The 2012 Tour de France got underway over the weekend and will culminate four weeks from now, on July 22, when the world’s greatest endurance athletes take one final ride through the streets of Paris.
This year, with a number of big-name cyclists sitting this one out thanks to injuries— no Alberto Contador, no Andy Schleck, no Thor Hushovd—and with a course that is more favorable to sprinters than climbers, the competition is more wide open than ever. Though experts and oddsmakers always select a few favorites to win cycling’s most prestigious race, in reality there are a number of guys who could be wearing the famed le maillot jaune (the yellow jersey) at the end of the month.
Thus, today we present you with the cyclists to watch at the Tour de France. Some of them have better shots at winning than others, but they all bring something interesting to the table.