Hello all...long time lurker, first time poster...
I'm curious who you all predict will win the polka-dot jersey this year. It seems like there are clear favorites for the GC and the green jersey. But, it doesn't seem like anyone has emerged as a favorite for the king of the mountains. Obviously, someone who is a GC contender could end up with it just by controlling major mountain stages. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that there is someone in the starting list that will emerge, like Virenque--or others before him--to strategically attack on the long, multi-mountain stages.
It likely won't be Armstrong, Ullrich, Vinokourov, Leipheimer, etc...because those guys would never be able to escape the peloton.
It likely won't be a lieutenant to any of those guys simply because it would be stupid to burn someone's major climbing support on a stage that may prevent the guy from providing support on a later stage.
Who? Heras? I don't think so because he will be marked on an attack. Botero...nope...especially because he can TT.
2011 Bianchi Infinito, 2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker
Carlos Sastre (my pick, changing from Sandy Casar)
any Spaniard I neglected to mention
any up-n-comer that wants to compete for the KoM (Karpets?)
This should be a great KoM competition. Depends a lot on how certain guys ride. I think guys like Leipheimer, Julich, Botero, and Heras could compete well for the KoM if they probably didn't have their eyes on the maillot jaune.
Botero! Indifferent stage 1 TT, going to have 1 horrible day in the mtns., and by then... the booby prize beckons.
Yeah it's gotta be smb. from a team without any genuine GC aspirant, and plus without a long early TT for people to lose lots of time on, anyone even remotely near the top of GC will be well marked the first couple of steep stages. I think it'll either be a random, upper-middle-of-the-pack climbing domestique, or a GC aspirant who blows up on the first mtn. stage or two and has a crap finish guaranteed, thereby allowing them some off-the-front freedom. Piepoli? Kirchen? Mayo? Heras? Botero! That's my pick.
All I hope is that it's a competition with more than one rider actually interested; anyone complaining about USPS' total control of the race the past few years hasn't paid attention to how dreadful the KoM "competition" has been.