After the 2009 Tour de France presentation on Thursday in Paris' Palais des Congrès, Silence-Lotto manager Marc Sergeant was hopeful that his Grand Tour leader Cadel Evans was going to be in contention to fight for the top podium spot in July next year.
Sergeant's first impression of the mountainous parcours made him tip Astana's Alberto Contador for the overall honours. "Alberto Contador is really strong and he will be the favourite," said Sergeant. "But I still believe that he can be beaten. I understood from Cadel Evans that he saw a variety of positive things in the parcours."
Evans, who finished runner-up twice in the event, agreed that the route seemed tailor-made for Astana's climbers, but knew from experience that anything could happen, especially with the last of three mountaintop finishes taking place on the penultimate day.
"It's really going to draw out the general classification riders pretty early on so I'm going to have to be very attentive throughout the race," he told Cyclingnews. "Just like this year, though, it could come down to the wire on Ventoux."
His team manager Sergeant's analysis was similar. "With that long time trial [in Monaco-ed.] the favourites will have to show themselves early," he continued. "That goes also for the team time trial," for which the Silence-Lotto manager is well-prepared. "We made good moves taking on Thomas Dekker and Sebastian Lang."
Concerning that final, all-decisive stage up the Mont Ventoux, Sergeant had "mixed feeling. I think the difference [in general classification - ed.] will be made by then. Nevertheless, anyone can still lose the Tour that day, as you can lose several minutes on the Ventoux."