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Tour de France 101: Who’s favored to win?

The obvious pick for the 2010 Tour de France winner is last year's victor Alberto Contador. But youngster Andy Schleck, a consummate climber, could do well on this year's especially hilly course.

Astana rider Alberto Contador of Spain cycles during the fifth stage of the Tour de France between Epernay and Montargis, July 8.

Bogdan Cristel/Reuters

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The obvious choice: Alberto Contador

Contador trounced the field last year, revving ahead of all but the Schleck brothers on the grueling mountain passes. In 2009, the Spanish cyclist beat seven-time Tour champ, Lance Armstrong, by more than five minutes. Contador's Astana team is weaker this year. But other riders, including American Greg LeMond in 1989, have won with weak teams.

The youngster: Andy Schleck
Schleck was second only to Contador in last year's Tour de France, with the two of them and Schleck’s older brother, Frank, pulling away from the rest of the pack in the mountains. Frank, Andy’s greatest ally, crashed and is already out of the 2010 Tour, so the promising young rider from Luxembourg will have to battle Contador alone this year.

The Brit: Bradley Wiggins
No British rider has ever won the Tour, but some think Wiggins could change all that. A six-time Olympic medalist, he finished fourth in last year’s Tour de France, just 37 seconds behind Armstrong.

The known unknown: Lance Armstrong
No one doubts the grit of the only man to ever win seven consecutive Tour titles. While Armstrong fell short of his goal of getting an eighth victory last year, he surprised many by finishing third. But this year’s course is particularly grueling in the mountain stages, where Armstrong couldn’t hang with the best last year.

The dark horse: Cadel Evans
A former mountain biker who’s married to an Italian pianist, Evans finished second in the 2007 and 2008 Tours. But he was a disappointing 30th last year – a result many blame on poor support from his team. Riding with a new team this year (BMC), look for Evans to return to form.

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