Who Will Win The Tour de France?

Chris Froome and Ritchie Porte are the top picks. Spend too long watching them and someone else will ride away, just as we saw in the recent Critérium du Dauphiné when Astana set up Jacob Fuglsang for the win. With a varied route ahead it’ll be as interesting to see how the win happens as well as who stands atop the podium in Paris.

With enough unknowns to keep Heisenberg, Socrates and Karl Popper guessing here’s a closer look at the contenders and pretenders for the podium in Paris.

Route summary: two time trials totalling just 36.5km, not much but enough for some to take a minute and more on their rivals. Three summit finishes evenly spaced across the race offering set piece opportunities to take control of the race and three, possibly four, other mountain stages with a downhill run to the finish with a theme of steep gradients where there’s no slipstream to hide behind. There are time bonuses of 10-6-4 seconds on all stages except for the two time trials.

Chris Froome goes for his fourth win. Three wins bring experience and over 40 days and nights in the yellow jersey and all that goes with it, from defending a race lead to handling the media and public expectations. This helps but it’s marginalia. The real question is Froome’s form and we’ve not had the habitual wins during the season. Good in the Critérium du Dauphiné but not dominant, he finished fourth overall after could have finished second but opted to bury Richie Porte instead, a sign of his steely side and ambition too, there’s no point securing a lower step on the podium if the win is within reach. Sky’s insecurity over Froome’s condition is our gain, the prospect of a greater contest rather than the habitual pattern of Team Sky taking yellow jersey after a week and holding onto it forever, the standard pattern for four of the last five years. One evolution during this period has been his racing style, he’s now a more aggressive and entrepreneurial rider although let’s remember he gained seconds from these moves last year and minutes in the time trials. If anything his improved descending skills are a concern for the way he throws himself down the mountain with the forceful style of a slalom skier, you can almost hear tires screeching but it does give him a weapon to push Porte. Team Sky assemble a team of millionaires with domestiques could lead on other teams and it’ll be interesting to see if Geraint Thomas tries for a high place overall or if he follows the rotation policy of resting on some days and losing time in order to help Froome better. The Welshman was a serious contender for the Giro so remains one to watch in France.

Richie Porte is the form pick, the apprentice who wants to topple his old master, the star who wants to eclipse Sky. He has been the best and most consistent rider of the season and even when he has lost, he’s reassured. His defeat in Paris-Nice came about after a mistake but he bounced back to win the mountain stage; he lost the Critérium du Dauphiné on the final day but didn’t lose his mind despite losing his team mates. He was good in June but the Tour has been the big goal so there’s every chance he’s better in July. Can he cope with a grand tour? It’s become accepted wisdom that he can’t ride consistently for three weeks only it’s wrong: see his Tour de France last year where if it wasn’t for that puncture he would have placed second overall. Yes he punctured at a bad time, and there is something in the Napoleonic quip that it’s better to be lucky than good, but the point is Porte was mentally and physiologically consistent last year and even if punctures come into play again he’s the sole leader of BMC Racing which means he should get a wheel this time. The question is dealing with the media pressure and expectation but he seems more relaxed in front of the cameras too. The team is strong but need to prove themselves in the mountains following the Dauphiné debacle but they’re reinforced by Damiano Caruso, fresh from finishing second in the Tour de Suisse.

Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana form a formidable double act for Movistar. If Valverde could have drawn a route he might have picked this one with the lack of high altitude and the varied route including downhill runs to waiting time bonuses. The 37 year old has enjoyed a superb season with wins in stage races and spring classics alike but Dauphiné didn’t bring matching results even if he was close on the climbs and delivered a very good time trial. Since then he was so strong in the Spanish championships he could gift the win to team mate Jesus Herrada. Nairo Quintana has stood on the podium in Paris three times already and in between last year’s Tour and starting tomorrow El Condor has won the Vuelta and finished second in the Giro, his record looks as consistent as his face looks stoic. He rode around Italy resembling a car driving in a gear too high, going uphill in fourth when he needed third and unable to take much time on the climbs, normally his strong point. The talk is his form is good, the proof will come soon. Movistar offer ample support, including strongman Andrey Amador plus Carlos Betancur who is looking angular again.

Fabio Aru and Jacob Fuglsang are another tantalizing tandem. They won the Dauphiné with the old 1-2 on the final stage, firing Aru up the road first and then Fuglsang counter-attacked on the final climb to win the race. They should work well together, Fuglsang as the consistent package who can do a respectable time trial and climb well but still with doubts about lasting into the third week but his Dauphiné ride and new-found winning ways will boost confidence; Aru seems to have rediscovered his effortless pedal stroke, like a dog let off the leash in the Dauphiné and took a solo win in the Italian championships.

Romain Bardet was second last year thanks to what the French call a coup d’audace. His bold move to Le Bettex allowed him take time, enough to distinguish him from the other climbers trailing in Froome’s wake. His form is a question, he wasn’t as incisive in the Dauphiné as he was last year but says he’s been working on this. If you can finish second in the Tour you can win but he, like all the others last year, were minutes behind Froome. So if you can finish second you can also finish, say, fifth. He’ll be lively to watch, time losses in the opening stage means he’ll attack and a podium in Paris with a stage win would delight his team. Ag2r La Mondiale also bring Pierre Latour, a contender for the white jersey if Brigitte and Bernadette agree while Mathias Frank has finished 8th before in the Tour de France while captaining IAM in 2015 but will work for the team.

Like Bardet Dan Martin had a strong Dauphiné last year and went on to have a good Tour. He’s just had another good Dauphiné. Last year he regretted a few attacks in the mountains because they just backfired, he went into oxygen debt and paid for it with time losses. Will he ride a more conservative Tour? Hopefully not but his contract is up and the higher the overall position, the better his deal. He did a decent time trial in the Dauphiné by his standards too and should be front group material in the mountains.

Alberto Contador could be starting his last Tour de France. His Dauphiné was discreet, apparently he was under orders not to attack but at times following the wheels looked hard, he seemed hunched and twisted on the bike as he tried to match rivals on the climbs. If he doesn’t win, he should be exciting to watch. Not for him a steady seventh place and a pot of UCI points, there’s nothing to prove: it’s all or nothing as we saw in Paris-Nice this year. But would he sign for a raid, a stage win and a podium finish? Surely yes. Trek-Segafredo also bring Bauke Mollema who attempts his own Giro-Tour double and the pair can work well together with talk of the mountains jersey for Mollema rather than a high finish overall but contend for the polka dot and you’re hanging with the best already and the Dutchman is good in a time trial too.

Esteban Chaves is aiming to win the Tour de France. But in 2017? Perhaps 2018 is better because the cherubic Colombian has been short of form and racing this year but remains a prodigious talent in the mountains capable of darting accelerations. A similar story for Simon Yates who is another of Orica-Scott’s long term plans – the team is searching for a sponsor to replace Orica – but the form hasn’t shown yet this year. He knows the Planche des Belles Filles well having lived nearby for a while and can sprint well from small groups. Both can do well but a big result overall would be a pleasant surprise.

Primož Roglič

Primož Roglič could be Lotto-Jumbo’s surprise package. A good opening time trial, a strong climb to the Planche des Belles Filles and he could be in yellow. Possibly but maybe not, what’s more certain is he’s only finished one grand tour before so this Tour is a big jump into the unknown. Robert Gesink had a great time trial in the Dutch national championships so the form looks good but his days as a GC contender seem long gone, he might be hunting stages instead, a tactic that delivered at Vuelta last year. George Bennett brings more options, the Kiwi won the the Tour of California thanks to consistently strong riding; of course the field is much deeper now but one to watch.
Rigoberto Uran
Andrew Talansky was close to winning in California and leads Cannondale-Drapac along with Rigoberto Urán. The Colombian seems to be in better form but that’s only because the Route du Sud which rode is more recent that Talansky’s good Dauphiné ride. Urán could be a stealth pick for a good ride, he’s good in the time trials and versatile in the mountains, if he can discover the kind of form that almost had him winning the Giro during his Quick Step days while Talansky is also chasing his past and the days when could follow Contador and Froome uphill when others could not. Pierre Rolland is stage-hunting and maybe chasing the polka-dot jersey.

Louis Meintjes (UAE Emirates) had a great Tour last year, consistently climbing with the best but languishing in the time time trials and in need of a better team to shepherd him across the flatter stages. He looked sharp at the Dauphiné so a repeat ride into the top-10 is likely and possibly a stage win too.

Finally the others to watch… Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) is aiming for a stage win and having targeted the Giro he’d probably prefer to do the Vuelta but starting the Tour is the least the French leader of a French team can do. Rafał Majka isn’t the talk of the town but remains a strong climber who could win the mountains jersey again and comfortably sit in the top-10 by Paris with Bora-Hansgrohe team mate Emmanuel Buchmann improving too for a top-15 and maybe the white jersey. Ion Izagirre is a complete rider, able in the time trials and mountains alike and comes out of a good Tour de Suisse but he’s never lead a team into a grand tour and a win seems unlikely, Bahrain-Merida will be satisfied if he can hang with the front group regularly and aim for a prestigious stage win, especially if he can exploit the descending skills he showed in the rain to Morzine last year. Warren Barguil is hoping for a stage win, he broke his hip in May so he’s chasing his form which was good in the Dauphiné but not excellent.

Richie Porte, Chris Froome
Alejandro Valverde, Jacob Fuglsang
Nairo Quintana
Fabio Aru, Romain Bardet, Dan Martin, Alberto Contador
Izagirre, Yates, Chaves, Mollema

85 thoughts on “Who Will Win The Tour de France?”

        • The only safe prediction is that most predictions go wrong. Valverde is having a great year and the course suits plus Quintana could be a bit stale, even if he only loses one chainring in my thoughts because if all the riders he seems suited to grinding on, eg he’s often good in week 3 of a grand tour, he’s got the recovery abilities. As for Fuglsang he had a great Dauphiné, each time he was tested on a climb he did very well, he’ll come out ahead of Aru in the opening time trial which helps him a bit and he’s just renewed at Astana meaning he won’t feel nervous, the team is backing him. That’s the thought anyway. As much as the piece is trying to look ahead, hopefully everything is uncertain to the end.

    • I just want to see Porte put together a trouble-free three weeks and finish the Tour without all the “what-ifs” that usually surround him! He seems like a genuinely nice guy and he’s certainly overdue a bit of good luck, so it might just be his year.

      If the Dauphine is anything to go by he’s not going to receive a lot of support from his teammates, so he’s going to have to do it all on his own like Tom Dumoulin did in the Giro.

      I’m still rooting for Froomey but Porte is a very close second.

      • I think these are the most controversial INRNG predictions ever…

        And the predictions are usually spot on… interesting. Safe bets would defo have Q above V, but don’t think F above A is that ridiculous – P & F as top two fair, even if many going with F out of habit…

        All signs are great tour in prospect…

      • Porte is looking good.
        But, if he was in Yellow, how much support can Caruso offer?

        My only, but major misgiving, is that he could be faced with multiple attacks from Landa / Thomas Froome, Valverde / Amador / Quintana, Aru / Fuglsang, Contador / Mollema, not to mention the other contenders.
        It looks overwhelming, when considered like that.
        The scope of strong contenders is wide and the breadth of tactical possibilities is even wider.
        BMC couldn’t defend him in a week race, what chance a 3 week Grand Tour?

        • Big mistake for BMC to leave Dennis out of the Tour team, really don’t understand that. Have heard he is a bit of a prickly personality though and not always a team player, so may have something to do with it.

          • Im also very surpirsed they didnt bring Sam Sanchez! Given how Froome was destroying everyone on the descents in the Dauphine, Sanchez could have been a huge help guiding him down if Froome attacks on the descent in the tdf (which he surely will)…

      • I agree with Adam, I hope Porte does not, nor anyone else, have bad luck and we get to see what they can do. I’m looking forward to it.

  1. Reading an interview with Richie Porte and it seems one positive change for him since leaving Sky is no longer going from race to training camp to race to training camp and so on. BMC have trusted him to relax and train and home as he knows the form he needs to be in at the start of big races, and so far this less intense approach seems to be paying off. It’s noteworthy that Porte’s best grand tour performances have come last year for BMC and back in 2010 when he was riding for Saxo Bank, so maybe it was Sky’s brutal training regimen that was holding him back rather than weaknesses in his own physiology?

    Also I’m not sure what you mean about Simon Yates’ form. Yes he had a quiet Dauphine, but he beat Porte on the Romandie queen stage to finish the race second, only losing out to the Aussie in the time trial, and before that won the GP Miguel Yndurain and a stage at Paris-Nice, so it looks like the forms’s there and hopefully he and/or Chaves can have a crack.

    • A good ride by Yates but in Romandie he was allowed to go because he didn’t seem to be a threat in the moment, similar in Paris-Nice. But if can sneak off again then all the better and with Chaves it’s more likely, the pair can hopefully play off each other.

      • True, but looking at the route the predominance of steeper climbs and lack of TT kilometres will suit the Chaves/Yates types more than the Froome/Porte type who prefer long grinding climbs and long grinding time trials.

        • Froome hardly fears steep climbs – he won on Planche des Belles Filles in 2012, Peña Cabarga in both 2011 and 2016, looked in good shape on the Mont du Chat a couple of weeks ago. He was also second on the Mur de Huy in 2015.

        • Didn’t seem to favour Chaves/Yates in Dauphine on Mont Du Chat?

          I’m not really sure where you’re getting this from Augie – Froome has proven himself many times on the steepest of the steep climbs – that monster climb he’s one twice in Spain (Cobo/Quintana) is a good example… didn’t see Chavez having the beating of him there.

          Think INRNG has long ago dispelled the assumptions that smaller riders have the advantage on steep climbs, INRNG has argued Q is assumed to be strong on the steep but is actually better on a consistent drag – despite his size being more of a diesel.

          From what I’ve seen Porte is similar.

          Froome is the one with the vicious kick which is usually most effective on steeper climbs, few others seem have his acceleration of steep or flat.

          • I wasn’t saying Froome was at a disadvantage, I’ve been watching him out-climb everyone for the past few years while Phil and Paul call Quintana “the best climber in the world”. What I was saying is that his advantage over the smaller guys would be less on the shorter climbs. In the Giro Adam Yates was talking about the difference between 30 and 50 minute efforts. I am convinced that ASO designed this tour with someone like Bardet in mind (hence the lack of TT kilometres), but was bringing up Simon Yates because I think he is on the right track to a good result, and possibly match his brother’s white jersey from last year.

  2. Looks like we could have an interesting Tour this year. Of course, I always believe that, and most often I’m wrong.

    I have the feeling that Porte will be the strongest rider, but somebody will outsmart him. But if I knew who, I’d pay a visit to a bookmaker…


      I expect Sky flatland attacks and short stage attacks to make up for their mis-steps in Vuelta previously. Don’t believe Froome will have made up the form gap in that time so will be getting creative.

      I also wonder whether Landa might bring in form to surprise some people… if Froome slips up would be interested to see what he could do.

  3. I so wanted to scroll down first without reading the piece, just to see who were our esteemed writers top picks. I’d like to see Fugsland podium. after that hopefully it will as open as a opened up thing and Dan Martin gets a stage win 🤘🍀

    • Froome seems onto his last week aggression these days. my personal assessment is that Froome is trying to hit his peak in the last ten days rather than the first ten, hence his modest results to date.

      don’t get me wrong, my pick is still Quintana, although he’ll need to ride more aggressively than ever to keep Froome at bay. i’d like to think Valverde will influence him to ride with an attitude instead of waiting for the last moment to strike hard.

      • “he’ll need to ride more aggressively … i’d like to think Valverde will influence him to ride with an attitude … .”

        maybe it was convoluted syntax or a translation error, what i was trying to convey was that because the Valverda/Quintana duo has been flummoxed by the late-strike tactic in the past, i hope that Valverde will help to influence Quintana to ride more aggressively earlier in the race.

        • I honestly don’t see how anyone could pick Quintana. He gains time on long climbs that end at the top of a mountain. In this Tour there is precisely ONE of those (Izoard). Even if Quintana wins that by a distance (something he never managed in the whole of the Giro) can he defend 19 other stages including two time trials and some fast descents with bonuses at the end? Can he do that with one of the most conservative team managements in the sport? He couldn’t beat a man who stopped to take a dump so what chance beating the best prepared GC field in the world? I don’t know exactly who will win but I’m 99.9% certain Quintana won’t.

  4. Not really bothered who wins, but Froomes rivals have their work cut out now that Sky and Trek have have formed an 18 man team!

  5. My pick is Fabio Aru. He has won the Vuelta, got podiums this year already and is very aggressive. He has to be the freshest of the aforementioned riders, maybe a bit young inside but he might run away with the trophy if indeed Quintana-Porte-Froome watch each other too much.

    • i have a hard time seeing Aru out riding Froome, Porte, Quintana, and Valverde, I think he’s just too young and/or inexperienced–probably a touch of long-term form building there too.

      when he won the Vuelta, it was only just and against a somewhat lack-luster crowd. he’s a great rider, no doubt about it, though i think his prime is still a couple years away.

  6. Roglic to be in yellow by the end of the first week. Good in short distance time trials and can climb well. However not enough experience to last three weeks.

    Letour for the white jersey and podium place (2/3). He is the real deal and just won the french ITT.

    • Yep was thinking about him too, this tour could be his big break. And then he signs a six figure contract with sky and we’ll never see him winning again…

  7. I don’t see Fuglsang keeping his Dauphiné form for three weeks.
    It’s like Talansky winning few years ago and then failing the TDF.
    Aru will be the Astana man, no doubt.

    • It might be my “Dannebrog-“tinted glasses doing my thinking for me.
      I do though have a problem with the Talansky comparison. Fuglsang won by out-climbing a class field, whilst Talansky won by hitting the right break. I agree that in both cases the two favourites spent too long looking at each other, but in 2014 that marked them both out, whereas in 2017 Froome actually made contact with the front-group before the last climb.
      Luck was definitely a factor, but it was more a class ride than anything else

  8. love seeing Mr INRNGs predictions, and on a Grand tour i look down to see the familiar names in a familiar order with the bottom row highlighting a few names I hadn’t thought of. This time round 4 chain rings to Fulsang, didn’t expect that. Hope he does well though.

    Can see Froome pulling away from Porte on one of those mountain descents!

  9. A surprising amount of unknowns before this edition.

    Is Chris Froome’s lack of wins just happenstance or the sign of something more significant? He didnt win the Dauphine primarily because of (for him) a poor time trial. Given how dominant he has been in TTs this was rather a surprise. Maybe with the rather unusual pair of shortish TTs in the Tour he has been concentrating his training efforts elsewhere, downhill riding perhaps. If so, especially given how strong Team Sky are, then he must be favourite, even if not quite so overwhelming so as the last couple of years.

    Richie Porte has been the strongest rider this year, that is not just mind games but pretty difficult to argue with. However that strength has not really translated into race wins. After January his sole victory came at Romandie where he didnt win a stage, he lost out in the crosswinds at Paris – Nice and was mugged through lack of team mates at the Dauphine. The issue seems to be that somehow events on the road happen to him rather than he being able to dictate what happens on the road. Not convinced he can manage to change this. I am also not convinced by the team, there already seems to be a defensive attitude. On the toughest climbs I dont think they have the strength of Sky or Movistar, leaving open the possibility of Richie Porte being isolated and vulnerable.

    Nairo Quintana is another mystery. All the vibes are positive. Talk of how he rides better in the second GT of the year. How he is well rested and recovered from the events of May. How Alejandro Valverde is ready to pitch in to help etc. His vulnerability, as always is outside of the mountains. Given the rather strange route there are likely to be a number of potential ambush points (crosswinds and storms on Stage 19?) and this, despite Valverde’s experience is where he could loose. There are too few stages like Blockhaus to let him ride away from the field.

    Fabio Aru looks in good condition and has clearly benefited from missing the Giro. Might be a good choice for an each way bet.

    Not sure any of the others are really competing for the top step. Romain Bardet perhaps, though again there is no evidence of top form. I cant see Alberto Contador going out with a win though maybe he might ride away to a stage win on the Izoard. Dan Martin might make the podium if one or more of the top choices runs into problems.

    As Inrng suggests Geraint Thomas might be one to watch especially if Chris Froome has a problem early on.

    • I agree – Aru podium is possibility. Especially as it could be a hard race, and we have seen him grow in strength during three week races.

      I think Landa is more likely to impress than GT should Froome have a problem.

      But in general yes – this is going to be a fascinating tour – so many unpredictables – I wouldn’t be surprised by Froome, Porte, Quintana, Fuglsang or Aru winning. Valverde and Contador would raise my eyebrow, not because of doping, just don’t see them climbing with the above. Similar with Bardet, Chavez and Yates. I would breath sharply if either Landa or GT won but not be lost for words.

      BIG QUESTION – Who would be the most shocking winner who has a genuine capability to win? I’m going to go out and say TALANSKY straight of the bat.

      Even more random…Tony Gallopin?

      • I’d say that’s a pretty lengthy list -basically anyone you might otherwise consider potential top 10-20 material. With the reduced emphasis on big mountain stages, there’s always the outside possibility that one of these is allowed to sneak into a break and take a chunk of time because the favourites don’t consider then a real danger, and then hangs on to limit losses better than expected in the mountains.

    • JC your points about Paris-Nice and The Dauphine are interesting and worth dwelling on. The takeaway for me is that Porte can be tactically mugged.

  10. Thanks INRNG as always for these insightful previews.

    Would you mind sharing a brief estimate on the KOM jersey in the comments below?

    I find the field seems more open than ever: Pinot, Rolland, Mollema, Gesink, Majka, Chaves, Izagirre maybe even?

    • I did think of doing a piece but it’s so wide open, it really depends on who goes in a breakaway here and there, especially on Stage 9 and 16… and whether they can get enough points to hold off the winner of Stage 18 with the double points on the Izoard. It’s guesswork predicting yellow, a complete lottery for the polka dots. Some good picks there, I’ve half assumed Majka will go for the KoM in the piece above, others include Landa, Barguil, Latour, Atapuma, Meintjes.

    • Disagree. The more the merrier. Better than Larry T & Gabriele hogging the lime light!

      *(Just to note Gabriele gives some great insight sometimes, it’s just whilst I have written long posts, I think I pale by comparison! I wish his posts came with a caveat ‘when Gabriele says facts, Gabriele mean carefully selected facts to support the argument Gabriele’s putting forward at any given moment’!)

      • This is so boring, not even amusing. You should read Gabriele like you should read any other commenter, i.e. forget who they are.
        If and when you find someone supports an argument by presenting carefully selected facts, it should be the simplest thing for you to show this by presenting at least one fact that doesn’t support the argument (and that by virtue of being obvious, undeniable et cetera would also prove or at least suggest that the commentator must intentionally and carefully have left it out.)
        But no, it is always the same old crap.

    • All readers, new and loyal, are most welcome to comment. Like all scenarios things can get more rowdy with a bigger crowd but hopefully the normally polite discussion and sharing of views can continue as usual, as it does 99% of the time in July and the rest of the year.

  11. Would love to see Porte win, but I think Froome will as his team is too strong.

    In order to avoid a repeat of what happened at the Dauphine, should Porte let Froome wear yellow early as Sky normally do and attack towards the end? Easier said than done obviously but it might be his best chance of winning. He seemed annoyed to be the man to beat and complained after the Dauphine that several teams didn’t want him to win and seemed more interested in him losing the race than them winning it. Like this, he can stay under the radar, a few seconds back from Froome and attack over the mountain stage and TT. Potentially dangerous tactics but he’s been the best climber all season, so if form is like at the Dauphine, Porte should still be dominant in the mountains and in the TT’s.

    • I think Porte would be mad to go in like that. Take the yellow jersey when it comes, never shirk – you’re always up for a fall by riding like that. Those are the tactics of a loser. You have to have confidence in your ability and take what comes, then own it. Getting too strategic means you’ll out think yourself and trip over – a la Schleck marking Contador in 2010 when he had the legs and should have been securing the Tour, few days later a mechanical and it’s all over. And we’ve seen it multiple times recently with people just following Froome when they should be braver. Winners take the jersey when ever it comes, losers worry it might be too soon.

      • A very rousing speech Duncan but it is why Froome has 3 yellow jerseys. He’s never afraid to take yellow when the chance comes and has a “Take it off me if you can” attitude.

  12. I don’t know about Porte. He reminds me the GVA of some years ago. He looks the strongest but at the end of the day does not win. Now, it is true that it is not like before when he seemed to vanish completely in Grand Tour when adverse circumstances.

    It is hard to see Valverde to win the Tour at his 37th, but this Tour seems to be made for him, both in terms of route and in terms of opponents and their current shape. But still…

    I hope Kontador will provide us with the usual fireworks, but now it really seems that age is paying his toll on him.

    Quintana did the Giro, so did Pinot. I think Bardet is too short for that.

    At the end of the day, it is difficult to go passed Froome, I think.

  13. Would love a race with all top 5 contenders consistently swapping places as per this years Giro. Would love someone “new” like Dan Martin to win. Also in an ideal world G makes the podium as recompense for this years Giro.

  14. Thank you Inrng for your most qualified prewievs.
    We’re all looking forward to this years TdF having great expectations – analyzing the riders and the teams, hoping for the biggest race ever. Me too!! But when you take a close look at the Sky train, you have to be realistic. You don’t have to be clayrevoiant to see they’ll control the race completely. Yes, we’ll have the intermezzos with the sprints and the short ITTs – but they will not have any influence on who will win this years TdF. All of the rest stages will be controlled by Sky – both on the flat and in the mountains. It’s in the mountains the minuts are taken and the race are decided, and maybe Quintana has Valverde, Bardet has Frank and Aru has Fuglsang – but they are only two and two and are looking at the backs of Henao, Landa, G and Froome = 4 great climbers!! I agree Richie Porte has been the strongest rider so far, but he’ll be alone when the hardball begins and we all know that something’s will occur when it comes to Porte. This years TdF will be a monster Sky-ride and CF will smile again.

  15. A couple of the commenters mentioned Landa…he did finish 2nd in the Spanish ITT nats, although he was a minute behind Castroviejo, and Valverde didn’t participate. Any significance in that? It seems that the TTs are too flat and the mountains aren’t high enough for him.

  16. I’m happy to see that INRNG is realistic about Alberto Contador’s chances. Alberto these days is more about pride than results. He misses the top step to riders he would have beaten a few years ago. Its now 2009 since he last won the Tour (2010 if you don’t mind asterisks). I cannot see him beating numerous of today’s top contenders. Top 5 would be a good result for him in this company. The clock only goes forwards and not backwards as some of his fans seem to keep hoping. The Dauphine seemed to go pretty badly for him to me regardless of PR excuses.

    But if Alberto won’t win then who will? I must concur with our host in that it will be the Sky man or the ex-Sky man, Froome or Porte. One has the experience and the other the current form. It will be decided in the execution though. I wonder if Sky have got smarter, as they did last year, and found yet more little ways to find seconds? They may not accrue much time this way but it all plays into the psychological battle. This, possibly, is where they might hope to get under Porte’s skin. He has never had to defend a jersey for weeks and some of his grand tour excursions, such as his aborted Giro attempt whilst at Sky, have been little short of disasters. He seems to find trouble. I wonder if he can be flawless for once and for 20 days in a row? I expect Sky to race aggressively and act as leaders even if they don’t have the jersey anyway. Their tactic since they’ve been winning the Tour is to get the jersey and then hold it, seemingly believing that its better to have it than not. A good ITT and a win on Planches des Belles Filles and it could be Froome slipping into yellow early on again. We know that Sky know how to defend it… assuming Froome is up to the job.

  17. I can’t believe how everyone, and I mean everyone, is discounting AC. He has looked sharp most of the year, though I agree he didn’t look very good in the Dauphine, but that was all part of the master plan!
    I also think everyone is nuts in discounting the gaps that will happen on stage 5. I predict Froome goes nuclear, and only AC and Porte can keep up, with AC piping Froome at the top. The Tour will then be a battle between those two, with them separated by seconds going into the final time trial, and Froome prevailing (boo!). Porte gets 3rd overall. Bardet is nowhere to be seen in final GC.
    Fantastic website, btw!

    • I share your astonishment about the lack of believe in AC’s chances. I think his preparation went perfect and he managed to keep his powder dry which he by his own admission rarely managed to do in other years.
      Here’s hope (once again although it sadly rarely materializes in the TdF) that none of the heavy hitters crashes out. And then we will see.
      I still don’t expect to see a great TdF on that strange course (featuring some obvious design failures from a race designer’s point of view) but maybe I err. I see Valverde, Fuglsang, Froome and maybe AC (if he descends well enough) fight for the win.

  18. What a list of players! Don’t remember such strong line up in TDF. You forgot about Majka (POL), plus Thomas. I’m almost sure that SKY will ride – as long as it’s possible – for 2 leaders (one of less importance) in case Froome breaks down/crashes.

  19. INRNG – may I ask – you give Valverde 4 chainrings, which suggests you distrust his assertion that he is riding “100%” for Quintana.

    I also distrust him, because he’s always just ‘there’ isn’t he (and you’re certainly right that the course really suits him) but your chainrings suggest a possible 3rd or 4th place. Seriously?

    The internal politics in that team must be excruciating!

    • The road will sort that out I think. On some of those strange stages Q might lose time and don’t forget the time boni which suit Valverde much better than any other GC contender.

  20. I can see Porte going all out from the start (TT and Planche) to mimic Sky/Froome’s strategy of their winning editions. To me that seems inevitable to prove himself to his team and to the opposition. Then we will see if he can defend it on the 3rd week, something Froome managed reasonably well but only with the help of a strong team, something BMC might not be. On the other hand, by the same reason, I can see Froome this year saving energies/building up form for the third week. I assume that could be one of the reasons for his (mild) lackluster performance in June.

    • If he does that I think it would be risky. BMC don’t look battle hardened to me. Team TT champs they may be many times over but in recent years they’ve not had to defend a jersey from all comers. In the Dauphine they were quite easily put to the sword when it counted and Porte lost a win he should have completed. Porte can win this race but he and BMC have to be very smart and use their resources wisely.

  21. Boy its so nice to read a comments section where people actually taking about the race and the riders.
    I have changed my mind about 5 times. But i’m going with Porte….or Froome…damn it!

  22. Valverde, I think, realises that he is past his best in terms of grand tours. I think he focused on the early part of the season, knowing that if his form was particularly good there he could win a lot of races whilst other riders weren’t strong.
    Fuglsang only won the Dauphine because riders were focused on others – same as Talansky a few years back.
    It’s looking like a two-horse race: Froome seems to lack the form, but usually comes good for the Tour. It’ll look decidedly dodgy if after all Sky’s travails the magic formula is missing this year. People say that Porte hasn’t proved himself over three weeks, but I think he did last year. But he’s also shown that he tends to lack courage and his downhill seems to be a weakness.

    • “It’ll look decidedly dodgy if after all Sky’s travails the magic formula is missing this year.”

      In some eyes. On the other hand, a lot of those same people would look at a Froome victory and say that being able to win despite all those distractions is clear evidence that he’s juiced.

      They really can’t win. Even if they win.

      Meanwhile, in the real world, win or lose is no real evidence either way as far as any doping is concerned.

  23. Very interesting take from Sylwester Szmyd: http://www.sylwesterszmyd.pl/?p=4292
    In the last two paragraphs, he says he has been riding recently with Nairo after can confirm that his last week’s crash in Giro really effected his final result. Finally he says, to translate directly: “Today I will only say, that I’ve seen many many riders, but “flying” up the hill as Nairo, with such easy and lightness, I’ve never before. I’ve my pick for July.”

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