Tour de France 2013: Early Storylines Emerging from First 4 Stages

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Tour de France 2013: Early Storylines Emerging from First 4 Stages
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Through four stages of the 2013 Tour de France, there's been no shortage of action, and the intrigue is already starting to mount for cycling's premier annual event. 

With four stages in the books, Simon Gerrans of Orica-GreenEdge has emerged as the race's early leader. The 33-year-old Aussie puncheur earned his way to the top of the overall individual standings with an impressive win in Stage 3 and kept things going when his team took the win in the Stage 4 time trial. 

As impressive as Gerrans' early performance has been, there's still plenty of time for the standings to withstand notable shakeups as the riders navigate the brutal 21-stage test of endurance and will. 

Here are the early storylines to watch with just four stages in the books. 

 

Is Orica-GreenEdge Here to Stay?

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Orica-GreenEdge is a relatively new team in the cycling scene, but they've made their presence known from the outset on the biggest stage. 

Gerrans' Stage 3 victory was the team's first Tour de France stage victory since forming in 2011. As team captain Stuart O'Grady expressed, it was a historic moment for the Australian-based team. 

Not only is Simon Gerrans the current overall leader, but his teammates Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini round out the top three right now. With a total time of 25'56" according to LeTour.com, the newcomers are the top team in the race right now, holding a lead over favorites like Sky Procycling and Team Saxo-Tinkoff. 

With established teams just behind them, the question remains: Can Orica-GreenEdge keep this up, or will they fall behind as the race becomes more difficult?

 

Will Christopher Froome Emerge as the Race Leader Soon?

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Taking over as the lead rider for Sky Procycling this year, Christopher Froome was the early odds-on favorite to emerge with the yellow jersey come July 21. 

Early on in the race, it appears he's very much in the mix to do just that. 

Through three stages the 28-year-old is right in the mix and just three seconds behind leader Simon Gerrands in the overall classification. Froome has yet to win a stage, but he only won stage when he was the runner-up in the race last season, so that's not really a concern. 

Overall, his team is only three minutes behind Orica-GreenEdge, so he should have the talent around him to make good on his favored status. The question is when he will take the lead.

 

Will Joaquim Rodriguez Rebound from Middling Start?

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Team Katusha lead rider Joaquim Rodriguez was expected to be one of the serious contenders in this year's Tour, but he has failed to live up to those expectations so far. 

A middling performance in Stage 4 has him in just 34th place in the overall classification, 28 seconds behind current leader Gerrans

There are plenty of mountain stages in which the 34-year-old climber can gain time and get back in on the action, but he'll have to improve on his time quickly if he wants to still have a shot when those opportunities come. 

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