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Tour de France 2006



Tom Boonen

Tom Boonen
DOB: 15/10/1980
Nationality: Belgian
Team: Quickstep
Tour best: Two stage wins (2005)

When it comes to straight-line speed, there is no better sprinter in the field. He is lean, lightning quick and seemingly fearless. Should he hit top form, as he regularly does, and avoid injury the 26-year-old Belgian's rivals will undoubtedly be left trailing in his wake.

Cadel Evans

Cadel Evans
DOB: 14/2/1977
Nationality: Australian
Team: Davitamon-Lotto
Tour best: 8th (2005)

Evans continually defied his critics by finishing among the leaders on some of the toughest ascents. Few people had listened to him when he promised he could match the world's top riders - take note former employers T-Mobile - but he did and will only grow from that in 2006.

Thor Hushovd

Thor Hushovd
DOB: 18/1/1978
Nationality: Norwegian
Team: Credit Agricole
Tour best: Green jersey winner (2005)

Named after the Norse god of thunder, he made his mark in style last year by winning the green jersey - the prize for the race's leading sprinter. While he arguably lacked the burst of the Boonens and McEwens of the peloton, his consistency proved the key.

Floyd Landis

Floyd Landis
DOB: 14/10/1975
Nationality: American
Team: Phonak
Tour best: 9th (2005)

The former team-mate of Lance Armstrong had his first stab last year at the Tour as a team leader. It proved a mixed bag but he still sneaked into the top 10 and looks an even better rider 12 months on.

Robbie McEwen

Robbie McEwen
DOB: 24/6/1972
Nationality: Australian
Team: Davitamon-Lotto
Tour best: Green jersey winner (2002-4)

He may not have managed a fourth successive green jersey but three stage wins in last year's race showed he is still among the best when it comes to pinning your ears back and going for the line. Expect him to be in the thick of it again.

David Millar

David Millar
DOB: 4/1/1977
Nationality: British
Team: Saunier Duval-Prodir
Tour best: -

There will be a lot of media and public interest in Millar, who makes his return to professional cycling on day one of the race following a two-year ban for doping. Those close to him say he is in top form and fitter than ever. It remains to be seen whether he has the game to push it in the overall standings come the Paris finale.

Yaroslav Popovych

Yaroslav Popovych
DOB: 4/1/1980
Nationality: Ukrainian
Team: Discovery Channel
Tour best: 12th (2005)

The 26-year-old still remains a bit of an unknown quantity in global cycling circles, although Lance Armstrong believes he has the all-round game to succeed him as Tour champion. His 12th place last year, where he won the white jersey for the best young rider in the field, suggests the Texan might be right.

Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins
DOB: 28/4/1980
Nationality: British
Team: Cofidis
Tour best: n/a (debut this year)

Wiggins has made it clear the Tour prologue is his sole goal of the season. There is massive expection from his team, who signed him for that sole aim in 2005, and the British public, who will be building up his day one duel with David Millar.



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