Tour time!
ALLEZ - Jose Vicente ‘JV’ Araneta (The Freeman) - June 27, 2016 - 12:00am

It's the time of year again for the greatest sporting event in the universe, the Tour de France. From July 2-24, the best cyclists in the world will be racing elbow to elbow for the chance to wear a piece of cloth the Yellow Jersey.

This 103rd edition will be 3,535km long and split into 21 stages. There will be two ITT’s, six mountain stages, seven flat stages, five medium mountain stages, a hilly stage (whatever that means) and three rest days.

There are two overwhelming favourites this year, Chris Froome, the 2-time and defending champion, and the diminutive Colombian, Nairo Quintana, the Girod’Italia winner in 2014. On paper, the duo are heads and shoulder above the other pretenders. Froome won the Tour preparation race, the Criterium Dauphine early this month. The last two times he won it, he went on to win the Tour. Nobody has the power and the team like Froome has at his disposal. Quintana is also on form, winning a low level race last week, the Route de Sud. He also won the ITT, which augurs well for the Colombian, as there are two ITT’s in the menu. However, Froome is the better time-trailist between the two.

Just below are Alberto Contador (2007 & 2009 TdF, 2008 & 2015 Giro and the 2008, 2012 & 2014 Vuelta a Espana.) and VinzenzoNibali (2014 Tour, 2010 Vuelta, 2016 Giro) who recently won the Giro last month. Contador, at 33yo, is getting long in the tooth, so I don’t he can out-duel Froome and Quintana. During the Dauphine, Froome dropped the Spaniard, so it spoke a lot about his preparation. Nibali is fresh from winning the Giro and in the eyes of many, winning the Giro-Tour double is difficult. Marco Pantani in 1998 was the last to do this second elusive feat in cycling, and only done 12 times by seven cyclists. (The greatest feat is the Giro-Tour-Worlds triple, won only by Eddy Merckx in 1974 and Stephan Roche in 1987).

Another step down are the Fabio Aru’s and the Richie Porte’s. Aru, Nibali’s teammate, is his heir apparent in the team and in the hearts of the tifosis resulting in Nibali going to another team next year. Aru is a great climber but a so-so time-triallist. He’ll need another 2-3 years for ripening. Richie Porte has been the Froome’s super domestic when he rode for the Brit. However, I don’t think he has the talent to compete with the Froome’s, the Nibali’s and the Contador’s of the world.

Finally, here’s the list if the above mentioned suddenly will quit after the second week: Frenchmen Thibaut Pinot and RomainBardet, Brit Geraint Thomas and American Tejay Van Garderen. Of this list, Van Garderen is probably this highest paid and used to have the greatest potential, and if there is a another list, he should be there.

***

The Uling Road Race Classic will be this weekend. If you want to join, please go to www.cebucycling.com and look for the thread or go to Cyclelogic at Park Mall for registration……I almost figured in an accident yesterday in Barangay Mainit, Naga, when an old man on a motorbike suddenly turned left. I was just less than an inch from hitting the man, and we and the onlookers were relieved that nothing happened. Strangely, it felt like it happened so slowly, in fact my last thought before I stopped was, “My Colnago will be trashed!”

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