After several years of writing Team-By-Team Tour de France previews, I want to do something different this year, as many of them tend to sound the same from one year to the next andâ€”in many casesâ€”from one team to the next. For example, Quick-Stepâ€™s team preview from last yearâ€™s Tour de France might very much resemble this yearâ€™s save for the addition of Tom Boonen to the roster and a mention Sylvain Chavanelâ€™s 2010 exploits in his absence. The same might be said of the French teams in this yearâ€™s race. Frankly, Iâ€™ve grown tired of writing â€œ_____________________ comes to the Tour with a talented group of opportunists, hunting for stage wins and exposure perhaps securing itâ€™s title sponsor for another season or two.â€
So this year, PavÃ© will take a different approach to previewing the riders and teams to watch at this yearâ€™s Grand Boucle by forecasting each nationâ€™s chances. After all, years ago (1968 was the last) the Tour de France was an event run with national teams competing against one another for the biggest prizes. And while trade teams and corporate sponsors have changed the landscape significantly, fans still largely root for their compatriots. And just to thorough, weâ€™ll still take a look at each team, only weâ€™ll do it statistically in an attempt to evoke what we think of when we remember the backs of the baseball cards we used to collect when we were kids.
One brief disclaimer: like every year, Tour de France rosters are likely to change right up until the last minute as teams try to find the best mix of healthy, rested, and motivated riders. We donâ€™t have the luxury of waiting until the last minute to publish our preview, so forgive us for the occasional oversight due to last-minute roster additions and subtractions. Feel free to keep everyone up to date via the comments section of each post.
As always, thanks for readingâ€”look for more to follow soon!