Grabsch the realist
Former world time trial champion Bert Grabsch may have his work cut out for him over the next three weeks as he fights on a number of fronts for Omega Pharma-QuickStep. Along with defending the positions of both Tony Martin and Levi Leipheimer on the flats, the German will be expected to set pace on the front of the peloton for countless kilometres through the French countryside. But that hasn't stopped him from pinpointing his own aim for the race, notably the final time trial of the race from Bonneval to Chartres.
"I know the first major TT. We rode it a few weeks ago and there are some long flat parts for me but the last one is my favourite and that's my personal goal in the Tour. It's 50km, it's flat and there should be a lot of wind." DB
Wiggins watches VDB
Putting someone in the spotlight is almost as important as putting them on the front in a headwind. Bradley Wiggins: "I think [Jurgen] Van den Broeck is in a similar position to me. Obviously he crashed last year when he was looking to improve on 2010. He looked really good in the Dauphiné. The thing I've noticed about him more this year is that he's really improved his time trialling, so I think he's in a good position to do well. I don't think the podium is out of the question." PC
Millar on the mend
Despite missing out on the Tour de France teams' presentation on Thursday due to illness, Garmin-Sharp's David Millar is still set to compete in the race.
"I'm feeling much better," he said. "The team has taken really good care of me and at this point, I'm optimistic that I'll be fully recovered by tomorrow."
"David has been ill with a stomach bug," the team said through a press release. "Today he is feeling better but as a precaution he is in the hotel, where he is continuing to recover. His health is our priority and as of now, we are optimistic that he will be healthy by Saturday." DB
Rohan Dennis to Sky?
We know teams can't talk about transfers or signings until August, although they seem to manage it when it suits them - and that the rider in question isn't even at the Tour but word from Liège is that Rohan Dennis has apparently signed with Team Sky for 2013. One story we can confirm: he hasn't signed for GreenEdge. DB
Vinokourov in Virenque's footsteps?
Astana captain Alexandre Vinokourov is as laid back as ever at the start of the Tour de France in Liège. To him, "it's already a victory to even be here." But of course the Kazakh rider also has stage-winning objectives, and could even reach for the polka-dot jersey of best climber.
"Liège is a particular town as I've already won Liège-Bastogne-Liège twice," he told L'Equipe. "So if my legs spin well... But I'm not saying I'll win on Sunday [on stage 1].
"I also think of showing good performances in the mountains later on. I think my form will be good in about ten days time, so we'll see. Perhaps I'll do something like Richard Virenque did in his time, attacking from very far away and taking the climber's jersey... We'll see!" added Vinokourov with a revealing smile. HK