Tour de France - Gilbert: Giro has hurt Contador
EXCLUSIVE: The world's top-ranked cyclist, Philippe Gilbert, casts his eye over the contenders for the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.
The Belgian one-day specialist, who earlier this year completed a hat-trick of Ardennes' Classics victories, will provide daily analysis of the day's action.
The Tour leaves Vendée on Saturday before arriving in Paris 21 stages and 3,430km later on Sunday July 24 and Gilbert gives his views on the race favourites.
Alberto Contador: He had to really go very deep in his reserves during the Giro. That was very hard for him because of the climate, the terrain and the transfers. I think he has left a lot of energy out there. He has the right for the presumption of innocence like any other citizen. If he was given the permission to start the Tour, why not? The only thing I wish is the justice to be done and that he won't be deprived of a possible victory or a possible honour because it wouldn't be good for our sport.
Andy Schleck: I think his form this season has been a little bit worse than in previous years. He has had good performances - but each time a little bit less impressive than in previous years. But he is able to improve quickly when he is approaching his targets. He shouldn't be forgotten. His brother Frank will be present and we all know that the two brothers are always very efficient together.
Cadel Evans: He prepares very well for his goals. He won Tirreno-Adriatico, he won the Tour of Romandy and he was second at the Dauphiné. It's nearly a perfect record. He is very serene, his team is 100% at his service, so I put him among the potential winners in Paris.
There is also of course Bradley Wiggins who has become very thin in the last two years, he is now aware of his potential in stage races. And you should not forget Alexandre Vinokourov either who is also preparing well for the Tour de France. They both can also contend for final victory.
Robert Gesink seems to be showing the strain at the moment. Whether the previous races were not important for him or whether his training is very hard, it's something that I don't know. Anyway, he should be there at the Tour.