What are the chances of an Astana podium clean sweep at the Tour de France this year?
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

As I look into my crystal ball, and at today's good news, plus announced selections for the great race, I can see such a scenario unfolding.

Check out this squad and tell me it doesn't have the potential to dominate the podium.

Certainties are Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador joined by Andreas Kloden, Levi Leipheimer, Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia.

Soon to be joined by a trio of domestiques drawn from a highly talented group of riders - Jani Brajkovic, Chris Horner, Benjamin Noval, Dmitriy Muravyev, Sergio Paulinho, Gregory Rast and Tomas Vaitkus.

Lance Armstrong himself seems to agree, saying this earlier in January.

"We have five riders that have been in the top five in the tour,
theoretically any of them could be very close (to winning). And I think
more realistically than theoretically, you could perhaps put three guys
on the podium if you did it right. (It would) be exciting for us. Not
exciting for the race. But exciting for us."

Picture this: the Spanish national anthem is being played on the Champs Elysees for the third year in a row.

It's late afternoon on July 26 - the sun is shining and the international crowds line the famous boulevard to honour Alberto Contador as the Tour's new champion.

Standing alongside to his immediate right is Lance Armstrong - to his left stands Levi Leipheimer - both fill the minor placings wearing the aqua and yellow colours of Astana.

Such a scene might seem unrealistic to some, but the more I toss up the idea, the more I convince myself it could happen.

Contador is still rated the world's best pro-cyclist with bookmakers and critics alike.

He'll start the Tour an overwhelming short-priced favourite, currently offering just $1.80 for overall victory by bookies.

Now, that's a skinny price not even the favourite in a Melbourne Cup field of 24 starters enjoys these days.

Who says the 2009 Tour is going to be an open race with odds like that?

By rights Contador
should receive full support from Armstrong, but I feel the jury is
still out to whether the Tour's seven-time winner can bring himself to
guiding his Spanish teammate to another victory.

We could see a situation where US-allegiances come into play - Armstrong leans on Leipheimer and fellow American Chris Horner in a bid to clinch overall victory ahead of Contador.

Would Astana's team director Johan Bruyneel allow such a scenario to eventuate? You be the judge.

Given the events that unfolded in the Dauphine, Contrador may be forced to draw on the support of his compatriots from other teams such as Caisse d'Erpagne, for example, in a bid to stay at the head of the Tour on the final day.

Now, wouldn't that be bizarre? Either way, there's no question Astana will definitely be the team to beat.