins.
Eurosport has a nice roundup of European journalists talking about the Tour. They point out that the first week of this year’s event will be overshadowed by the World Cup, that Contador may be unbeatable in his bid for a repeat win, and that Armstrong’s biggest challenge is his age.
Contador, however, continues to say (in this Telegraph interview) that he takes Lance’s chances seriously, and also expects stiff competition from Luxembourg climber Andy Schleck.