Robbie McEwen says that Cadel Evans, Bradley Wiggins and Alberto Contador are the top favourites for the 2012 Tour de France, with Tony Martin and Levi Leipheimer rounding out the top five. Andy and Fränk Schleck have no chance with the few mountaintop finishes and many time trial kilometres, the Australian said.
"I would say the main contenders when you look at the course - those two long time trials - are Cadel, Wiggo and Contador,” he told the AAP news agency.
"You never know, maybe a guy like (Germany's) Tony Martin also and I wouldn't completely discount (American) Levi Leipheimer - they're my five guys.
"The Schlecks are really at a disadvantage with their lack of time trialling ability. That makes it very, very difficult for them next year."
McEwen picked his countryman and former teammate Evans to take the title again. Evans was the strongest rider this year in the race, showing his strength at both the Galibier mountaintop finish and the Grenoble time trial.
Evans was also lucky that nothing serious went wrong, McEwen pointed out. “You maybe don't need to have a lot of good luck, but you just have got to not have any bad luck," McEwen said.
McEwen, 39, will ride for the newly formed GreenEdge team in the coming season, but only for the early part of the year. He will then hang his bike on the wall and serve as a scout for the team, helping out at the Tour.
"If I can give them some insight into the course, the wind direction, the best side of the road to sprint on and they win by a millimetre, then that sort of advice could have played an important role," he said.