Are you excited? I'm massively excited. Biggest sporting event of the summer for me.
Another year, Thursday pre-tour doping scandal. L'Equipe do their usual thing of accusing a team right on the eve of the race. This time it's Europcar. The team boss is denying it all, unsurprisingly. Who knows how much truth is behind it? Not me.
Anyway, that aside, this is very much a tour for time trialers who can climb, rather than climbers who can time trial. So I don't think Frank Schleck or Samu Sanchez are going to get on the podium this year. Wiggins and Evans are the obvious favourites - but I don't think we should assume it's gonna be a straight duel between them.
Van Den Broeck was one of the few who could live with the Sky moutain train in the Dauphine and he can time trial.
Menchov has been eerily quiet for ages and if there was ever a tour for him, this would be it.
The Giro wasn't as harsh as it's been in recent years either, so I don't think we can discount Ryder Hesjedal for a shot at yellow.
Robert Gesink looked great in winning the Tour of California. He can more than hold his own in the time trial and climb with the best of him. I reckon he's got a realistic shot at the podium this year.
This might be the last year Levi Leipheimer has any kind of chance (however slim) at winning le tour. I think he'll come up short, but has a decent chance of finishing in the top 5.
Nibali's shown some pretty good form this season too, but he's not the best at time trialing and the sky boys managed to drop him on the climbs in the Dauphine, so I'd be surprised if he made the top 5.
So: top 10 overall prediction:
4. Van Den Broeck
Despite the strength of team sky, I think Cadel's nous may ultimately prove to be the difference between 1st and 2nd
Sprinting is gonna be very interesing indeed. As Team Sky are set up to deliver overall victory, Cav won't have much of a lead-out train. And as his focus seems to be more on the olympics this year anyway, I don't think he'll bag as many stage wins as in recent years. Should still be good for a couple, but Sagan, Griepel, Goss and Kittel are going to real threats, and I can't see beyond Sagan for green.
As for the rest, I'm hoping for great things from EVB, Teejay Van Garderen, Ritchie Porte and, as they have chance for the overall this year, some long moutain breakaways from Scarponi and Dan Martin.
If Tony Martin destroys everyone in the time trials (which is always a possibility) it will be interesting to see if he tries to hang on in in the mountain stages. Could be another dark horse...
Sorry for the very long post. I'm pretty pumped.