Video: Kelly predicts an Evans-Wiggins battle in Tour de France
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Friday, June 29, 2012

Video: Kelly predicts an Evans-Wiggins battle in Tour de France

by Shane Stokes at 3:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Tour de France, Video
Former world number one weighs up Hesjedal’s chances of taking rare double

Sean KellyRegarded as one of the best analysts in the sport, Sean Kelly has echoed the assessment of others in stating that there are two clear contenders for this year’s Tour de France.

The former world number one and four-time Maillot Vert winner sees the race as being a likely showdown between last year’s winner and the general classification rider who has been in the best form thus far this year.

“I think Wiggins and Evans are the two guys who are the big favourites,” Kelly told VeloNation after last Sunday’s Irish road race championships in Clonmel, close to his home town of Carrick on Suir. “After that, there are a number of guys like [Jurgen] Van den Broeck, who is preparing big time for the Tour de France this year, plus four or five others who could cause problems. But for me the two big ones are Evans and Wiggins.”

Kelly finished fourth and fifth overall in the race during his career, and also won the 1988 Vuelta a España. However it has often been said that he could potentially have taken a Tour victory if he had not tried to be in top form throughout the early season, spending energy winning races like Paris-Nice and the Classics.

As Kelly’s career drew to a close, more and more riders specialised. The GC contenders focussed their main efforts around being good for July, even if this meant they were quieter the rest of the year.

Given that Kelly potentially ate into his reserves by being good throughout the season, what does he think of those who say that it will be very difficult for Wiggins to take the Tour after winning Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné?

“It depends on how good Wiggins was at the Dauphiné,” he answered. “Was he at 100 percent or was he at 95 percent? That is the question,” he asked, before fully debating the question.

In the video interview below Kelly also discusses the chances of Ryder Hesjedal, who is trying to pull off an extremely rare Giro-Tour double. That was last achieved back in 1998 when Marco Pantani took both, and the Canadian is gunning to become only the eighth rider to achieve the feat.

If he does so, he’ll be joining Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernhard Hinault, Stephen Roche, Miguel Indurain and Pantani. It’s a tough target, but what does Kelly think?

The Irishman also gives his thoughts on the Tour de France debut of compatriot Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), who is targeting a stage win and perhaps also the King of the Mountains jersey, as well as Ag2r La Mondiale leader Nicolas Roche.

The latter was second at the road race nationals and was tenth in the preceding Tour de Suisse, showing that his form is on the rise.


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