Tour de France 2011: Meet the Next Lance Armstrong

Cynthia Dermody
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Tejay Van Garderen

Just when you think there's no reason to watch the Tour de France this year now that American star Lance Armstrong, the only name most of us ever really knew from the sport, retired, there's a new bicyclist in town and everyone should know his name. He's the potential new replacement in our hearts -- and maybe someday, even that yellow leader shirt: Tejay van Garderen.

What, that name doesn't sound American at all! Van Garderen is actually of Dutch descent, but he was born and raised here, and is a Montana boy through and through. That's why he's so good at climbing those hills that make you feel like your quads are going to burn off, and one of the many reasons lots of people are hanging high hopes on him and his future.

Time to get the old guys like Armstrong and a few others out, and make way for a new crop of young, exciting bicycle stars.

In fact, the two of the oldest cyclists in the race are also Americans; Chris Horner is 40 and Levi Leipheimer is will be 38 in October.

At 22, van Garderen is the among the youngest to compete this year, his first ever Tour (22 year old Anthony Delaplace is technically the youngest going by birth month). So the chances of his winning the whole shebang aren't too likely, but he could do well in individual stages and even win the coveted white jersey for best young rider. If his Twitter comments are any indication, he should be pretty entertaining to watch -- if you call watching someone riding a bike around entertaining, that is.

His last Tweet three hours ago:

Van Garderen tweet

Cav of course being fellow Team HTC-Highroad cyclist Mark Cavendish, the British guy who's know to get super emotional about winning. I love how van Garderen seems to be going into the race with the right attitude, making some jokes, having fun. I trust all that changed the minute he hit the course, and if you turn on your TV now you just might catch a glimpse of him whizzing past you in his white, yellow and green jersey. The race is on!

Who's your favorite to win the Tour de France?

Image via Doug Pensiger/Getty

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