Tour de France Teams Part I

22 Teams will start the Tour de France and in advance of previews for the yellow and green jerseys here’s a wider look at the other teams and riders in the race, this time on a team by team basis.

Lotto-Jumbo were the first to announce their eight riders for the Tour, deploying a lottery pick theme to reveal them one by one, disappointingly without the soundtrack of the Amazing Stroopwafel’s “Ik ga naar Frankrijk“. Eight riders, one fewer than last year and a significant change to notice. The Dutch squad is one of several with dual ambitions: they bring a sprinter in Dylan Groenewegen and have ambitions for the GC with Steven Kruijswijk and Primož Roglič. Groenewegen’s still not sprint A list but this is only a matter of time, possibly days and if he’s had a tendency to push a huge gear in the sprints he now seems on top of it and as he showed last year he can go all the way to Paris. He’ll have to cope with a reduced support but this is ok, he can count on the hulking Amund Grøndahl Jansen for a leadout and other teams like Quick Step and Dimension Data to toil and bring the breakaways back. Kruijswijk almost won the Giro but only has two pro wins to his name and in danger of being the subject of one of Het is Koers’s Vergeten Wielrenners, “forgotten riders” posts but he’s notionally their captain. But what about Roglič? He’s what the Australian’s call a “smokey” and any smokier and he’d be coughing in a jazz café. He’s having a great season and has won the last three stage races he’s entered, his home tour of Slovenia which sounds obvious but previously Romandie and the Tour of the Basque Country and in some manner. He could parry anything Egan Bernal tried in Romandie and Pais Vasco is the stage racer’s stage race, the win achieved when all his team mates had abandoned the race. On top of this Robert Gesink is there for stage hunting, fingers crossed. He had Lilian Calmejane in his sights for the stage win last year only to get cramps but if this sounds unlucky the next day he crashed going up the first climb out of Nantua and broke his back.

JANSEN Amund Grondahl, GESINK Robert, TOLHOEK Antwan

  • Goal: stage wins with Groenwegen in the opening week, well into the top-10 overall for Roglič
  • Ace: Groenwegen is on his way to becoming sprint royalty
  • Joker: Roglič

Ag2r La Mondiale are one of three World Tour teams without a win in the World Tour this year. It’s all about Romain Bardet and getting him on the podium again. He’s done it before, a coup d’audace in 2016, last year his coup de pédale in the mountains where he was climbing better than Chris Froome. It’s a proven strategy but a brittle one too, one hiccup for Bardet and the team will feel like seven orphans. But the riders are there to prevent these contre coups. Take Oliver Naesen who can shepherd Bardet over the cobbles and in the crosswinds and was instrumental last year in closing a gap late on Stage 16 last year when Bardet was caught out, towing the Frenchman and dropping him into place like a Tetris ace which was a big part of securing the podium finish. Silvan Dillier brings weight and expertise for the team time trial and the likes of Pierre Latour and Alexis Vuillermoz will lead for Bardet in the mountains. A year ago Ag2r were the only team taking the fight direct to Team Sky in the mountains, a rival train. Update: Frank is a late replacement for Geniez, Ag2r bring in a “diesel” climber but lose a versatile rider in Geniez, strong on the climbs but powerful on the flat too.


  • Goal: A stage win and podium finish for Bardet
  • Ace: Bardet can climb and descend and has the French media delecting his quotes
  • Joker: Latour, a jester who speaks to his legs and has a craving for Cruesli

Lotto-Soudal line up with two prime options. André Greipel is their house sprinter and he’ll turn 36 in July but still has winning ways, it was only two years ago he was so prolific. Still the competition is fierce so the team can hope for wins elsewhere with Thomas de Gendt the obvious pick for some breakaway stages but a word of caution, those hilly days he might have in mind are also when Peter Sagan needs to score points for the green jersey when other sprinters cannot so the fight to get in the breakaway could be even fiercer. There are more options, Jelle Vanendert is a stage winner in 2011 and Tiesj Benoot could strike, he has tried for the cobbled classics because he’s Flemish but if he was called Tieto Benotto or Thierry Benoît he might be more orientated towards hillier races suited to his lighter build.


  • Goal: a stage win, ideally with Greipel and then another from a breakaway
  • Ace: a hard pick as the team is more solid than sizzling but Greipel’s their strongest card
  • Joker: we expected the Schlecks, Evans or Contador but Vanendert won at the Plateau de Beille and has done little ever since and looked like a meteor who briefly burned bright but could he be a comet instead, he had a good Ardennes campaign this year

Groupama-FDJ won a stage with Arnaud Démare last year only for him to abandon before the race reached the Alps, taking several riders with him. Full marks for loyalty but it showed how the team has few riders capable of delivering big results. They’re back with Démare and a train in his service. With Thibaut Pinot recovering from pneumonia from the Giro Démare the prime leader with Arthur Vichot as a joker for hillier days. As we saw in the Tour de Suisse Vichot seems to have got his mojo back but transforming this into wins is another matter. The team bring David Gaudu, he of the 90 Vo2 Max and big French hope, but so far still an apprentice. Rudy Molard who picked off a stage win in Paris-Nice and should be good for a mountain breakaway. What’s of interest is also behind the scenes, the arrival of new sponsor Groupama brings beaucoup cash and so the team should be recruiting.


  • Goal: a stage win
  • Ace: Arnaud Démare is more of a classics roadman sprinter than a pure sprinter but give him a long stage, a hard drag uphill to the line and he can win one
  • Joker: Gaudu seems to be in because Pinot is out… but Pinot was a late pick in 2012 and took a memorable stage

Movistar bring the trident, a triple pronged attack of Alejandro Valverde, Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana. A sizeable proportion of worldwide downstream bandwidth has been written about this so there’s not much more to add beyond three observations. First Movistar are a cohesive team so if anyone can pull off multiple leadership, they can and this tactic is something to celebrate rather than hold up with a magnifying glass to observe for cracks. Second the road will decide, Quintana looks the best on paper but if, say, he loses minutes over the cobbles then he’s no longer the sharpest prong of El Tridente. Third Movistar are traditionally a tactically conservative team so even with three leaders primed for attacks don’t expect audacity. If we’ve got the trident then Marc Soler is the net, the rider tasked with containing rival moves.

AMADOR Andrey, BENNATI Daniele, ERVITI Imanol, LANDA Mikel, QUINTANA Nairo, ROJAS José Joaquín, SOLER Marc, VALVERDE Alejandro

  • Goal: the team prize? Just joking, the win is the big goal and there should be a mountain stage or two
  • Ace: say what you like about Alejandro Valverde (although this blog offers no safe harbour for libellous statements) but he’s like whisky, he seems to improve with age and plays a big role on the team as a captain
  • Joker: Landa, he’s best when he’s not the obvious leader but has room to attack

Quick Step have 43 wins and look set to add to this. Bob Jungels could be a GC contender one day but so far he’s not climbing fast enough to be in front group, he can aim to place high and take stages. The team’s big hope is Fernando Gaviria, winner of four stages and the points competition in the Giro last year and versatile to contend for the green jersey in the Tour. But first a stage win; he left Switzerland empty handed. Tim Declerq won’t hit the headlines, he’ll hit the front of the bunch and be one of the unsung workers of the race as he contains the day’s breakaway for Gaviria while Max Richeze is the lead out rider but there’s not much more of a train unless Niki Terpstra and Yves Lampaert are roped in. Otherwise Julian Alaphilippe and Philippe Gilbert will hunt for stages with Alaphilippe very likely to get something if he can stay crafty like he did in the Dauphiné rather than the restless legs ride in Paris-Nice.


  • Goal: stage wins galore
  • Ace: Fernando Gaviria, but can he handle the pressure and deliver?
  • Joker: Julian Alaphilippe for stage wins but will he try to hang on for a decent position on GC?

Wanty-Groupe Gobert: every year the Tour de France invites four teams from cycling’s second division, the Pro Continental circuit and to be blunt WGG were surely the last team to make the cut. This isn’t a slight, they’re simply a low budget Belgian team scratching around for wins and sponsors which explains their jersey looks like a textile version of Shinjuku. So if you like the underdog, these guys are your puppies and for them just starting the Tour de France is the biggest win of the season. One reason they got the wildcard is a talented Frenchman – take note Mr Delaney – Guillaume Martin, a good climber but still an outsider for a stage win while Yoann Offredo is a media magnet too, a career in TV might await. Ambitions are modest, the press release announcing their eight said Timothy Dupont was picked to help win the team prize on a sprint stage, they will hope that by finishing, say, 8th, 12th and 14th they can win the day’s team prize.


  • Goal: to be visible in the race
  • Ace: Guillaume Martin is the playwright with a masters in philosophy but longs to be the Tour stage winner
  • Joker: Andrea Pasqualon, handy in the uphill finishes, he’s just won the Tour of Luxembourg

Starlist over at

99 thoughts on “Tour de France Teams Part I”

  1. Thanks for the sublime jocularity and educated insights.
    We are only days away folks.
    Lets try and maintain some dignity on posts FGS.

    • Dignity? I’d say civility but this forum does pretty damn well in that regard, especially when compared to others. While I’d prefer Anonymous and his family go elsewhere so I don’t have to do as much scrolling down to skip their posts, in general this group seems like one that could truly sit around a bar and enjoy lively banter and debate without degenerating into the awful “You suck!” type stuff found elsewhere.
      I think we all owe Mr. Inrng a big thank you for this as pro cycling’s biggest show draws near?

  2. Be interesting to see how Lotto Soudal fare without their trusty handyman. Strange to see their grand tour lineup without Adam Hansen.

          • I am assuming it was ultimately his decision to end the streak? As can’t imagine sponsors of the team mind him tagging along with the additional publicity he gets due to his remarkable record.

            Or do you think decision was helped with the reduction in team sizes? I know from interviews you got impression he was past it now after setting as record which as you say is going to be pretty impossible to beat.

  3. Perhaps Movistar is planning a “team prize” approach to the yellow jersey, by taking the time of the best of their riders each day and adding them together for their “leader’s” time. Rider Movistar could win the yellow jersey by a mile, sorry several kilometres.

    • I think Movistar have made a mistake in their team selection when it comes to support riders. They have 3.5 captains (Marc Soler is hardly a true domestique..), leaving them with 4.5 domestiques, of which the minority have really a pedigree of being good in TTT or on the cobbles, which are certainly key stages. This might cost them dearly in the first week, going into the mountains with some gaps. Seems instead as if Valverde got his mates on the team…

      • Landa can’t time trial and Valverde isn’t quite there on the big hills – seriously they should just back Quintana and be done with it shouldn’t they?

      • Valverde will be OK on the cobbles. I assume Landa & Quintana will be supported by Erviti there.. who 2 years ago survived the break in P-R to finish in the top 10.

    • I agree. It seems they have (one of) the best bunch of riders but not the best team. They will strtuggle in the TTT and will not do too well in the ITT either. As INRNG points out their strategy may be something to celebrate but for it to work (unless Quintana is showing stronger than we have seen lately) they will need to be bold, and that would be a surprise.

  4. AG2R may have sneaked Bardet on the podium in 3rd place last year but it was by 1 second from a Sky domestique, Mikel Landa. So I find the comment that “Bardet was climbing better than Froome” strange. He made gains on one stage when Froome reportedly had fed badly. If this speaks in Bardet’s favour to some then I find it small beer. Given Bardet is already behind (on paper) in this Tour due to a TTT where his team will likely lose the 90 seconds they lost in the Dauphine to Sky and then add in a stage 20 31kms ITT and Bardet looks like he’d be needing north of 3.30 just to be on level terms. And he must make all that up with his fabled climbing and descending ability. Its much too big an ask and Bardet isn’t that much better than the rest.

    • Let’s make it a nicer experience in the next one + three weeks for everyone: you promise to refrain from (1) commenting on Bardet’s performance or chances, (2) mentioning his name and (3) making any reference to “a Frenchman” or “the AG2R captain”. In return I’ll do whatever you ask of me. I’ll even shut up for the duration if that is what it’ll take.

    • In all probability you are right, but at this stage it is ‘what if?’ And, given how Froome over turned a TT deficit, plus other time to win the Giro in mountain stages it’s not out of the realms of possibility.

      There are those of us who will dare to dream on that because the idea of it sounds nice.

      • @RQS

        Froome’s total ITT deficit in the Giro (to Dumoulin) was 50 seconds. Bardet would go to bed dreaming every night of such a small difference! But, actually, the Giro makes the point I was trying to make above but in another way. How many times before stage 19 of the Giro had we seen Froome do solo 80.3kms attacks? Never. Why? Because Froome wins grand tours by taking the jersey early (stage 3 TTT anyone?) and then DEFENDING it to the end. The Giro was the first time that plan was absolutely impossible and so he needed a new tactic. My point above, and again now, in answer to INRNG’s “Bardet was climbing better” (besides his actual gains being small beer) is that Froome was actually just carrying out his normal plan in last year’s Tour. He was defending a notional lead he knew the time trial on stage 20 would give him. Bardet claims 22 seconds on Peragudes but Froome claims 2 MINUTES in Marseille. Froome, as an opponent of Bardet in this Tour, can afford to do exactly the same thing in this Tour because that “on paper” theory abut Bardet’s likely deficits in time trials is not totally screwy but entirely probable.

        @Eskerrik Asko

        If I have points to make about Bardet I’m going to make them. In the race I expect to make less because he is not the threat to the win I think others will be. Feel free to pass over me if you only want opinions you like.

        • @RonDe

          If you gave points to make about Bardet you have made them a million times. Over and over again. In the same irksome and jarring manner.

          It is not a question of my wanting only opinions I like. To assume that, to actually think and believe that is a sure sign of surpreme I think I’ll leave it unsaid what I think it is but it is something very common among middle-aged men of a certain type.

          The problem as I see doesn’t go away by passing over a certain commentator – or even by trying to skip over all replies to his comments. No, the problem is that the water goes bad, so to speak.

          Please understand that although my little quip happened to be about you and Bardet my point was about every commentator (myself included) and the pet peeves, hobby horses and the particularly strongly and/ or often enough expressed opinions on this or that rider, team or subject.

          The discussion in Inner Ring’s comments would in my huble opinion benefit greatly if we all made a small effort to recognize out own blind spots and a slightly bigger effort to give certain subjects a rest, no matter how much we’d like to get the facts that everyone else gets wrong or fails to see straight or toremind everyone how right we were all along.

          • Point takeṇ. I’ll just add that I do find much of what RonDe writes both interesting and enjoyable to read and I have no desire to pass over his comments.

            I look forward to all three things: the race, the inrng blog entries *and* the comments.

            PS My one little wish is that each and every commentator would find or invent a name, a nick name or a pen name, use it and stick to it-.

          • Just a note that sometimes there are completely innocent reasons for changing names. I’ve been on this site for many years but under at least 3 different names, and I cant even remember what the first one was – which is the problem. One time, after not posting for a while I just completely forgot what username I was using for this site, so used another. Another time, I used a name which I had been using for a different site 🙂

        • I appreciate what you are putting in clinical terms, as I said, in all likelihood Bardet’s deficits from TTs is likely to prevent him from winning, but this blog is to generate excitement about the contest.

          Bardet has an outside chance. We can’t hope to see the road to Paris as it actually plays out before time. Where is the fun in that? Seeing Bardet win the TdF (on the basis that he is the most likely of French candidates) would be an amazing thing to see.

          To do what Froome did in the Giro is remarkable, but has never been outside the realms of possibility. In fact each I see people hypothesize the exact same scenario year after year as they hope their favourite does the exact same thing. Of the competitors at this year’s Giro only Froome could have contemplated that – and we shall see if we can dream of similar things for this TdF.

          The change from 9 to 8 may make July a harder place for a Grand-Toured our Froome.

      • Froome has won six grand tours. Bardet hasn’t won any. So why should we expect what the former, a true all-rounder, can do from the latter who isn’t?

        • At the risk of being zapped for arguing, Froome has won five tours. One remains undecided. Bardet is still younger than Froome was when the latter win his first GT. Froome is a champion GT racer who generally takes minutes out of riders like Bardet in TTs. However, to me Bardet’s ride at Strade Bianchi this year shows him as no less an all-rounder. I’m just hoping the first nine stages play a greater part in deciding the race than the TT, or worse still, the TTT. Climbing and TT are part of being an all-rounder, but I’d like to see more versatility required for a change. The future is uncertain, but the end is always near.

          • Froome is a big outlier among GT champions for how old he was when he won his first GT – only Indurain is comparable. Bardet isn’t just a mediocre time trialist, he’s borderline disastrous. And he’s now about to reach the point where the next generation coming up behind – Bernal etc – is going to start seriously contending if not right now then in a year or two. Plus there’s Doom if a TDF ever has serious TT kms again, as well as Q who’s better than Bardet at climbing + TT. I’d think it’s more likely than not he winds up with no GTs.

            Get bike racer of course, already a very solid one-day palmares, the successor to Nibali in that regard. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up with multiple monuments. Actually you’d think the more classics-ish nature of the Giro but unlike Pinot he seems very focused on only the Tour.

          • It’s probably of passing interest at best, but of the 27 first-time GT winners since 1990, ten were younger than Froome (28 when he won the TdF in 2013), three others were also 28, and 17 were older. However, among those who have won more than one GT, four were younger, one other was also 28, and two were older when they won their first. Only Heras, Contador, Nibali and Froome have won more than two since 1990, and they were 26, 24, 25 and 28 respectively when they won their first.
            Given their relative ages, which make direct comparisons somewhat irrelevant, at least to me, I still think Bardet will surpass Froome before Bernal surpasses Bardet, as long as all keep racing a few more years…

    • I knew you would immediately gonna switch from Pinot bashing to another one, after he cancelled his start. Little Ronny is so predictable.

  5. TLJ’s Amund Grøndahl Jansen is touted as the next Norwian monument winner. I give you an ø and an Ø for your much appreciated efforts, inrng.

  6. Who would like to guess where Quintana, Landa and Valverde actually finish? I’m guessing none of them in the top 3. Having options is nothing if they are not adventurously deployed.

    • The weirdness of last year aside, Quintana typically gets on the podium even when he’s ill. He’s the most naturally gifted GC cyclist in the peloton who’s never won the TdF. (Dumoulin hasn’t yet delivered against his rivals when they’re in top shape, and Porte I think has no more than one GT win in him.) Quintana, Landa and Valverde haven’t done a GT since the last TdF though, they might pay for that (unless they’ve made big changes to how they train… Landa might have passed on some Sky secrets, perhaps?).

    • I imagine you’re probably thinking about Tarzan winning stage 8. Calmejane rode for Direct Energie.

  7. For me the first hurdle for any team with GC ambitions is to be in contention after stage 9. Measured against that I am unconvinced by either Movistar or AG2R.

    I feel there has been far too much media chat from Movistar, much of it defensive. The team selection seems odd, I thought Jasha Sütterlin was a nailed on pick given how important the TTT is but no. It is all too easy to imagine a situation where Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa find themselves 2 minutes plus down before they hit the alps, does that really mean Alejandro Valverde will be the team leader? Something doesnt quite add up.

    As for AG2R, INRNG sums it up nicely, aiming for the podium, is that really good enough for France’s leading team?

    I thought Fernando Gavira was a serious contender for the green jersey, Quickstep will back him up by ensuring Peter Sagan cant just mop intermediate sprint points and he looks a better sprinter for the bunch gallops. However he was disappointing at the Tour de Suisse, not sure he can come good under the intense scrutiny in France.

    • As per also J Evans point below, I feel that the more conservative ambitions / approach of AG2R and Movistar could pay dividends this year.
      Froome is in, if not unchartered waters, then recently unnavigable ones, in attempting the Giro / Tour double.
      If he falls away, Team Sky have Thomas as the most likely back-up.
      A very good lieutenant but also hitherto prone to a jour sans where he could lose any TT / flat / cobbles gains in one huge bite.

      Of course there is Porte to consider in the GC equation.
      It would be hugely ironic if BMC were to eclipse Team Sky, thereby casting into shadow the plans of Movistar and AG2R.

      Having said all of this, I would hope that they can both be aggressive and take the race to their rivals. You want to see the *best* team deliver their rider to the win, not the most careful.

    • Prior to Stage 9’s potential mayhem, any rider or team with GC ambitions first need to survive in the TTT on Stage 3! SKY and BMC will have minutes on majority of riders who can hurt them in the latter stages.

  8. Still seems odd that WGG were chosen over Coquard’s team: they’re a more established team, but lacking any rider, it seems, who could enliven the race.
    It’s hard to see the Movistar guys not losing a bundle of time in both the TTT and Stage 9 – they seem to have learned nothing from previous TdFs where they lost time on flat stages. And they’ll be praying there isn’t wind on any of the other flat stages.
    Castroviejo could prove to be Sky’s best purchase of last year – depriving Movistar of him is like a double hit. Losing him and Dowsett, and then not picking Sutterlin or buying another flat/TT specialist seems typical of Movistar’s one dimensional tactics. It’s all for the mountains, but then they so rarely attack in them.
    It would seem that only injury or fatigue (and after the Giro, the latter is not looking likely) can stop Froome winning this – the most complete rider with the most complete team, the other favourites all have specific weaknesses.
    Plus the final week is considerably easier than the second week, with only one summit finish, which should be helpful in terms of fatigue – and then there’s the ITT.

    • I disagree, WGG were excellent last year. Always visible in breaks and Guillaume Martin is a real talent. They had 9 people who had never ridden a GT before but they coped fine. Coquard’s team have done nothing this season to make me think they deserve a spot. Having said that, neither have Barguil’s team.

      • Le Coq has done little this season, but ASO didn’t know that was going to happen when they announced the wildcards in January – that’s why I think it was odd. As it has turned out, WGG probably have ended up being the better choice: as you mention, they have Martin and Van Keirsbulck is a possibility for the cobbled stage, although he hasn’t shone this season.
        Being visible in breaks isn’t, in my view, adding much to the race: there is this supposed truism that someone has to do it, but actually on the rare occasions where no team does it the stage is often fascinating. And I’m not sure that watching a no-hope break and a peloton on a windless, featureless flat day is any more entertaining than watching it without the break.

        • You’re still doing Wanty a disservice. They are an attacking team. They truly animate races all year long, not simply making up the numbers in no-hope breaks ‘animating’ the race.

          This will not be as obvious in the Tour because the quality of riders is so high but there is a far better chance of Martin or someone else on this team doing it than any other available wildcard.

    • The thing against Coquard is he is in a first year team as pointed out by someone on Twitter. ASO don’t let new teams immediately loose on the Tour.

    • I’ve been thinking that Froome’s Giro ride must increase the risk that he’s fatigued rather than prove the opposite. Of course I understand that everyone has him as favorite, but I think I’m right in saying that it’s only Merckx who has *ever* won 4 GTs back to back and I feel that fact’s being discounted.
      Froome’s proved over and over that he’s a special rider, but is it a bottomless pit of special?

      As it happens, I’m Australian and my smokey is also Roglič.., get in now at 22/1 before inrng’s mention whittles them odds down 😉

      • It was only Merckx, and the increasingly bitter and twisted Hinault, who had ever won three in a row. But Froome did that. Of course, you are right to say that the special doesn’t go on forever. But it only needs to go on for three more weeks in July and, as J Evans perfectly points out, week two of the Tour actually looks harder than week three meaning that Froome might be able to get his week done and then hang on in defensive mode as we are by now all used to. (What that flat stage is doing there in the middle of week three is anybody’s guess.) I’m not prepared to say Froome will definitely win but the facts show him to be a rider unmatched in grand tours in the current peloton so we should expect the unexpected from him. Or perhaps he just dies as Nairo did last year. Its only something we shall find out day to day.

        • “Froome might be able to get his week done and then hang on in defensive mode as we are by now all used to. ” Now THERE’s the exciting scenario that’ll put pro cycling back on the general pubic’s must-watch list! While I’m more than ever “anybody but you-know-who” I’d like to see an exciting race for a change. While LeTour is certainly a victim of its own outsized place in pro cycling, too often it’s a race raced not-too-lose rather than to win.
          I watched a feature on Alfredo Binda on Italian TV the other day and thought perhaps ASO should pay Mr. Froome the 1st prize money to skip the race? 🙂

          • what an odd sport that would be, paying the best off to not compete at the big event… surely the solution is to encourage the podium and top10 sitters to take risks (ie stop rewarding for finishing 7th or whatever).
            Imagine FIFA asking the Germans not to turn up for the next World Cup because they are a bit too efficient (ok bad example in the light of recent events…)

          • Your sarcasm is expected Larry but your logic is faulty. Tell me exactly what events at the upcoming Tour WOULD “put pro cycling back on the general pubic’s must-watch list”? I submit to you that nothing would because those who like cycling are going to watch and those who don’t aren’t. Your argument, if that’s what it is, is thus redundant.

            PS Froome is that guy who in the last grand tour won from an 80.3kms breakaway when everyone thought he was dead. Surely he gets to dine out on that for a bit longer than four or five weeks?

        • RonDe – I think there’s a list of things that could be done to get the general public interested in cycling again. 1st would be to adjudicate things like the current Froome mess in a reasonable amount of time. 2nd would be to get rid of the TUE’s and other excuses that let riders use PED’s. 3rd could be getting rid of the World/Pro/whatever tour so more teams of local interest could take part.
          Having a guy (no matter what his name is) mowing ’em down in the crono and defending in the mountains will NOT do it. It’s dull, dull, dull.
          It’s pretty easy to be one of the “cycling is exciting when my guy is winning” crowd but when the same guy wins year after year, it also gets dull. It was dull when BigMig was doing it and again with BigTex…and now with Il Frullatore. This combined with his AAF (or whatever you want to call it) is why I’m ANYBODY but Froome this time round. At least if a guy like BigTom mows ’em down in the crono it’ll be a different (and so far unsullied by doping) face on the top step in Paris after a dull race.

          • As always Larry, your posts are as interesting for who you don’t mention as for who you do. No expectations of Nibali in this race?

          • I’d say that the TTs in the Giro the last two years have actually made the race. Particularly this years edition was so good because the TT loomed over Yates so he attacked at every opportunity. Hopefully nag for more of the same.
            Think it’s more a case of too many riders being happy to protect their podium or top 10 in the Tour – Quintana, Bardet, Porte, Uran, Landa need to lay it on the line now… win or die trying.
            Also think the parcours this year will make a defensive approach harder – how do you defend on stage 9 or 17? Then there’s the cobble fatigue factor on stages 10 – 12.
            I’m glass half full on this years Tour 🍺

          • RonDe – I try not to have expectations but rather hopes. So I hope Nibali can do well and best-of-all make a real race of it rather than riding around trying not to lose. He looked pretty good on Saturday, seemingly riding well within himself while helping various teammates attempt to take the tricolore. I also hope that if ASO fails in their attempts to keep Froome from sullying LeTour that he’s a non-factor. But it’s all hope rather than expectation.

      • It is unusual that Quintana riding 3 GT’s in a row looked a shadow of himself. Froome on other hand has won 3 in a row (on the road at least). Just an observation.

      • Yes, but with a team containing people who are better at TTs than the riders they have in this team.
        In the last few years, they had Castroviejo, Dowsett, Malori. This year, they have a surfeit of climbers.

        • True, but still Amador, Valverde and Soler are no slouches on the TT bike. I don’t think their chances will be undone by the TTT, nor by the cobbles for that matter.

  9. The reduced team size and three leaders could play havoc with Movistar’s typical “put at least one, preferably two, riders in the break on every hilly stage and hope this results in a win somehow” tactic”, as who will be left to set pace and fetch bottles?

  10. Roglič is not going for a GC this year. He is targeting a stage win and learning.
    All that said, if he’s in a good position after the cobbles, who knows, learning by doing?

  11. I think the cobbled stage will be more important than anyone thinks given QuickStep look set to blow the race apart, Jungels can cope better then the climbers they will surely go for stage win and big gaps can apear.

    Big thanks to inrng, always a pleasure to read your reviews.

      • Bora could similarly make the claim that ONE of their riders could conceivably win the first 9 stages….

        Unlikely, of course, but Sagan has to be hot favourite for some of these as there will no split loyalties and absolutely no questions about who’s boss.

    • Its not QuickStep who could rip the race apart on the cobbles stage, they only have the second strongest cobbles team. It’s a Sky – Quickstep combination that could rip the race appart – just look at talent they have: Moscon, Thomas, Kwait and Rowe – all capable of hitting a top 10 in PR. They could even have had Stannard in there. Surely if they worked together and gifter QS the stage win they could split the field early and end up with a 20min lead! It would probably result in Froome being dropped though but it would be well worth it.

          • I think in Moscon’s case, with the racism rap and World Champs DQ he has a little more PR wood to chop….
            Reichenbach needs to focus on his descending.

          • Not because of a lack of evidence but because there was not a single rider among those who were there who would’ve backed Reichenbach’s version. (One can argue that no one dare stand up against the mighty Sky team, but that’s not “a lack of evidence”.)

            On the other hand there was one rider who did witness and according to whose testimony he didnät notice either anything untoward taking place or any reaction among the other riders to suggest that they would’ve thought something unusual had taken place. (One can argue that an Italian rider would come to the rescue of his compatriot and friend, but that isn’t “a lack of evidence”, either.)

  12. The days Dylan Groenewegen not being an A-list sprinter are over to me, or does he first has to win multiple GT stages?? You’re saying he can count on Amund Grøndahl Jansen, but don’t forget Timo Roosen, he’s also doing a great job this year!!

    And Movistar, three leaders?? What can not go wrong there…….poor Mikel Landa.

  13. Agree with most of the analysis (much appreciated as always!), but fully agree with Erik that Groenewegen is 100% an A-list sprinter these days. Stage win in the TdF last year, winner of Kuurne – Brussels – Kuurne, and essentially winner of every single sprint he’s contested this year. If anything he’s the man to beat in the flat sprint stages.

    Also think Benoot is deserving of a bigger shout-out. He’s already shifted his focus to more ‘hilly’ races this year, and his win in the Strade Bianche was heroic. Definitely think he has a bigger chance to win a stage than Greipel for Lotto Soudal. Or potentially the white jersey if he decides to focus on the GC.

    • With Groenwegen, I rate him highly these days. But he’s still not the “household name” among more casual fans outside of the Netherlands. Up to him to deliver this July and the sprints in the first week should be fun.

      • Agreed also about Groenwegen.
        The sprint wins could really be dished around the various contenders and Sagan could have a tough job getting in the final mix in these.
        The Green Jersey battle will be a very interesting sub-plot but that’s for a separate article (looking forward to it tremendously, thanks Inrng).

        • With so many top-contenders and both jerseys on offer at the finish line in the first few days I imagine the sprints will be carnage. Not all of that sprint royalty will make it past the first two days either through crashes or DQ’s. QS seem best fit to boss the lead-outs and guide Gaviria to the front but that’s no guarantee for wins of course.

    • Absolutely agree with Simmers about both Groenewegen and Benoot – his Strade Bianche ride is possibly my favourite performance of the year. Not sure he’ll go for GC, but will have the freedom for stage hunting.

  14. I think Movistar are somewhat forced to bet on a strategy that gives them a chance of success if the race plays out in their favour. If Froome survives the first nine stages more or less intact none of their trident is likely to distance him afterwards, no matter how well supported by domestiques. If Froome falters on the cobbles one or two of Quintana, Landa and Valverde probably will too, but if one remains in contention they have a strong chance against the likes of Thomas, Porte, Bardet and Uran (in no particular order). That’s the best chance they have, so they’ve backed it. I just hope we come out of stage nine with a fair level of disarray, rather than whoever fared best in the TTT still sitting on their lead from it…

    • You make good points but they only end up making you scratch your head at Movistar’s tactics. They are going to lose time in the TTT to BMC and Sky. I’d say even up to 1 minute. In the first 9 days there are numerous flat or bumpy stages in which there is potential for splits or mishaps and then they must, somehow, navigate stage 9 and the cobbles without a recognised cobble specialist amongst them (although I grant Valverde would be ok). If any GC contenders are going to be in trouble before the mountains you would imagine it would be Movistar’s. They then in the 2nd week, which is the major climbing week, have to make gains which claw back any losses and build gains for the 31kms ITT on stage 20 in which, once more, Quinata and Landa at least will be vulnerable. And all this is based on the idea that Movistar suddenly become a cogent attacking team who take chances rather than hope that the win falls in their lap. Its as if just by having multiple options they think that is enough. But they are only doing that because backing their best hope, Quintana, has constantly failed.

  15. I’m excited to see what Roglic can do. His form this year has been stunning. maybe this year is not the right time due to the lack of ITT miles but he seems to be climbing exceptionally well too. the lineup is very strong (when isn’t it at the tour?) so he may struggle to impose himself on the race but I think a top 10 is eminently possible.

    as for the rest, I think it will all come down to how strong quintana is in the high mountains. it is literally his only weapon so if he can’t jump away and take big time he will not win the race. he may get a podium but, as at the giro last year, his goal is the win alone.

    • Quintana’s problem is the same as Bardet’s problem that RonDe talks about above. How much will he have to make up even to be on level terms after the time trials are deducted?

  16. Quickstep’s team seems a little unbalanced also. Is Declercq expected to drop back for the bottles whilst also riding the front for 100kms… who’s setting who up on the Mur de Bretange etc etc…?

    having said all that they could really blow things apart on the cobbles/windy days. If Jungels has got some climbing legs together he could get deep into the top 10 if that happens…

  17. I really fancy Roglic for a podium and I think he has all the attributes to actually win it, which doesn’t mean I think he will. He isn’t going to lose time in time trials, and the hilly final time trial actually really suits him. And though he isn’t going to be the best climber in the race he has shown that he can hang with them best in the mountains when he needs to, most notably at Pais Vasco and his stage win in the Tour last year. Plus he has enough engines to get him through the TTT (should they have picked van Emden though?) and being Dutch shouldn’t be caught out in cross winds in the first week. He reminds me hugely of serial 90’s Giro contender Pavel Tonkov with his fairly square shouldered, muscular build (by cycling standards), large thighs, relatively low cadence and proficiency in time trials. Not to mention the perma grimace and dark hair.

  18. Nairo Quintana vs Mikel Landa.

    GC/stage races both have competed in: 18
    16/18 Quintana finished higher than Landa
    2/18 Landa finished higher than Quintana (Itzulia 2018, Tour 2017)

    ITTs both have competed in: 7
    7/7 Quintana has finished higher than Landa.

    Nairo Quintana vs Alejandro Valverde.
    GC/stage races both have competed in: 8
    5/8 Quintana has finished higher than Valverde
    3/8 Valverde has finished higher than Quintana (2018 Catalunya, 2013 Andalucia, 2012 Vuelta)

    ITTs both have competed in: 6
    5/6 Valverde has finished higher than Quintana
    1/6 Quintana has finished higher than Valverde (Tour 2016)

    Source: Procyclingstats

  19. is the Thomas ‘jour sans’ theory based on the one time he went from 4th to 15th in the 2015 Tour?
    Any evidence of him doing similar before or after (or no evidence either way because he’s always been on domestique duties otherwise?)

    Similar question with Richie Porte, or is it really more about doubts that either of them can stay out of trouble for a whole Tour rather than run out of steam?

  20. I am thinking that perhaps the cobbled stages will play a big factor in the GC, but Froome is relentless, so depending on how much time he loses in the cobbles the race could get more interesting with Froome behind trying to pass everyone.

  21. Movistar is the most intriguing team. They have five riders capable of knocking down stage wins, chasing the KoM and point jerseys, and animating the race as a whole.

    As for the GC, hopefully after a disasterous TTYL and cobbled stage, they will abandon that chase and go for it.

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