Friday File: Le Big Show

The excitement is building and the Tour is ready to roll tomorrow with the grand départ in Leeds.  Here's an interesting tally of numbers...

a. Twenty-two teams. 18 WorldTour & 4 wild card teams. 9 riders per team, total: 198. I wonder where they will put them all on those narrow roads.

b. Two rest days. 21 Stages. Total: 3,664km

c. There will be 4 countries this year: England, France, Belgium, Spain.

d. 6.8 kg is the minimum weight of a bike. Introduced in 2000 by the UCI to 'guarantee that bikes are robust and safe enough to withstand the rigors of the race.

e. Record stage wins: The Cannibal - 34.

f. Calories burned by a rider per day - 6000. In the mountains - 8000.

g. The winner will have a huge payday: 450,000 Euros. Stage winners receive: 22,500 Euros

h. About 12 million spectators. 3.5 billion viewers and 190 countries world wide will watch.

If there's one commercial I don't mind seeing for the next 3-weeks...

Skoda: Simply well done ad!

via castelli-cycling

It seems all or most bets are on the Froome vs Contador upcoming confrontation. I'd like to step away from the obvious 1-2 and look seriously at my pick for podium... Andrew Talansky. They don't call him the pit bull for nothing as he took a bite and won the Criterium du Dauphine. He has a very good supporting team and he's in super form to take the next step towards grand tour success. I believe he'll improve from his 10th from last year.

"In the years past we have approached the Tour with multiple leaders, and multiple goals. This year, we approach it with one clear leader, Andrew Talansky, and our roster is designed to give him the best support possible. We are sorry to leave David Millar home due to illness. His experience is unparalleled and his contributions to the sport and our team are undeniable."

- Jonathan Vaughters.

My friend, Hans is over in Yorkshire to watch the grand départ (what a lucky guy!). I remember him telling me that he's looking forward to standing outside, cheering on the riders and drinking beer. Here's some fun images he sent me.... thanks Hans and enjoy the beer and race!

All photos courtesy Hans Sipma Photography...

Marcel Kittel and his lead out train...

Rui Costa is a genuine contender...

Good luck to Christian Meier!

Christian Meier will ride his first Tour de France. He is a last-minute addition to replace injured Michael Matthews. He'll join fellow Canadian teammate Svein Tuft, recently won the Canadian national championships - ITT & road race. I'll be looking forward to the Backstage Pass!

"It hasn't really sunk in yet, it has been a little bit of a whirlwind 24 hours. It's not the way you want to start a Tour just because a guy is injured, but I have to say, as my first Tour I am extremely excited to start. It's every bike rider's dream to do the Tour de France one day and it's unbelievable it is happening."

- Christian Meier.

3 Cheers to the guys in the Caboose...