2012 Tour De France: Let the Race for Third Place Begin

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2012

METZ, FRANCE - JULY 06:  Radioshack-Nissan and BMC Racing work at the front of the peloton during stage six of the 2012 Tour de France from Epernay to Metz on July 6, 2012 in Metz, France.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

After Saturday's Stage 7 at the 2012 Tour de France, one thing was made clear: Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins are in a class of their own and will finish in the top two positions.

One thing is not clear: Who else will stand on the podium in Paris in two weeks with Evans and Wiggins?

The other riders have been remaindered to third place because of the damage done by Wiggins and Team Sky on the slopes of the La Planche des Belles Filles.

There are a few contenders vying for third, including the winner of Stage 7, Chris Froome.

Froome accelerated his way past both Evans and Wiggins on his way to the stage win on Saturday, but his supporting position for Wiggins may get in the way of finishing high in the overall classification.

One man who is fully capable of staying close to the two favorites is Vincenzo Nibali, who sits in third place right now only 16 seconds behind Wiggins for the yellow jersey.

Nibali has made the Tour de France his main target this season, and he showed on Saturday that he can keep up with the favorites.

Also in the hunt is Denis Menchov, who sits in fifth place, 54 seconds behind Wiggins.

Menchov, like Nibali, is a former grand tour winner. He also demonstrated on Saturday that he can keep up with the two leaders, for the most part.

There are also some riders who will fly under the radar for the whole tour like Rein Taaramae, who currently sits in fourth place in the overall.

Other predicted podium finishers like Frank Schleck, Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Alejandro Valverde and Andreas Kloden, are all over three minutes back in the overall already. They will all have to have better days than Saturday to challenge for the final spot on the podium.

One thing is for sure about this fight for third place: It will change hands many times, and the riders vying for the position will surely be on the attack in the Alps and Pyrenees in the next two weeks.