Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

In the Spotlight

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

In the Spotlight

Article excerpt

Riders to watch this year at the Tour de France

Riders to watch this year at the Tour de France.

Chris Froome, Britain

Age: 28

Team: Sky

Last year's finish: 2nd

Froome's path to stardom has not been typical. From mountain biking in Kenya, his birthplace, he graduated to collegiate road racing in South Africa. Though he made a quick transition to European racing, riding his first Tour in 2009 at 24, his ascent was slowed by a three-year battle with bilharzia, a parasitic infection he contracted during a trip to Africa in 2010. Since then, he has improved: second over all at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana, second at the 2012 Tour and a time trial bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics. At 1.85 meters, or 6-foot-1, and 69 kilograms, or 152 pounds, he can look ungainly on the bike but is an exceptional climber and time trialist.

Alberto Contador, Spain.

Age:30

Team: Saxo-Tinkoff

Last year's finish:Did not ride

Called El Pistolero, Contador is an aggressive rider known for attacking in the mountains. In Stage 17 of last year's Vuelta, he broke away from his main rivals, winning the stage and eventually the race. It was his first victory since returning from a doping ban that kept him out of last year's Tour and stripped him of his 2010 title. The Vuelta victory suggested he had regained the form that made him the most dominant stage racer in the post-Armstrong era, but he has had a perplexingly weak spring season.

Tejay van Garderen, United States

Age:24

Team:BMC

Last year's finish:5th

In the 2012 Tour, van Garderen became the first American to win the young riders competition since Andy Hampsten in 1986. He cemented his standing as the best American rider by winning the Amgen Tour of California in May, his first stage-race victory. He is capable in the mountains but strongest in the time trials.

Cadel Evans, Australia

Age:36

Team: BMC

Last year's finish: 7th

Evans entered the Tour last year as the defending champion but rode more like a star in decline as he failed to keep pace with Bradley Wiggins and Froome on crucial climbs. …

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