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2011 Tour de France Preview: Top five riders to watch

The Challenger

Andy Schleck (Luxembourg) Leopard-Trek: 3.25-to-1

Why he can win: In the unlikely case that Contador stumbles or doesn’t start the race at all, Schleck has proven he’s capable of climbing away from the rest of the Tour de France field. The 26-year-old snagged a pair of summit-finish stage wins at last years Tour, and were it not for an ill-timed dropped chain he might have had a third. This year’s race includes four summit finishes.

2010 Tour de France, stage 15. Andy Schleck's chain drop.
Doh! Andy Schleck, in yellow, goes looking for his chain on stage 15 of the 2010 Tour. Contador, third in this photo, soon zoomed by and took over the yellow jersey. AFP Photo.

What could trip him up: Schleck suffers from the same malady that’s plagued many of history’s great climbers, he’s not much of a time trialist. A year ago, he lost 31 seconds to Contador in the final time trial — and that was considered a good day. The good news this year is that the route includes just one individual time trial, and whatever time Schleck loses there, he might be able to make up in the earlier team time trial because of the superior team behind him. Bottom line, he’s got a puncher’s chance to win the race, which is more than anyone else can say.

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