Article submitted by twitter user: @cyclingbolar
Best TDF Performance: Winner 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
Other Grand Tour Performance: Giro D’Italia Winner 2018, Vuelta a Espana Winner (2017)
Team: Chris Froome (GB), Egan Bernal (COL), Jonathan Castroviejo (SPA), Michal Kwiatkowski (POL), Gianni Moscon (ITA), Luke Rowe (GB), Woet Poels (NED), Geraint Thomas (GB)
The big favourite is Chris Froome. He won the Giro d’Italia back in May and is going for his third consecutive Grand Tour victory. History shows, however, that doing the Giro/Tour double is hard. It hasn’t been done since Marco Pantani in 1998.
He has a strong team around him and with the first 9 days not featuring big climbs, he can use it to roll the legs over and get in a position to strike later in the race.
If he falters then Geraint Thomas will take over leadership. Sky will be hoping both Froome and Thomas are high in GC after stage 9 and if they are, they are going to be in a good position to win this.
Best TDF Performance: 5th (2016)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 7th (2010 Giro d’Italia)
Team: Patrick Bevin (NZ), Damiano Caruso (ITA). Simon Gerrans (AUS), Stefan Küng (SUI), Richie Porte (AUS), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA)
Richie Porte has shown he can ride well in Grand Tours, but as a leader, hasn’t fully shown he can win. He crashed out last year when leading and it’s impossible to tell if he would have won the race or not. He has a strong team built around him for the Team Time Trial and could almost be best placed of the GC riders there. He also has a strong squad for stage 9 and if he can get through stage 9 unscathed, he will find himself in pole position.
He has had a strong season starting with 2nd in the Tour Down Under, followed by 3rd in the Tour de Romandie and then winning the Tour de Suisse last month.
All of Australia will be behind Richie and whilst I want him to do well and win this race, stage nine worries me. I don’t think this is the year for him. I do hope I am wrong.
Team: Ag2r La Mondiale
Best TDF Performance: 2nd (2016)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 17th (2017 Vuelta a Espana)
Team: Romain Bardet (FRA), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Axel Domont (FRA), Tony Gallopin (FRA), Mathias Frank (SUI), Pierre Latour (FRA), Oliver Naesen (BEL), Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA)
Bardet was third last year and second the year before and will look to win it this year. The Frenchman has built his season around the Tour and has had a reasonable one. Most recently, he was third in the Criterium du Dauphine.
He has a strong team built around him for the mountains and Naesen and Dillier are going to be important for stage 9. The issue with his team is the TTT and it is not as strong as Sky’s or BMC’s, so he should be behind Porte and Froome after that stage. That leaves Stage 9 the key and he will need to limit his losses there. If he loses too much time there, he is going to find it hard to make it back up. He does have the team to make the time back and will be scary in the mountains.
Team: Bahrain Merida
Best TDF Performance: 1st (2014)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 1st (2010 Vuelta a Espana), 1st (2013, 2016 Giro d’Italia)
Team: Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA), Gorka Izagirre (SPA), Ion Izagirre (SPA). Franco Pellizotti (ITA), Heinrich Haussler (AUS), Sonny Colbrelli (ITA), Kristijan Koren (SLO)
This could be the last time Nibali has to win another Tour de France. He has built his season around this race and the results he’s had this year reflects it. He, however, has won a big race this year – Milan San-Remo, which has rounded out an unbelievable career.
Looking at Nibali’s team, he is definitely going to lose time in the TTT. They need to limit the losses there as best they can. He has proven himself over cobbles and Haussler and Koren will help him on stage 9 so I think he may get back time on the likes of Froome and Porte there – definitely Bardet and a few other contenders.
His team in the mountains is strong so he is going to have a lot of support. He is a good chance to win, but his first obstacle is getting past the TTT.
Best TDF Performance: 2nd (2013, 2015)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 1st (2016 Vuelta a Espana), 1st (2014 Giro d’Italia)
Best TDF Performance: 3rd (2015)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 1st (2009 Vuelta a Espana)
Best TDF Performance: 4th (2017)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 3rd (2015 Giro d’Italia)
Team: Alejandro Valverde (SPA), Nairo Quintana (COL), Mikel Landa (SPA), Daniele Bennati (ITA), Jose Joaquin Rojas (SPA), Imanol Erviti (SPA), Marc Soler (SPA), Andrey Amador (CRC)
For these three, it’s easy to summarise them together. Movistar have three leaders and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens. Valverde has said he will ride for Quintana and Landa, but Valverde might find himself the best placed heading into the mountains.
Movistar have a weak team for the TTT which means they are going to lose time to the other contenders straight away.
Stage nine is going to be interesting. Valverde has more experience on cobbles than Landa and Quintana so I see Valverde doing better on that stage, thus he will have the better time than the other two. Movistar will be wanting Quintana and/or Landa to also be up there and not lose too much time so they can run amok in the mountains.
Valverde could find himself in a position to sit back and take it easy whilst the other two try and make back time, and that plays into his hands as he will be fresher come the end of the third week, therefore Valverde is a good chance to not only podium, but an outside chance to win.
He has been the form rider winning in Valencia, Abu Dhabi, Catalunya, and La Route d’Occitanie.
Mikel Landa was 6th in Andalucia and Tirreno-Adriatico and was 2nd in the Basque country.
Nairo Quintana was 2nd in Colombia Oro y Paz and Catalunya, with 5th in the Basque Country and 3rd in last months Tour de Suisse.
All three riders have shown form this year and all three riders have a good case to win and we will know the likelihood of that occurring after stage 9.
Best TDF Performance: 33rd (2014)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 1st (2017 Giro d’Italia), 2nd (2018 Giro d’Italia), 6th (2015 Vuelta Espana)
Team: Soren Kragh Andersen (DEN), Nikias Arndt (GER), Tom Dumoulin (NED), Laurens Ten Dam (NED), Simon Geschke (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Michael Matthews (AUS), Edward Theuns (BEL)
Like Froome, Dumoulin is attempting the Giro/Tour double. After finishing 2nd in the Giro, he is not putting pressure on himself. He knows how hard it will be to win and is using this to gain experience in the Tour de France.
With that said, if things go his way, he could find himself on the podium. He won’t lose too much time in the TTT and is strong enough over the Cobbles to handle his own there. He could find himself high up in the GC after stage 9. From there, he doesn’t need to attack. All he needs to do is follow wheels the best he can because the final time trial is where he can do damage. If he can arrive there fresh, he could find himself on the podium, or potentially with the win. That should be his plan because if he goes hard in the mountains, he is probably going to struggle later on in the race. He will probably struggle later on anyway, but that strategy is his best chance at victory.
Best TDF Performance: 4th (2016)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 9th (2017 Giro d’Italia)
Team: Jack Bauer (NZ), Luke Durbridge (AUS), Matthew Hayman (AUS), Michael Hepburn (AUS), Damien Howson (AUS), Daryl Impey (SA), Mikel Nieve (SPA), Adam Yates (GBR)
Mitchelton-Scott controversially left out Caleb Ewan to build the team around Adam Yates and now is the time for Yates to show they made the right decision. The Australian public and media will be putting this team under huge pressure and it’s now time to respond.
This squad will be one of the favourites for the team time trial and Yates has a strong support cast on the cobbles. Yates should find himself near the top of the GC after stage 9 and whilst he doesn’t have a strong team in the mountains, Howson and Nieve will hold their own and he can find himself in a position to win this race.
Since fracturing his Pelvis in Catalunya back in March, he has finished 2nd overall in the Tour of California and also the Criterium du Dauphine. He has shown he is in form and is a very good chance to win this race.
Team: EF Education First Drapac p/b Cannondale
Best TDF Performance: 2nd (2017)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 2nd (2013, 2014 Giro d’Italia)
Team: Rigoberto Uran (COL), Pierre Rolland (FRA), Dani Martinez (COL), Simon Clarke (AUS), Sep Vanmarcke (BEL), Tom Scully (NZL), Taylor Phinney (USA), Lawson Craddock (USA)
After a quality performance last year, Uran will be looking to go one better this year. His team believe he can win and he believes he can win. He has Scully, Phinney and Craddock who will help put him in a good position in the Team Time Trial. He then has Vanmarcke and Phinney to guide him through the cobbles.
He will lose time in the TTT but he should get some of that time back on stage 9. I think he will be in a good position to strike. His lead up form has been good, with second overall in Slovenia. I’m not sure he can win it, but another podium shouldn’t be out of the equation.
Team: Lotto NL Jumbo
Best TDF Performance: 38th (2017)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 58th (2016 Giro d’Italia)
Team: Lotto NL Jumbo
Best TDF Performance: 15th (2014)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 4th (2016 Giro d’Italia), 9th (2017 Vuelta a Espana)
Team: Primoz Roglic (SLO), Steven Kruijswijk (NED), Paul Martens (GER), Timo Roosen (NED), Dylan Groenewegen (NED), Amund Grondahl Jansen (NOR), Robert Gesink (NED), Antwan Tolhoek (NED)
Like Movistar, I have put these two together to cover in one go.
Roglic has had a superb year. 6th in Valencia followed up with wins in the Basque Country, Tour de Romandie and most recently the Tour of Slovenia. He is coming into this race in form.
Kruijswijk has been preparing for this race and has had consistent results. 7th in Andalucia, 8th in Catalunya, 6th in Romandie and 8th in Switzerland.
As for the team time trial, they have a reasonable team and have the team that should guide them well over cobbles. They should find themselves in an okay position heading into the Alps.
Kruijswijk is definitely targeting the overall whilst Roglic will probably look for stage wins. Kruijswijk was leading the Giro d’Italia before he crashed out in 2016. He is also suited to the final time trial – as is Roglic.
I think Kruijswijk will be the man here and is a good chance to finish on the podium.
Best TDF Performance: 7th (2013)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 11th (2011 Vuelta a Espana), 12th (2016 Giro d’Italia)
Team: Jakob Fuglsang (DEN), Jesper Hansen (DEN), Magnus Cort (DEN), Michael Valgren (DEN), Omar Fraile (SPA), Luis Leon Sanchez (SPA), Tanel Kangert (EST), Dmitry Gruzdev (KAZ)
Jakob Fuglsang is in great form at the moment and has had a good year on the bike. He was third in Valencia, 4th in Andalucia, 14th in Paris-Nice, 4th in Romandie and 2nd in Switzerland.
His ex DS, Bjarne Riis has recently said Fuglsang is the thinnest he’s ever seen him. He is a legitimate shot to win.
Astana are inconsistent in TTT’s and this team is a bit on the weak side, so they really need to limit their losses as best as they can. Fuglsang should do well on stage 9, however, with the support he has, so he should still find himself in an okay spot heading into the Alps, but the TTT is the most important stage for him.
Still, Fuglsang will do well and is a legitimate chance to podium. It all needs to go right early on in the race.
Team: UAE Team Emirates
Best TDF Performance: 6th (2017)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 7th (2014 Vuelta a Espana)
Team: Dan Martin (IRE), Alexander Kristoff (NOR), Darwin Atapuma (COL), Kristijan Durasek (CRO), Rory Sutherland (AUS), Marco Marcato (ITA), Roberto Ferrari (ITA), Oliviero Troia (ITA)
I was going to leave Dan Martin out, but thought I’d summarise this in a paragraph. He won’t win, and he won’t podium. His best hope is to go for stage victories. He has a poor team for the TTT so he will lose a lot of time. He will also lose time on the cobbles. Not to mention he is going to bleed time in the final time trial. He is going to be so far down heading into the Alps that stage victories should be his goal.
Best TDF Performance: 6th (2013)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 4th (2011 Vuelta a Espana), 7th (2017 Giro d’Italia)
Team: Bauke Mollema (NED), John Degenkolb (GER), Jasper Stuyven (BEL), Koen de Kort (NED), Julien Bernard (FRA), Tsgabu Grmay (ETH), Michael Gogl (AUT), Toms Skujins (LAT)
Unfortunately for Mollema, his team is not the best. He is going to lose time in the TTT. He should be well protected, however, during stage 9 and is a chance to make time up but come the mountains, he is going to be isolated. Bernard and Grmay are in good form, but I don’t think they will be able to stick with him much.
He has had a good year with 4th in Algarve, 2nd in Coppie e Bartoli, 7th in the Basque country and 12th in Switzerland.
I do think he will come top 10 and depending on how people around him fare, could be mid top 10. He won’t be challenging for the win or podium.
Best TDF Performance: 25th (2016)
Other Grand Tour Performance: 3rd (2017 Vuelta a Espana), 5th (2017 Giro d’Italia)
Team: Ilnur Zakarin (RUS), Ian Bowell (USA), Robert Kiserlovski (CRO), Pavel Kochetkov (RUS), Marcel Kittel (GER), Tony Martin (GER), Nils Politt (GER), Rick Zabel (GER)
Ilnur Zakarin has performed brilliantly in his last two Grand Tours and will be looking for another high result here. He has had consistent results this year and 10th overall in the Criterium du Dauphine shows that he is heading in the right direction to the race he has been targeting.
Katusha have a half-reasonable squad for the TTT. He will still lose time, but not too much. He also has good support in the cobbles. Where he is let down, however, is his bike handling skills and support in the mountains. The cobbled stage is a big danger for him. He needs to get past that unscathed. As for the mountains, he is going to be doing it alone. It won’t bother him though and he should compete with the best and if he is in a position to strike in the Alps, then watch out.
Best TDF Performance: 27th (2016)
Best Grand Tour Performance: 3rd (2015 Vuelta a Espana), 5th (2016 Giro d’Italia)
Team: Peter Sagan (SVK), Rafal Majka (POL), Maciej Bodnar (POL), Pawel Poljanski (POL), Marcus Burghardt (GER), Gregor Muhlberger (AUT), Lukas Postlberger (AUT), Daniel Oss (ITA)
Rafal Majka has had a solid year. 5th in San Juan and Abu Dhabi followed by 6th in California and Slovenia leading up to this race.
He doesn’t have a good team for the TTT and he should be well protected in stage 9 with Sagan, Burghardt and Oss there to support him.
Majka will be down on the other GC contenders but he has an okay climbing team. If he’s not too far down after stage 9, he will continue to ride for a high result – probably scraping into top 10. If he is too far down, then the Polka Dot Jersey and stage wins will be a goal for him after winning the jersey twice back in 2014 and 2016.
Riders from non GC teams that could pull off top 10’s are: Damien Gaudin (Groupama FDJ), Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors), Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Lilian Calmejane & Rein Taaramae (Direct Energie) and Daniel Navarro (Cofidis).
Riders from GC teams that could pull off top 10’s are: Woet Poels & Geraint Thomas (Sky), Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), Pierre Latour (Ag2r), Gorka & Ion Izagirre (Bahrain – Merida)
Speaking of the top 10, time to try and pick it. This preview is different to the others because I think recent history will prove correct and Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin will not win. Richie Porte still has a lot to prove over three weeks.
Make no mistake about it – there are going to be crashes. There always is. The opening stage is more prone to it than ever. Then we will have riders lose chunks of time on stage nine if they don’t crash out. This top 10 is based off trying to predict these factors. If all this happens, then we will find riders making the top 10 that are complete outsiders that no one would have thought of.
- Vincenzo Nibali
- Adam Yates
- Steven Kruijswijk
- Ilnur Zakarin
- Alejandro Valverde
- Jakob Fuglsang
- Geraint Thomas
- Romain Bardet
- Rigoberto Uran
- Nairo Quintana