Who will win the 2017 Tour de France? Yellow jersey contenders
The Tour de France starts on Saturday. Someone’s going to win the overall. Who?
Let’s take a look at the runners and riders.
Chris Froome – Team Sky
The only runner in this list hasn’t been his usual dominant self of late, winning all of no-races-whatsoever so far this season. He’s still the man to beat though, even if this year’s route is short on the mountaintop finishes that suit Team Sky’s fun-sucking strategy of total control.
Richie Porte – BMC
Froome’s angry Tasmanian former wing man has gone it alone in the black and red of BMC and is, according to the bookies, the man most likely to topple his former team-mate. If he weren’t so committed to living out a nightmare on at least one stage of every grand tour, this would certainly be a fair assessment. Porte is very much the “on paper” contender.
Alejandro Valverde/Nairo Quintana – Movistar
Movistar arrive with their usual bet-hedging double act. Quintana normally aims for the Tour and ends up on the lower steps of the podium. This year he aimed for the Giro d’Italia and ended up on the lower steps of the podium. You wouldn’t imagine that was ideal preparation for a second three-week race a month or so later, but stranger things have happened. For example, Alejandro Valverde is winning more in his mid-thirties than he ever has before. Doubt this’ll extend to the Tour though.
Alberto Contador – Trek-Segafredo
The Spaniard is aiming to arrive at the race “fresh”. This is a relative term as no-one’s turning up for three weeks of racing feeling kind of tired but hoping nobody will notice. Form is always a trade-off between fitness and fatigue and Contador is trying a different balance. However, if he still ends up performing how he has the last couple of years, we’ll have to conclude that he hasn’t been sipping from Valverde’s elixir of youth and maybe his best days are behind him.
Fabio Aru/Jakob Fuglsang – Astana
Aru always looks like a man who wants to ride harder than his body is able. He can climb though and has an advantage over some rivals in that team-mate Fuglsang is probably just as likely to do well. The two of them will be able to take it in turns not chasing each other, leaving others to do the work – as they did in The Dolphin. Never forget, it’s easier to ride behind someone else.
Romain Bardet – AG2R
The French have pretty much all of their eggs in the Bardet basket this year – and to be fair, he did finish second last time around. He may look fragile, but Bardet will match everyone uphill and seems disconcertingly unconcerned about his own wellbeing when going downhill.
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) has already raced the Giro this year. Unless there’s bullshittery afoot, he’s not aiming to do well overall.
Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) has visited a grand tour podium before now but hasn’t seemed particularly good at bike racing so far this year. He’ll be able to work with team-mate Simon Yates though. This isn’t last year’s Tour de France Yates, by the way, it’s the other one – but they’re still pretty indistinguishable in how they go about their business, so don’t worry about it.
Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa (Sky) offer luxury support for Froome. While the Welshman will most likely be backup team leader, his training’s been scrappy after peaking for the Giro only to be almost immediately taken out by the filth.
Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) is tremendous fun on a steep incline and greatly underrated as a grand tour rider.
Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) normally wins the mountains classification despite being tired from the Giro. He didn’t do the Italian race this year, so I don’t see why he shouldn’t take aim at the general classification instead.
Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) seems to be out of fashion for these previews but still exists.