Americans for the 2014 Tour de France

Teams began stepping up the pace of confirming their Tour de France rosters last week, with the remainder making last minute decisions this week. This year, six teams are fielding a racer (or racers) from the US, these are BMC, Cannondale, Garmin-Sharp, Lampre-Merida, Sky, and Trek Factory Racing.

Leading off is Tejay VanGarderen, who will be team leader at BMC this year. Among VanGarderen's lieutenants will be Peter Stetina, riding in his first Tour. Van Garderen will be looking to build upon the successes he gathered at his first two Tours de France in 2011 and 2012, where he wore the King of the Mountains Jersey and Best Young Riders Jersey respectively. 

At Trek Factory Racing, Matthew Busche will be starting his first Tour, in support of presumed team leader, Frank Schleck. Many are saying that this years Tour roster is Treks weakest ever. With the likes of Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, and Danny van Poppel, that assessment might be a little questionable. If the Schlecks prove unable to rise to the G.C. challenge, it may open opportunities for the other riders, including Busche to go for stage wins.

Over at Cannondale, Edward King will be given a second chance at the Tour. You may remember last year he was disqualified at the end of Stage Four, after a highly controversial decision when he finished seven seconds adrift of the time cut due to a separated shoulder injury sustained early in the days race.

Garmin-Sharp will be bringing three American riders, Andrew Talansky at the helm, and Ben King and Alex Howes in support. For both King and Howes, this will be their inaugural Tour de France. The Garmin team is built to throw its full support behind Talansky, they are even leaving sprinter Tyler Farrar off the Tour roster, not to mention the formerly penciled in David Millar, who expected to toe the start in his home country of England when the Tour kicks off on Saturday.

Barring a last minute inclusion of Jens Voigt (well, since writing this the mighty Jens has apparently been added to the Trek lineup), Chris Horner may very well turn out to be the peloton's elder statesman at this year's Grande Depart. Horner, of course, won the Vuelta a Espana last year, but will be riding in support of team leader Rui Costa at the Tour. Clearly Lampre is putting faith in Horner, that he has fully recovered from a serious hit and run training crash earlier in April in which he suffered a punctured lung and four broken ribs. Costa must be counted amongst the favorites, though overshadowed thus far by what most people see as a two rider competition between Alberto Contador and Chris Froome, and a healthy Horner could provide invaluable support.

Oops, it seems that when i originally posted this i forgot about one rider. Thanks to Business Insider, of all places (and Peloton Magazine on Facebook), i can fix the omission. Danny Pate has raced as a professional since the 2000 season, and this year will be counted on as an integral part of Team Sky and Chris Froome's defense of the Yellow Jersey. This will be his fourth Tour de France, having previously competed in 2008, 2009 and 2011.

The one hundred and first edition of the Tour is shaped up to be a tight competition between the favorites and the dark horse challengers. What ever way it goes i am expecting an exciting three weeks of racing.