Is this finally Mark Cavendish's year to win the yellow jersey?
Don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing better than when cycling gets a bit of mainstream media interest to get a wider audience interested in The Greatest Sport On The Planet.
But of course, when journalists more used to writing articles about football and other sports that are dead easy to understand turn their hand to the sometimes baffling world of professional cycling, things don’t always go to plan.
Unfortunately, that’s the case with the Mirror’s Tour de France preview, which is not only a great attempt to explain the race to an audience that will only follow cycling for a maximum of three weeks per year, but will also give more avid cycling fans a nice little chuckle.
The article gets off to an inauspicious start, saying that “despite all the good Team Sky and Froome appears to have done for their sport, the jealousy of success from rivalling teams has reached a dangerous new stage in terms of hostility.”
Nope, we’re not sure what that means either…
We’re also given a few statistics about the race, including the fact that “it’s said that 176 riders from 22 different teams will fight it out for glory”. “It’s said”? We think you can trust your sources on that one.
Next up come some previews of a few of the key stages, with the Mirror doing a pretty good job of identifying some of the crucial days where the race will be won and lost.
However, the preview of stage nine over the cobbles to Roubaix also explains how there could be “a lot of crashes and breakages every few moments, while those seriously challenging could lose valuable minutes if sucked into the peloton mass.”
Finally, we come to the final part of the article, which now contains a list of five riders to watch, but had contained not only a look at the main contenders, but also an assessment of each of the teams where the Mirror starts to come unstuck.
(Unfortunately for us that section has now been heavily edited, but don’t worry, there are screenshots)
Naturally the Mirror tips Nairo Quintana as one of Froome’s main rivals, but we’ll admit that we were slightly baffled when they explained that Quintana might be isolated in the mountains due to a lack of team support. “What about Mikel Landa?” you ask…
Well, although we thought he had transferred from Team Sky to Movistar, the Mirror explains that Mikel Landa in fact rides for Mikel Landa [insert Movistar internal team rivalry joke here] and presumably now enjoys plenty of team support with seven other Mikel Landas alongside him for the big mountain stages. The only issue is, how much time will all those Mikel Landas lose in the team time trial?
The run down of the teams also appears to be stuck in a bit of a time warp. Apparently Trek-Segafredo will be looking to get star man Alberto Contador into contention for a top 10, Direct Energie will be gunning for Thomas Voeckler, Cannondale-Drapac will be relying on the services of “Andrew Tolansky”, and Quick-Step will be riding for Dan Martin.
And finally, to complete the full house of cycling facepalms, Mark Cavendish could finally have a chance of getting onto the podium in Paris.