Can’t get enough Tour info? I just found a European site that has done their homework and put together a brief review each team in the 2009 Tour de France.Ã‚Â Check outÃ‚Â cyclingweekly.co.ukÃ‚Â for the full 2009 Team Guide.Ã‚Â Also, for the record, Bikerumor.com contributor EvanÃ‚Â says it must be pronounced “Tour de Fronce“. He is quite serious about this.Ã‚Â
Below are teams ASTANA, COLUMBIA-HTC, and SAXO BANK…
Sponsor:Ã‚Â A consortium of Kazakh companies
Bikes:Ã‚Â Trek frames, with SRAM components
Manager:Ã‚Â Johan Bruyneel
Key riders:Ã‚Â Alberto Contador (Spa), Lance Armstrong (Usa), Levi Leipheimer (Usa)
How will they do? Very well. The strength-in-depth of their lineup is remarkable. Simply, the Tour will be unsatsifactory if they fail to win overall. Alberto Contador is their best bet for victory, having shown no signs of slowing down after his 2007 overall victory. As much media hype as he may create, Armstrong will do well to finish in the top five overall.
Last year:Ã‚Â After a chequered year of doping misdemeanours, Tour organisers ASO did not give them a wild-card, leading to some world-class tantrums, most notably the Ã¢â‚¬ËœLet Levi Ride’ campaign.
Tour pedigree:Ã‚Â Non-starters; the team was withdrawn halfway through the 2007 after news of Vinokorov’s positive test, and were not given an invitation to last year’s race. Third time lucky?
Surprise package:Ã‚Â This team has so many proven performers that they have no need for a surprise package.
Factoid:Ã‚Â In Armstrong, Contador, Kloden, Leipheimer and Zubeldia, the team has five riders who have finished in the Tour de France top five before.
Sponsor:Ã‚Â Columbia manufactures outdoor clothing. HTC manufactures telecommunications equipment
Bikes:Ã‚Â Scott frames with Shimano components
Managers:Ã‚Â Bob Stapleton, Rolf Aldag, Brian Holm, Allan Peiper
Key riders:Ã‚Â Mark Cavendish (GBr), Kim Kirchen (Lux), Michael Rogers (Aus)
How will they do?Ã‚Â
Very well. Like Rabobank, another team that can produce wins in almostÃ‚Â any competition – however, their cohesion sets them apart. Cavendish,Ã‚Â the sprinter to beat at the moment, will win several stages and a greenÃ‚Â jersey if he wins some intermediate sprints, Rogers could finish in theÃ‚Â top ten overall after a promising Giro.
Last year:Ã‚Â Superb. Four stages for Cavendish, a stage for Burghardt, the yellow jersey and seventh place for Kirchen.
Harking back to Telekom and the days of Ullrich and Zabel, it’s beenÃ‚Â both excellent and highly-chequered by suspicion. Still, Columbia is aÃ‚Â very different team now.
Surprise package:Ã‚Â No-one – after all, Mark Cavendish doesn’t need someone upstaging him.
Sponsor:Ã‚Â Saxo Bank is an investment bank
Bikes:Ã‚Â Specialized frames with SRAM components
Manager:Ã‚Â Bjarne Riis
Key riders:Ã‚Â Andy Schleck (Lux), Frank Schleck (Lux), Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Jens Voigt (Ger)
How will they do?Ã‚Â
They will rally behind Andy Schleck and help him on to the podium; thisÃ‚Â is arguably the strongest team all-round at the 2009 race. The questionÃ‚Â is, does the fresh-faced talent have the stamina and experience toÃ‚Â reach the top step?
Last year:Ã‚Â A first Tour win as directuer for Riis from Sastre, as well as two stage wins and the team classification.
Tour pedigree:Ã‚Â From early days as CSC and Jalabert, this outfit has perennially performed with aplomb here.
Surprise package:Ã‚Â Kurt-Asle Arvesen can’t really be called a surprise package since heÃ‚Â won a stage of last year’s Tour but after the quiet year he’s had soÃ‚Â far, we reckon he’s aiming to do something at the 2009 Tour too.