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The 99th edition. 30th June - 22nd July. The Parcours: Starts in Liege, Belgium. Overwhelmingly a course for time triallists this year, with over 100 km of individual time trial. Only 3 uphill finishes, only 2 of them in the high mountains, one Alps, one Pyrenees. The queen stage is 16, where the peleton will climb the Col d'Aubisque, the Col du Tourmalet, the Col d'Aspin, and the Col de Peyresourde. Oof. But, like some of the other stages, there's a long descent before the finish line that might stop it being as much of a GC factor as you might expect. All in all I think it looks like a pretty rubbish course, but you can never tell until they ride it. A few notable riders: Cadel Evans - Defending champion. Hasn't been great this year, and neither has his team, but presumably he's been preparing just for this. He'll be in contention for sure, and I hope he wins. Bradley Wiggins - The favourite. All the stars seem to be aligned for him. If he doesn't win this year, he never will. A course that is tailor made for his skills (great at time trails, can hang in there on most climbs), plus absentees that make his life a lot easier. In form this year, winning Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine The only slight caveat is that Sky now have Cavendish, so might not be quite as crazily focussed on Wiggins and nothing else, although that would be ironic: this is the year that such an approach might be justified. Denis Menchov - Again, the course suits him perfectly. Hasn't done much to indicate he's up to it for a while but he is a multiple GT winner and if he could find the form of a couple of years back, he could contend. Again, his last realistic shot at a tour title. Jurgen Van Den Broeck - 5th in 2010, crashed out in the nasty incident that also claimed Vinokourov last year. A possible dark horse. Franck Schleck - Not a course for him, and he doesn't have the form, and he hates his DS (plus marks to him for this, given that it's Bruyneel) and he rode the Giro but pulled out early. So yeah, unlikely to win, but surely he'll do something in the mountains. Vincenzo Nibali - Has a chance, albeit it an outside one. Particularly if Basso serves as a dutiful domestique. Pierre Rolland - Last year's sensational white jersey winner. Will be interesting to see how he follows that up. Europcar have a few issues at the moment though, according to recent stories. Remains to be seen what effect that his on him. See also: Tomas Voeckler - Incredible last year. Surely not repeatable? Mark Cavendish - Will he stick around to Paris with the Olympic road race (and a course almost picked for him to triumph) 6 days later? Doubtful. He surprisingly rode all the Giro when there was fuck all but the points jersey left to win and a lot of horrible mountains, only to lose it on the last day. I'd like him to stick around to the end, but I can't see it happening. Lacks the support of a team dedicated solely to him now he's with Sky, but they have the riders to put him in the right place anyway, and he has shown many times he doesn't require a big train to win. Almost certain to add to a tally of stage wins that looks likely to break records before the end of his career. Peter Sagan - The favourite for the green jersey, despite his youth and relative inexperience. More of an all rounder than Cav, and probably more likely to go all out for green, contesting intermediate sprints and that. Notable Absentees: Alberto Contador - Finally the clenbuterol positive from 1986 was made to stick, so he's suspended. I think it's bollocks that he's back for the Vuelta, but he's not here for the tour, and that could make for a far more open race. Andy Schelck - Out with a broken pelvis. Probably a good thing as he was definitely going to get totally stuffed in the time trials. Still, the mountains will be less interesting without him. Thor Hushovd - Massive boos to this. My picks: I want Cuddles, I suspect Wiggins. Cav to drop out and Sagan to win green. Rolland to win white again. Fuck knows about king of the mountains. The best of news: I think they're really going to nail Armstrong this time. It will be a great day for cycling when him and Johan Bruyneel finally get taken down. Woooo, it's Le Tour!
I am more than a bit obsessed by this at the moment: Amrew Demkew by Hailu Mergia, some Ethiopian Moog and Organ basher, and it is blinking flip amazing. I listen to it at least twice every day to try and absorb some of its power. It could be working...although I couldn't locate the world music thread, so unconfirmed. It probably deserves its own thread anyway. This will nourish you.
It's obviously escaped the notice of the powers that be, but we, England, are about to host THE OLYMPIC GAMES! Everyone everywhere is celebrating this wonderful event. Everyone everywhere it seems but rllmuk. It literally turns my stomach every time I log in here not to be greeted with some sort of Olympic ringed theme. Anyway, if there's anything I'm known for here it's my lack of photoshopping etc ability, so I'm unable to do the job myself. but it would be wonderful if someone could do an Olympic rllmuk logo, and then get it added to the masthead. Then we could all bathe in a warm and sticky Olympic glow no matter what thread we read. What say you, mates?