Why Basso? Well, I started with the favorites and started eliminating riders who would not win the tour. That left Basso as the only man standing. I know that is not really a ringing endorsement but that’s all I have this year. Here is my thought process.
Contador. Now that Contador is in, everyone is jumping on the Spaniard’s bandwagon. I’m not so sure. I think those bandwagon jumpers will be saying “Where’s the beef?” three weeks from now. I just don’t think you can win the double (Giro and Tour) in this day and age. The last rider wo did so was Marco Pantani in 1998 and he had a little help. Even with pharmacology, he needed a faltering Jan Ulrich to take the jersey. I’d rather look at more recent examples where riders who fared well at the Giro were spectacularly absent from the Tour. The most recent example is Ivan Basso who, for the first time in his career, is skipping the Giro to focus on the Tour. Why should I argue with him. Bottom line, you can’t have both.
Andy Schleck. Those who are not falling in behind Contador are going with Andy Schleck. I fully understand that and I will put Andy on the top of my list of picks from the heart. My problem is I look at the TTT and the Individual Time Trials and I can’t help but hear the quote from the famous Ty Webb. “You’re not good Andy, you stink.” So Andy will play the role of PouPou again this year.
Levi is losing the race against father time. If he had a couple of years back he could sneak a peek at the podium and maybe even the top step. I’ll say it flat out, I have never been a believer in Cadel. The temperamental Aussie is good at most disciplines but not great at any. I don’t see him even on the podium. Bradley Wiggins is more of a top five finisher, not a real contender.
An unexpected podium visit may come from Rabobank’s Robert Gesink.
So that leaves Basso. He knows how to win and he is finally focused on this race. While not a great time trialist, he is good enough not to lose the Tour in the race of truth which should be enough to win the Tour.