BREST, France (AP) Here's what victory will look like for Tour de France organizers: The riders reach the finish line in three weeks with no doping scandals.
Cycling's most prestigious race begins today, trying to shake its history of drugs and cheating. The turmoil has left this year's race without many of the sport's biggest names. The loss of glamour, however, gives a new crop of riders a chance to step forward. Cadel Evans, Alejandro Valverde, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov and Damiano Cunego are among the most likely to prevail in the 2,175-mile trek.
"I'd rate myself as a pretty good chance to win," said Evans, who has improved from eighth place in 2005 to fourth the next year and runner-up in 2007. One sign of potential stardom? He now has the same bodyguard Lance Armstrong once did.
The race begins with a 123-mile flat ride through Brittany. For the first time since 1967, the Tour will begin without an opening-day prologue.