With all the sub-classifications done, we now look at the main classification, the overall, the battle for the maillot jaune.
Best Result: 1st (2013, 2015, 2016)
Odds: $2.20w/$1.25p (win/place)
Froome is going for his 4th title in 4 years and is a great chance of doing it. He has a strong team at his side. Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Michal Kwiatkowski, Mikel Landa, Mikel Nieve, Luke Rowe, Geraint Thomas.
You look at your team and you go, “wow”, that’s stacked. That’s Team Sky for you. With so many good climbers who can hang in there, Froome is in a great position to win. He has the strongest team in the race by far.
In 2017, Froome hasn’t looked like his best, but he doesn’t need to. 13th in Catlunya, 18th in Romandie, and 4th in the Dauphine doesn’t inspire confidence from the outside, but it doesn’t need to. Basing your season around July, you need to peak in July, not before. So his results this year doesn’t phase me.
Best Result: 5th (2016)
Porte this season has been flying. 1st Tour Down Under, 11th Paris-Nice, 1st Romandie and 2nd in the Dauphine is an indication on how well the Tasmanian is riding this year. He’s coming into a Grand Tour for the first time as one of the top 2 favourites.
He doesn’t have a strong team by his side with Danilo Wyss, Greg Van Avermaet, Michal Schar, Nicolas Roche, Amael Moinard, Stefan Kung, Alessandro De Marchi and Damiano Caruso.
A lot of pressure is going to be on Nicolas Roche and Damiano Caruso who need to stick with Porte for as long as possible on the climbs. He was found isolated in the Dauphine and if found isolated again, he’s going to struggle against the other contenders who do have strong teams.
When Cadel Evans won the Tour de France, he didn’t have a relatively strong team, and he fought hard on his own a lot, that’s what Porte may need to do. No doubt Cadel will be helping Porte during the next 3 weeks off the bike and his experience could be enough to help Porte get over the line.
Best Result: 2nd (2013, 2015)
Quintana is aiming to be the 7th rider in history to do the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France double. With the route being a bit tamer than previous years, he has a good shot to do it, but history says he won’t.
His form this year has been phenomenal, however. 1st in Valencia, Tirreno-Adriatico, and Giro d’Italia shows how well he has ridden. But, has he spent all his energy too early? Does he have anything left in the tank to peak again to win this race for the first time?
One thing in his favour is his team. Like Sky, it is stacked with quality riders who can help him in the mountains. Andrey Amador, Carlos Betancur, Imanol Erviti, Jesus Herada, Alejandro Valverde, Jasha Sutterlin, Jonathan Castroviejo, Daniele Bennati.
There is one rider that is going to be the key. You guessed it. Alejandro Valverde. Valverde has the ability to ride into the top 10 with Quintana, hell, even the top 5. He was 8th in 2013 and more recently in 2015, he was 3rd. He needs to repeat his 2015 performance and give Movistar a 2 pronged attack.
This is where we talk about Valverde as a contender. If they can have a 2 pronged attack, Valverde is a legitimate chance to win his 2nd grand tour, after his success in the 2009 Vuelta. He’s also been riding well this year and he doesn’t have the Giro in his legs, which might count against Quintana. So don’t rule out Valverde not only beating Quintana, but potentially winning the race overall. His odds are $26/$5.
Team: Trek Segafredo
Best Performance: 1st (2007, 2009)
In what could potentially be his final season in the pro peloton, Contador is aiming to win the race for a 3rd time, if you don’t include the 2010 Tour which he was stripped of. He has a reasonably strong team around him. Koen de Kort, John Degenkolb, Fabio Felline, Michael Gogl, Markel Irizar, Bauke Mollema, Jarlinson Pantano and Haimar Zubeldia.
The pressure is mainly going to be on Mollema and Pantano. Zubeldia and Irizar will do their jobs, but Mollema and Pantano need to be with Contador for as long as possible if he is to contend for the win. He’s had bad luck in recent years in the Tour, but he has the experience and you cannot write him off, especially if you look at his results.
2nd Ruta del Sol, 2nd Paris-Nice, 2nd Catalunya, 2nd Basque Country and 11th in the Dauphine. That’s good riding for a 34 year old. He’s been peaking for this race and he’s going in with some of the best form he’s had for a while.
You cannot write off a champion like Contador.
Best Performance: 13th (2016)
Aru has only ridden this race once for a 13th place. He has, however, won a Grand Tour before – the Veulta back in 2015 and he’s podiumed his home tour, the Giro d’Italia twice, so he knows how to win Grand Tours.
He has a strong team around him with Dario Cataldo, Jakob Fuglsang, Andriy Grivko, Dmitriy Gruzdev, Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev, Alexey Lutsenko, Michael Valgren and Andrey Zeits.
Cataldo and Fuglsang are going to be of vital importance for Aru. Like Movistar with Valverde and Quintana, Astana have two riders capable of finishing top 10 with Aru and Fuglsang, so they do have a good card up their sleeves.
Aru has been quietly building up for this race, so he hasn’t got many good results, but his 5th in the Dauphine shows that he is near his peak. He has a good chance, not only to podium, but to win this race.
We’ll now look at Fuglsang. After winning the Dauphine, Fuglsang is on a high. He was 7th in 2013 and he has a good chance to better that result. Both riders can finish high in the top 10 and they most likely will.
Best Performance: 2nd (2016)
Bardet is France’s best hope for the win this year. The Frenchman has a solid team around him, one that I rate 2nd besti in the race behind Team Sky. Jan Bakelants, Axel Domont, Mathias Frank, Ben Gastauer, Cyril Gautier, Pierre Latour, Oliver Naesen, Alexis Vuillermoz.
From that list, Frank and Latour have the potential to stay with Bardet for a long time in the mountains – and they are going to have to. With that said, Bardet isn’t afraid to attack and thus has the ability to work alone.
6th in the Dauphine shows that he’s close to his best, but has a bit to go. He’s also had a couple of top 10 performances this year so he is slowly and quietly going about his business. Providing he can peak for this race, he has a good shot to win. Another podium definitely isn’t out of the equation.
Best Performance: 27th (2016)
We are now getting down to the riders that won’t win, but have a good chance of a high result. Majka is one of them. He doesn’t have the strongest team around him with Peter Sagan, Maciej Bodnar, Emanuel Buchmann, Marcus Burghardt, Jay McCarthy, Pawel Poljanski, Juraj Sagan, Rudiger Selig.
The pressure will be on Buchmann, who can do a good race himself. He was 18th last year which shows his pedigree and he’s Germany’s next Grand Tour contender. Buchmann will be Majka’s last man and Majka may not need him as he’s a quality rider in great form with his 2nd place in the Tour of California and 1st in the Tour of Slovenia.
Team: Quick-Step Floors
Best Performance: 9th (2016)
Martin’s best performance in a Grand Tour is 7th which he achieved in the 2014 Vuelta. Looking at this years route, it does suit Dan Martin. The finishing climbs aren’t that long and he is a great descender. He doesn’t have a team that is supporting him, and the absence of Julien Alaphillipe will hurt him, but he does have the ability to finish high in the General Classification.
Martin has been consistent all season with a 5th place in Valencia, 6th in Algarve, 3rd Paris-Nice, 6th in Catalunya and most recently 3rd in the Dauphine, which shows his true form. With that said, they are all one week races, can he finish as high as 3rd or above over 3 weeks? With only 2 top 10 finishes in grand tours, history says it will be tough, but the course does suit him.
Team: UAE Team Emirates
Best Performance: 8th (2016)
Meintjes 8th place last year was his best result in grand tours previously beating his 10th place in the 2015 Vuelta. His team consists of; Darwin Atapuma, Matteo Bono, Kristijan Durasek, Vegard Stake Laengen, Marco Marcato, Manuele Mori, Ben Swift and Diego Ulissi.
Atapuma will be the last rider that can stay with him. He’ll also have help from Kristijan Durasek and maybe Diego Ulissi, so it’s going to be tough, but the South African is in great form finishing 8th in the Dauphine. He can easily challenge for a podium. I’m expecting big things from him this race. He’s slowly building into a contender. Not there yet, but expect a high placing.
Best Performance: 41st (2014)
You are probably asking yourself why Izagirre is mentioned as someone that can challenge for the podium considering he hasn’t had a good overall result in a Grand Tour ever. Well, there’s a reason for it. Firstly, he hasn’t had a good result because he’s been working for Valverde and Quintana the last few years. Secondly, he’s listed because he’s leading for the first time and he’s had great results during the year. Not only that, he has Grand Tour stage victories up his sleeve, securing his first Tour de France stage win last year.
Leading the following races he was 7th in Paris-Nice, 3rd in the Basque country, 5th in Romandie and 6th in the Dauphine. These are good results for him. Not only has he posted good results this year but he can time trial, which gives him an edge over many of the above riders, plus he can descend insanely well, and with 4 stages where you need to descend to the finish, he can make time up there.
Like many others, his team is a downfall, but not a disaster. Yukiya Arashiro, Grega Bole, Borut Bozic, Janez Brajkovic, Ondrej Cink, Sonny Colbrelli, Tsgabu Grmay, Javier Moreno. He will only have help from Brajkovic, Cink, Grmay and Moreno. Which is a bit more than some of the other teams.
Team: Orica Scott
Best Performance: 89th (2015)
Orica-Scott have two riders in Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves that can challenge for a high result overall. Simon Yates is their man this tour as they are targeting the white jersey. Chaves has had an interrupted season so their best bet is to have him get form for a tilt at the Vuelta which starts 4 weeks after the Tour.
Yates is looking to emulate what his brother did last year, which was a 4th place finish and the white jersey. He can do it too. There’s a good chance Yates can challenge for the podium. He has two quality climbers in Kreuziger and Chaves that can help him. Not to mention Damien Howson, who is fast becoming one of the great climbing domestiques in the world. One of the underrated ones, at least.
The rest of the team consists of Michael Albasini, Luke Durbridge, Matthew Hayman, Daryl Impey and Jens Keukeleire.
Other riders not mentioned but are aiming for high GC results are; Warren Barguil (Sunweb), Daniel Navarro (Cofidis), George Bennett (Lotto NL Jumbo), Andrew Talansky and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale) and Eduardo Sepulveda (Fortuneo-Vital Concept).
This is tough. There’s so many good riders in this race, but not all can go well. There will be crashes, there will be illness, there will be chaos. With the weather forecast, this could be a similar race to 2014 and I would love to tip it that way, but then it would be a lottery to work out which riders would make it to the end. So I’ll play it safe and go with the following.
- Chris Froome
- Alejandro Valverde
- Richie Porte
- Ion Izagirre
- Romain Bardet
- Simon Yates
- Louis Meintjes
- Fabio Aru
- Rafal Majka
- Eduardo Sepulveda
I have a feeling that Quintana’s going to falter with the Giro in his legs. I have big hopes for Sepulveda. This route does suit him and he will be the surprise rider this race.