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2012 Riders To Watch

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With the 2012 Tour de France underway, there are a number of riders that will look to capture the yellow jersey when the grueling three-week race ends.


Chasing the defending champion Cadel Evans are a group of riders including Frank Schleck, up-and-coming Dutch rider Robert Gesink and Bradley Wiggins.


Canadian Ryder Hesjedal was injured in a crash in Stage 6 and was forced to withdraw from the race.


Ryder Hesjedal

Ryder Hesjedal
2012 Team: Garmin-Barracuda Age: 31
2011 Tour Result: 18th Best Tour Result: 6th (2010)
Notes: Hesjedal's victory in May at the Giro d'Italia made the former mountain biker from British Columbia the first Canadian to win one of cycling's three major tour races. It was also the first major victory for Hesjedal, whose sixth place in the 2010 Tour de France was the highest Canadian finish in the race in 22 years.

Cadel Evans

Cadel Evans
2012 Team: BMC Racing Team Age: 35
2011 Tour Result: 1st Best Tour Result: 1st (2011)
Notes: After back-to-back second place finishes on the Tour in 2007 and 2008, Evans struggled with a sub-par team and injuries in the two years that followed. In 2011, he and his team put it all together, and he has every chance of repeating, backed by a strong team that includes rising American star Tejay van Garderen and veteran George Hincapie, who's starting his record-setting 17th Tour de France.

Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins
2012 Team: Team Sky Age: 32
2011 Tour Result: DNF Best Tour Result: 4th (2009)
Notes: After crashing out of last year's Tour, Wiggins has raced well this year including the never-before-equalled triple of Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie, and the Criterium Dauphine. Wiggins can also count on a powerful Team Sky squad, with reigning world champ Mark Cavendish, Norway's two-time stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen, and a strong cast of support riders who have been assembled with the sole aim of becoming Britain's first team to win cycling's greatest race.

Samuel Sanchez

Samuel Sanchez
2012 Team: Euskaltel-Euskadi Age: 33
2011 Tour Result: 6th Best Tour Result: 3rd (2010)
Notes: Sanchez, who won the 2008 Gold Medal for the Men's Road Race at the Beijing Olympics, won the polka dot jersey as the top climber in the 2011 Tour. He's struggled in time trials before, and there are two this year, but Sanchez does have the entire all-spanish team of Euskaltel-Euskadi to try to lead him to the top of the podium.

Robert Gesink

Robert Gesink
2012 Team: Rabobank Age: 25
2011 Tour Result: 32nd Best Tour Result: 6th (2010)
Notes: Gesink, who finished second to Andy Schleck in the race for the white jersey as the best young rider during the Tour in 2010, crashed early in the race in 2011 and couldn't recover fully. He's won two major races, last year's Tour of Oman and this year's Tour of California. He also placed fourth in June's Tour de Suisse thanks to a gutsy ride in the Stage 7 time trial, showing his work in that discipline is paying dividends.

Jurgen Van den Broeck

Jurgen Van den Broeck
2012 Team: Lotto Belisol Age: 29
2011 Tour Result: DNF Best Tour Result: 5th (2010)
Notes: Van den Broeck crashed out in the first week of last year's Tour, but he's prepared well for this year's Tour with a fifth at the Criterium du Dauphine, behind Tour favorites Wiggins and Evans.

Tony Martin

Tony Martin
2012 Team: OmegaPharma-Quick Step Age: 27
2011 Tour Result: 44th Best Tour Result: 36th (2009)
Notes: The reigning world time trial champion will look to redeem himself after last year's woeful ride up Luz-Ardiden in the Pyrenees on Stage 12 cost him any chance of contending for the overall classification. On the plus side, he did trounce of Evans, Alberto Contador and four-time world champ Fabian Cancellara in last year's time trial, which could make the man to watch in the prologue and two long time trials.


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