While Directeurs sportifs have been making difficult choices, I’ve got the liberty of not having to choose from the riders I’m paying. So here’s the nine riders I’ve selected to ride in the colours of Chasing Wheels (basically La Vie Claire vandalised with a marker pen and tippex).
We might be a bit light in the mountains and short on sprinters, but actually I reckon it’s a team that would have a pretty good shot at winning a stage and the overall.
Alberto Contador of Saxo Bank – Push aside everything else and he is an incredible rider, attempting an incredible double. When he goes, he’s gone and there is nothing more thrilling than him out of the saddle on a climb. If people can continue to eulogise Pantani, then there is a place for Wee Bert in the pantheon.
Amets Txurruka of Euskatel Euskadi – An old BBC 606 favourite with the coolest surname. How would you even start to pronounce it without a guide? Handy climber, very attacking. Plus everyone needs a carrot in their life and this one has won the prix combativité.
Anthony Delaplace of Saur Sojasun – The youngest rider in the race, born 11 September 1989. There is no better way to understand the race than through the experience of a young debutant.
Daniel Oss of Liquigas-Cannondale – Another Italian with his head in the wind. Great hair. Magnificent hair. The sort of powerhouse that every team needs.
David Moncoutié of Cofidis – he’s been labelled enigmatic and unambitious but he has been nothing but true to his morals and values throughout his career. It may be the sunset of his career, but he can walk away knowing he never crossed that line and that his talent was genuine. His palmares speak loudly of the shameful dishonesty of others.
Jens Voigt of Leopard Trek – Because if we’re going to watch out for the youngest, we’d better keep an eye on the coffin-dodgers too. Jens is Jens and everyone else is a soft white roll. If you still don’t get it, read his column on why he rides and inspires.
Manuel Quinziato of Team BMC Racing – He’s got great taste in music and is going to selflessly stick himself in wind for Cadel Evans. He studies for a law degree in the off-season. He’s a friend of my mate Perry and I’ve got some of his old Liquigas kit.
Philippe Gilbert of Omega Pharma-Lotto – The best one day rider of his generation. Proven winner and the lumpy first week offers plenty of opportunity for him to win stages, maybe even take a jersey. Classy and clean as a whistle.
I’ve been forced to pick a slightly different team for Tour Champion which is a bit of a bugger. Nonetheless I’m looking forward to seeing what a disastrous DS I turn out to be.