The Big Issue

Menchov and Gesink could be a very powerful alliance. Menchov has won the Giro and the Vuelta, even ifhe's always fallen a little short at the Tour. He's not up there with Contador and Schleck, but he's in the next bracket with Wiggins and Sastre. Gesink is one of the brightest young stage race talents in the world. The question for him is whether to ride for the GC or aim for a stage win in the Pyrenees. He says he's not interested in the polka-dot jersey. A prologue top five for Boom is possible as he debuts on home soil.

Denis Menchov had a stinker. Cut him some slack, though, he had won the Giro

|uan Manuel Garate won the stage at Mont Ventoux

The team got some early bonding in by siding with Lance against Alberto at the Tour

Saxo Bank

Bjame Riis's team which, if rumours are to be believed, may need a stellar Tour de France to attract a new sponsor. Rival teams may be readying themselves to pay big bucks for Riis's biggest assets — Fabian Cancellara and the Schlecks. Yes, Andy and Frank come as a pair.

Team Sky

They're going to marginal gain their way to victory. They've got the backing of Rupert Murdoch and pots of cash. They're really good at time trials but less so when you enter some 'uncontrollables', such as much stronger riders attacking.

©STAR RIDERS ANDY SCHLECK

AGE: 25 FROM: Luxembourg TOUR BEST: second in 2009

DISTINGUISHING FEATURES: butter-wouldn't-melt expression, roving eye.

HE'S THE ONE WHO: is the second best rider in the world and probably the only man with a cast-iron chance of beating Contador. He'll be better than he was last year, while it's difficult to see Contador getting any better.

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