By Amy Moritz
News Sports Reporter
If you know the names of the early favorites for the 103rd edition of the Tour de France, odds are you spend each July listening to the dry humor of NBCSN commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen.
American cycling has a dearth of contenders for the grandest of the grand tours. In some ways, the sport is looking for its next iconic rider, the hero who can expunge the sins of Lance Armstrong and to a lesser degree Floyd Landis. The best hope for the Americans at the Tour de France lies with 27-year old Tejay Van Garderen. He abandoned last year’s race with illness and enters 2016 in strong contention for a Top 10 finish.
The best hope for a breath of fresh air lies with Taylor Phinney, but the 25-year-old is just returning from a career-threatening crash in 2014. Phinney will skip the Tour in favor of Rio, which may actually help the sport’s cause since U.S. audiences are more tuned-in to the Olympics that the Tour de France.
American cycling needs a hero, one with big wins and a big personality. That, however, is proving to be a difficult combination to find.