4 days to the start and the defending champ won't be there. I guess that is a good warm up for the TDF. Either way a look at the start list is interesting. Pro-Tour teams are here but many seem doomed. Of the 22 teams starting a considerable number have no GC hope. I am naming Quickstep, AG2R, Bouygues Telecom, Caisse D'Espargne, Cofidis, Credit Agricole, Euksatel, FDJ, Gerlosteiner, Milram, and Tinkoff as having no hope for being in contention for GC. That is half the field hunting for a stage win or a day in pink which is tough considering the remaining 11 teams.
CSC seem most likely to win the opening TT and get the jersey first. Rabobank and CERAMICA PANARIA should battle for the mountains jersey. Liquigas, Disco, Astana, Lampre, and Saunier Duval will be the heavy hitters for the overall GC. DiLuca vs Popovych vs Salvodelli vs Cunego vs Simoni. All have obvious weak spots and with a more open race a lot of unforeseen wild cards could come into play. Bettini needs to overcome the curse of the WC jersey. Haedo vs Pettachi vs Hushovd vs Dean vs McEwen should animate the sprinters stages. Tinkoff have had some success with Brutt and Ignatiev. Since they are a wildcard, I am imagining they will be active.
I will hold off a few more days on my overall picks, but am really looking forward to this race. First climbing stage comes early after the 1st rest day, but even if it opens gaps shouldn't be decisive. Mt Zoncolan on stage 17 should be epic. ITT is the 2nd to last day and could be critical especially if someone like Cunego or Simoni hold the jersey at this point.