Having assessed the green and white jersey contenders, later this week they’ll be a look who can win the race. But even if all three pieces list plenty of protagonists there’s a much wider cast of characters. So here’s a look at the 22 teams and some of their riders who might shine in breakaways.
|Leader: Chris Froome
Joker: Richie Porte
Sponsor: TV broadcaster
|Chris Froome (GBR), Richie Porte (AUS), Geraint Thomas (GBR), Bernie Eisel (AUT), Mikel Nieve (ESP), David Lopez (ESP), Vasil Kiryienka (BLR), Xabi Zandio (ESP), Danny Pate (USA)|
The near-invincible appearance has vanished this year after a series of bad luck with injuries, crashes and other misfortunes denting the team’s success and even image. Reflecting this the squad seems weaker than last year, Richie Porte has struggled to get going and last year they had stage-winning options with Edvald Boasson Hagen that don’t exist this time and the whole squad is pressed into the service of Chris Froome. The supporting cast is impressive with Mikkel Nieve leading the charge in the mountains but with often underrated riders while the likes of Tinkoff-Saxo and Astana arguably support riders with more wins to their name, think Rogers or Scarponi.
|Leader: Alejandro Valverde
Sprinter: J-J Rojas
Joker: Giovanni Visconti
Sponsor: mobile telecoms
|Imanol Erviti (ESP), John Gadret (FRA), Jesus Herrada (ESP), Benat Intxausti (ESP), Ion Izagirre (ESP), Ruben Plaza (ESP), José Joaquin Rojas (ESP), Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Giovanni Visconti (ITA)|
Is José Joaquin Rojas a sprinter? He’s a got a fast finish and regular finisher in the top-10 but rarely wins. The team’s built around Alejandro Valverde but has options on several stages. Giovanni Visconti’s attacking riding won him two stages of the Giro last year, expect to see him have a free role similar to Rui Costa last year. Beñat Intxausti, Ion Izagirre and Jesus Herrada are all luxury support for Valverde.
|Leader: Joaquim Rodriguez
Sprinter: Alexander Kristoff
Joker: Simon Špilak
Sponsor: Russian oligarch
|Yuri Trofimov (RUS), Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP), Egor Silin (RUS), Simon Špilak (SLO), Alexander Kristoff (NOR), Alexander Porsev (RUS), Luca Paolini (ITA), Gatis Smukulis (LET) and Vladimir Isaychev (RUS)|
A big budget outfit backed by a Kremlin-friendly oligarch, Katusha have never quite seemed a coherent team even if Joaquim Rodriguez has consistently delivered podium finishes in grand Tours. In the Dauphiné last month they looked much better. a cohesive and offensive outfit. Now Rodriguez says he wants stage wins – who doesn’t? – and it’s a good ruse to deflect pressure and get some extra room for manoeuvre. Sprinter Kristoff is an outside bet for stage wins while the team has a series of riders capable of winning on the hilly days, for example Simon Špilak, Egor Silin and Yuri Trofimov to do what they did in the Dauphiné. They can’t match the GC contenders on a summit finish but will look to scramble early in the stage.
|Leader: Alberto Contador
Joker: Nicolas Roche
Sponsor: credit cards / online stock broker
|Daniele Bennati (ITA), Alberto Contador (ESP), Jesus Hernandez (ESP), Rafal Majka (POL), Michael Morkov (DAN), Sergio Paulinho (POR), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Michael Rogers (AUS), Matteo Tosatto (ITA)|
If you’ve every played a fantasy cycling game Tinkoff-Saxo team owner Oleg Tinkov is doing the same only with real money instead of virtual credits. This another team in service of one leader. Daniele Bennati and Michael Mørkøv can sprint but will probably be bulky bodyguards for Contador on the flat with Nicolas Roche, Rafał Majka and Jesus Hernandez doing the same in the mountains. Michael Rogers is the road captain and was on Team Sky when Bradley Wiggins won, he’ll be able to pass on plenty of tactical intel. It’s a very strong team and it’ll be fascinating to see what tactics manager Bjarne Riis tries to spring on the race.
|Leader: Vincenzo Nibali
Joker: Lieuwe Westra
Sponsor: Kazakhstan govt.
|Jakob Fuglsang (DAN), Andriy Grivko (UKR), Dmitriy Gruzdev (KAZ), Maxim Iglinskiy (KAZ), Tanel Kangert (EST), Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Michele Scarponi (ITA), Alessandro Vanotti (ITA), Lieuwe Westra (HOL)|
Vincenzo Nibali and company are tasked with bringing glory to the Kazakh nation, a tough job for a team fronted by arch-cheat Alexandr Vinokourov, a rider caught using both Dr Fuentes and Dr Ferrari; at least Borat was harmless fun. Another big-budget team, this is a top heavy squad with plenty of big hitters. Lieuwe Westra was great value in the Dauphiné and Jacob Fuglsang is top-10 outsider too. Michele Scarponi, another Fuentes-Ferrari man, will be a precious help in the mountains and if he’s been invisible this year he looked very strong in last Sunday’s Italian championships.
|Leader: Peter Sagan
Joker: Alessandro De Marchi
Sponsor: bicycle manufacturer
|Maciej Bodnar (POL), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Ted King (USA), Kristijan Koren (SLV), Marco Marcato (ITA), Jean-Marc Marino (FRA), Fabio Sabatini (ITA), Peter Sagan (SLQ), Elia Viviani (ITA)|
Team green, the team is all about helping Peter Sagan win stages and intermediate sprints in order to rack up the points to wear the green jersey. Sagan is helped by sprinter Elia Viviani while Alessandro De Marchi will try his chance in the mountains, Marco Marcato too. Ted King will be working hard for Sagan but with the aim of getting to Paris after his early elimination last year caused one of those Twitter storms. Behind this the team’s future has some uncertainty and it’s likely Sagan will leave.
|Leader: Bauke Mollema
Joker: Steven Kruijswijk
Sponsor: consumer electronics accessories
|Lars Boom (HOL), Stef Clement (HOL), Laurens ten Dam (HOL), Seven Kruijswijk (HOL), Tom Leezer (HOL), Bauke Mollema (HOL), Bram Tankink (HOL), Sep Vanmarcke (BEL), Maarten Wynants (BEL)|
The Dutch once had a strong line in piracy, an early venture before the small nation became a trading superpower centuries ago. Now Belkin must resemble a pirate ship, leaking water thanks to the imminent withdrawal of its sponsor and riders looking for treasure on foreign shores. Still there’s a job to do in order to get Bauke Mollema in the top-5. Kruiswijk’s been top-10 on GC in the Giro before and a punchy rider for the mountains while Laurens Ten Dam is a strong climber who’ll ride steadily in support of Mollema, Stef Clement will do the same but is more the rouleur than climber. Sep Vanmarcke’s an interesting choice, he’s recovering from injury but bring plenty for the opening week.
|Leader: Mark Cavendish
Joker: Michał Kwiatkowski
Sponsor: parapharmaceuticals / laminate flooring
|Jan Bakelants (BEL), Mark Cavendish (GBR), Michał Gołas (POL), Michał Kwiatkowski (POL), Tony Martin (GER), Alessandro Petacchi (ITA), Mark Renshaw (AUS), Niki Terpstra (HOL), Matteo Trentin (ITA)|
The Belgian super team is built to launch Mark Cavendish into the yellow jersey and then rack up as many stage wins as possible. Michał Kwiatkowski’s fast but nervous in the sprint train and could be used early each day like Tony Martin to control the breakaway. If not he’ll take his chances in the mountains, he still seems limited by the high mountains and pure summit finishes but could find the Vosges ideal as long as the form is there, he was off the pace in the Dauphiné.
|Leader: Jean-Christophe Péraud
Sprinter: Samuel Dumoulin
Joker: Christophe Riblon
Sponsor: health insurance
|Romain Bardet (FRA), Mikaël Chérel (FRA), Samuel Dumoulin (FRA), Ben Gastauer (LUX), Blel Kadri (FRA), Sébastien Minard (FRA), Matteo Montaguti (ITA),Jean-Christophe Péraud (FRA), Christophe Riblon (FRA)|
The brown short brigade aren’t the laughing stock they once were. As proof earlier this year they led the UCI’s team rankings. Over the years the team has turned to foreign leaders and it’s never worked out and now Colombian sensation Carlos Betancur he fell so ill it seemed he couldn’t get to the phone to tell the team he wasn’t riding the Tour. But the squad has several capable replacements. First up is the likeable Romain Bardet, an intelligent climber with an attacking temperament while Jean-Christophe Péraud is the opposite, clever but a steady rider who can crack the top-10 by stealth, he was on course for a high finish before crashing out. The rest of the team has several stage poachers with Alpe d’Huez winner Christophe Riblon looking to repeat last year’s success. Mikaël Chérel and Blel Kadri are attacking riders each capable of winning a stage from a breakaway. Samuel Dumoulin is the house sprinter and useful in smaller races but he’s not won a World Tour level race for over 1,000 days.
|Leader: Andrew Talansky
Joker: Janier Acevedo
Sponsor: sat-nav / consumer electronics
|Janier Acevedo (COL), Jack Bauer (NZL), Alex Howes (USA), Ben King (USA), Sebastian Langeveld (HOL), Ramunas Navardauskas (LIT), Tom-Jelte Slagter (HOL), Andrew Talansky (USA), Johan Vansummeren (BEL)|
A bunch of jokers in every sense. It’s hard to name one “joker” above but also the team’s has a fun approach to racing that hides the serious bid by Andrew Talansky to get on the Tour’s podium and if you still doubt the steely side, ask David Millar. Ramunas Navardauskas resembles a wild horse, all raw power that needs to be harnessed while Janier Acevedo is a pure climber ready replicate compatriot Julian Arredondo’s Giro performance. It’s collectively that the team shines, they’re an entrepreneurial outfit capable of turning the race upside down with risk-taking tactics.
|Leader: Marcel Kittel
Joker: John Degenkolb
Sponsor: bicycles / cycle components
|Roy Curvers (HOL), John Degenkolb (GER), Marcel Kittel (GER), Tom Veelers (HOL), Dries Devenyns (BEL), Tom Dumoulin (HOL), Koen de Kort (HOL), Albert Timmer (HOL) et Cheng Ji (CHN)|
Giant by name and by nature, this is team of hulks, a collection of riders with tree-trunk legs. There’s a fascinating sprint combo with Marcel Kittel as the star attraction and John Degenkolb as the back-up. The rest of the team are in their service and Tom Dumoulin will fancy the Stage 20 time trial. There’s also Cheng Ji, the first Chinese rider to start the Tour but his performances have been modest and it’s far from certain he’ll be the first Chinese finisher. This is another team searching for a sponsor but the riders should be less frantic, knowing that stage wins for Kittel and Degenkolb should translate to sponsors and if not, job offers elsewhere.
|Leader: Rui Costa
Sprinter: Sacha Modolo
Joker: Chris Horner
Sponsor: laminated steel / bicycle manufactuer
|Davide Cimolai (ITA), Rui Costa (POR), Kristijan Durasek (CRO), Chris Horner (USA), Sacha Modolo (ITA), Nelson Oliveira (POR), Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (ARG), Josè Rodolfo Serpa (COL), Rafael Valls (ESP)|
In recent years it’s been possible to scan the Tour results in Paris, spot the Lampré name and remark you never noticed them at all apart from the “Cunego en difficulté” mention during the first mountain. Things look very different now. After winning the Tour de Suisse last year Rui Costa went on to win two stage wins in the Tour. This time he’s more ambitious and is team leader with aims for a high finish overall. Team support for Costa seems light but Chris Horner will be a curiosity, yes he’s 42 but he’s also an unknown quantity this year with a series of injuries forcing him out of races and hitting is performance-dependent income. The Vuelta winner though is a pure climber and might find the Tour’s more gentle ski station summit finishes don’t suit. José Serpa’s good value in the mountains while Rafael Valls is always cited as talented and promising only he’s yet to deliver.
|Leader: Thibaut Pinot
Sprinter: Arnaud Démare
Joker: Arthur Vichot
Sponsor: French state lottery
|Wiliam Bonnet (FRA), Mickaël Delage (FRA), Arnaud Démare (FRA), Arnold Jeannesson (FRA), Matthieu Ladagnous (FRA), Cédric Pineau (FRA), Thibaut Pinot (FRA), Jérémy Roy (FRA), Arthur Vichot (FRA)|
Two teams for the price of one. There’s the GC bid by Thibaut Pinot who will look for a stage win in the mountains while there are riders on duty to help guide Arnaud Démare for the sprint stages. Démare is impressive but this is his first Tour, it’ll be interesting to see how he copes with the media and the hype plus we’ll see how William Bonnet, Mickaël Delage and Mathieu Ladagnous function as leadout when set agasint the likes of OPQS, Giant-Shimano and Lotto-Belisol: a TGV sprint train or a slowpoke TER? Arnold Jeannesson is a strong climber but likely riding for Pinot which leaves Arthur Vichot and Jérémy Roy as their breakaway stage poachers.
|Leader: Jürgen Van Den Broeck
Sprinter: André Greipel
Joker: Tony Gallopin
Sponsor: Belgian state lottery / window manufacturer
|Jürgen Van den Broeck (BEL), Andre Greipel (GER), Greg Henderson (NZL), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Marcel Sieberg (GER), Tony Gallopin (FRA), Lars Bak (DAN), Adam Hansen (AUS), Bart de Clercq (BEL)|
Almost identical to FDJ. Here’s a team’ sponsored by a lottery that has high hopes for the overall and the sprint. The GC ambitions come from the ghostly Jürgen Van Den Broeck while André Greipel leads the sprint challenge. The Belgian team brings more certainty but with a touch less flair and youth than their French cousins. Tony Gallopin’s their joker, he’s got a fast finish but does very well on hilly terrain, it’s almost as if he’s still exploring his limits.
|Leader: Tejay van Garderen
Sprinter: Greg Van Avermaet
Joker: Peter Velits
Sponsor: bicycle frames
|Darwin Atapuma (COL), Marcus Burghardt (GER), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Daniel Oss (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Peter Stetina (USA), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA), Peter Velits (SLQ)|
Last year the team had an internal coup with Philippe Gilbert instrumental in forcing out John Lelangue. Now management is more settled and Gilbert’s skipping the race too. A big budget team but expectations have been revised after Tejay van Garderen’s Dauphiné performance. He could well shine and is still the obvious GC leader. Greg Van Avermaet is their sprinter but he’s really a classics specialist and will look to Stage 2 to Sheffield and Stage 5 to Wallers-Arenberg for suitable finishes. Peter Velits is an odd case, a quiet rider who’s been third overall in the Vuelta and won the Tour of Oman in 2012 and has a fast finish too, an ideal stage hunter but he’s never shone in the Tour. Visa problems mean Darwin Atampuma might not survive his selection.
|Leader: Thomas Voeckler
Sprinter: Bryan Coquard
Joker: Pierre Rolland
Sponsor: Car rental
|Yukiya Arashiro (JPN), Bryan Coquard (FRA), Cyril Gautier (FRA), Yohann Gène (FRA), Alexandre Pichot (FRA), Perrig Quémeneur (FRA), Kévin Reza (FRA), Pierre Rolland (FRA), Thomas Voeckler (FRA)|
For years Europcar has been a vehicle for Thomas Voeckler but like an old Citroen Voeckler is beginning to rust and results just don’t come so easily these days. Pierre Rolland is their better chance but prone to tactical blunders, his bid for a high GC finish last year vanished when he went chasing the mountains jersey and he lost that too. He says he’s a changed man after his Giro performances but it’s easy to get frisky to the siren calls of “Allez Pierre”. Yukiya Arashiro’s lost his Japanese champion title so will be back in green. Bryan Coquard is their sprinter and a real prospect but will need lead out Kévin Reza’s power to help hold position. Should it be mentioned that the team has two black riders? Yes because in almost monochromatic peloton it’s a difference.
|Leader: Haimar Zubeldia
Sprinter: Danny van Poppel
Joker: Fabian Cancellara
Sponsor: bicycle manufacturer
|Fabian Cancellara (SUI), Fränk Schleck (LUX), Andy Schleck (LUX), Haimar Zubeldia (ESP), Jens Voigt (GER), Matthew Busche (USA), Markel Irizar (ESP), Gregory Rast (SUI) et Danny van Poppel (HOL)|
Zubeldia might be the team’s best shot at a high overall position. A low profile rider, he’s been in the top-10 of the Tour before. Fränk Schleck could aim for a high GC placing while brother Andy says he’s riding to help but this won’t stop the spotlight on him. House sprinter Danny van Poppel is fast but very young and if he features in the top-5 it’s a result already. Hopefully we’ll see Fabian Cancellara threatening late attacks throughout the race because the Stage 20 time trial isn’t the certain stage win given Tony Martin’s racing and the Swiss rider has a sharp racing brain. Expect to see Jens Voigt on the rampage as he aims to match the record of 17 Tour finishes held by the tarnished George Hincapie and Stuart O’Grady.
|Leader: Dani Navarro
Sprinter: Adrien Petit
Joker: Rein Taaramäe
Sponsor: consumer credit
|Nicolas Edet (FRA), Egoitz Garcia (ESP), Cyril Lemoine (FRA), Luis Angel Maté (ESP), Rudy Molard (FRA), Daniel Navarro (ESP), Julien Simon (FRA), Adrien Petit (FRA), Rein Taaramäe (EST)|
Here’s a team with the potential for more to go wrong than right. They’re struggled in recent years and haven’t won a stage of the Tour de France since 2008. But all this means expectations are set low which suits them well. Taaramäe was the fourth man on the Planche des Belle Filles behind Wiggins and Evans and has the talent to repeat this and more but seems prone to injury and illness. Dani Navarro is the team leader, a climber who was ninth in the recent Dauphiné and cracked the top-10 in the Tour last year with a late bid. There are rumours Navarro’s been working with banned coach Jose “Pepe” Martí, let’s hope these are false and don’t emerge as rest day revelations. Elsewhere the team does have options for those breakaway stages with the rat-tailed Luis Angel Maté, the promising Rudy Molard and the punchy Julien Simon.
|Leader: Simon Gerrans
Sprinter: Michael Matthews
Joker: Michael Albasini
Sponsor: speciality chemicals
|Michael Albasini (SUI), Simon Clarke (AUS), Luke Durbridge (AUS), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Mathew Hayman (AUS), Jens Keukeleire (BEL), Michael Matthews (AUS), Svein Tuft (CAN), Simon Yates (GBR)|
Stage wins are the goal, fitting for a team sponsored by a company that makes explosives. There’s no GC pretentions here, instead the team will look to dynamite the race. It’s packed with options for breakaways on a range of terrain plus Michael Matthews as the sprinter who’ll prefer the hillier finishes. The team’s only problem is who to back on each day, take Stage 2 and the hilly finish, does Simon Gerrans try to infiltrate a late move or do the team get behind Michael Matthews? Their answer will be to take every option going, every day. Doubly-so given the team needs a good news boost to counter the news of Daryl Impey’s doping positive.
|Leader: Mathias Frank
Sprinter: Heinrich Haussler
Joker: Séb Reichenbach
Sponsor: fund manager
|Sylvain Chavanel (FRA), Martin Elmiger (SUI), Mathias Frank (SUI), Heinrich Haussler (AUS), Reto Hollenstein (SUI), Roger Kluge (GER), Jérôme Pineau (FRA), Sébastien Reichenbach (SUI), Marcel Wyss (SUI)|
The Swiss team’s a wildcard invitation but has plenty to offer. Mathias Frank comes off a good Tour de Suisse. Roger Kluge will try to manoeuvre Haussler into position for the sprints. Sylvain Chavanel’s back to top form after a strong ride in the French TT championships, his sixth title and has an open role to head up the road in search of stage wins but he’s a famous rider with few wins to his name. Climber Séb Reichenbach will support Frank while new Swiss champion Martin Elmiger is a tough rider who’ll look forward to Stage 5 and the pavé. A stage win is the the dream but a top-10 finish for Frank would be more than respectable.
|Leader: Leopold König
Joker: Tiago Machado
Sponsor: software / cycle clothing
|Jan Barta (RTC), David de la Cruz (ESP), Zak Dempster (AUS), Bartosz Huzarski (POL), Leopold König (RTC), Tiago Machado (POR), Jose Mendes (POR), Andreas Schillinger (GER), Paul Voss (GER)|
Leopold König‘s exciting riding in the Tour of California and Vuelta last year did plenty to help the team get a wildcard invitation but they’ve got more than the Czech climber to offer. They might need it as König‘s not looked so incisive of late. Helpfully Tiago Machado’s just won the Tour of Slovenia, sure it’s a modest race but the Portuguese climber is a good candidate for a long range raid in the mountains. Zak Dempster and Paul Voss might give the sprints a go while Jan Barta and Bartosz Huzarski are strong riders for a breakaway.
|Leader: Brice Feillu
Sprinter: Romain Feillu
Joker: Florian Vachon
Sponsor: French region / recycling
|Jean-Marc Bideau (FRA), Brice Feillu (FRA), Romain Feillu (FRA), Armindo Fonseca (FRA), Arnaud Gérard (FRA), Anthony Delaplace (FRA), Florian Guillou (FRA), Florian Vachon (FRA)|
Will Bretagne-Séché be hung out to dry? A wildcard invitation and you have to go to wild lengths to find a result, the team has won four races this year and all in domestic .1 and .2 status races. A team with a strong regional identity finds itself starting the world’s biggest race, it’s a big ask given half the team hasn’t ridden a grand tour yet. But all of this should be priced in to expectations and their triumph is simply starting the race. An inflamed gut means Romain Feillu’s not the sprint kamikaze of the past, Armindo Fonseca is a fast finisher. Lanky Brice Feillu’s a good climber but out of the results too. Sadly the team’s lost their best rider to injury with Argentine Eduardo Sepulveda out because of a bad knee, he’s an excellent climber and could have been a revelation. Instead Florian Vachon is a clever rider who could well use the Tour as a shop window to sign for a bigger team. Expect them to flood the daily breakaway, the Tour has it’s romantic side and once in a while the underdog can win.