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Building the atmosphere in Porto Vecchio


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The crowds are enjoying the treats of the 'Corsican Village' near the harbour in Porto Vecchio, journalists are attending the press conferences and filing stories, riders are going through the last-minute preparations, and they all come together this evening for the presentation of the teams by the edge of the bay. Two days before the start of the race, the Tour has well and truly arrived in Corsica.

There are changes taking place in Porto Vecchio. Since Tuesday morning the town on the South-West of Corsica has played host to the flagship of Corsica Ferries, the imposing Mega Smeralda that is moored in the harbour. The race entourage is helping to build the vibe in town and elsewhere on the island. After the official opening the media centre yesterday, came the arrival of the riders who are now all in place and ready for the team presentation later today in the City of Salt.
Everywhere you look in Porto Vecchio are reminders that the Tour de France is in town. The race is yet to start but the anticipation is high with speculation and predictions a regular part of conversations two days before stage one.
The first press conferences – with Saxo-Tinkoff, Belkin, RadioShack-Leopard, Omega Pharma-Quickstep, and Sky Procycling – were conducted with five taking place on the ferry, and the one for Alberto Contador and his team-mates held at his team hotel a short ride away from the Mega Smeralda.
“If I do not think I can beat Froome,” said Contador, in the first press conference of the 2013 Tour, “I would have no reason to be here. Furthermore, there will be many others that he and I, and I'm sure the race will be more lively than last year.”
With a far more coy approach, Andy Schleck opted to assess the favourites. “For now, I can only say that I believe in myself, and that's the most important thing,” said the winner of the 2010 Tour. “We will see where I stand when we played the first mountain stages. But I consider myself to be an outsider.”
Aboard the Mega Smeralda, conversations regularly revolved around the question of dominance Sky. For the outset, the superiority was clear… even if it was in the British team's ability to fill the conference room with more journalists than the other squads. Chris Froome will start his third Tour as the favourite but without a great deal of anxiety. “It's obviously very different from anything I have experienced,” he said about the atmosphere two days out from stage one. “There is a lot of attention... but I built my season to find myself repeatedly in the position of leader.”
Froome said he was confident in his ability and the strength of his team-mates but noted that there were seven or eight potential winners. But his good friend, room-mate and chief lieutenant, Richie Porte, said that he believed the force of Sky was only improving. “Compared to last year, I think we will be a little stronger in the mountains… other areas, the group is quite similar.”

The news in pictures


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Jersey wearers after the stage 21

Classifications after the stage 21


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These five riders have won sprint stages of the 100th Tour de France. Of these five, who do you think will win in Paris?

  • Marcel Kittel14.93%
  • Simon Gerrans1.08%
  • Mark Cavendish54.21%
  • André Greipel5.5%
  • Peter Sagan24.28%
14123 votes

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