Ineos Grenadiers will embark on an incredibly talented squad that will include three former Grand Tour winners, while other previous Tour winners and podiums will also be imagined over the three weeks.With less than a fortnight before the start of the Tour, we decided to assess the chances of a small group of team leaders.
UAE Team Emirates : Tadej Pogacar – 5/5
Unless there was a stage of the Tour of the Basque Country in April which was more a case of bad teamwork than anything else, the defending champion was not really wrong in 2021.
The 22-year-old has won the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and more recently the Tour of Slovenia, while also winning his first Monument in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
His day – and it always seems to be his day – he looks unbeatable, and one thing is certain is that he will arrive on the Tour after having done meticulous preparation. The defending champion and the big favorite.
Jumbo-Visma: Primoż Roglič – 5/5
Everything was going so well for Roglič in last year’s Tour until that fateful stage 20 time trial, but the way the Slovenian bounced back to winning the Vuelta a España suggests he didn’t was not marked by this afternoon at La Planche des Belles. Girls.
The 31-year-old hasn’t driven much in 2021, instead preferring to train hard at altitude and on training camps.
However, he won the Tour du Pays Basque in April and would also have won a Paris-Nice which he dominated before falling in the last stage. It’s hard not to classify him as the rider most likely to deny Pogacar.
Ineos Grenadiers : Geraint Thomas – 4/5
The official line is that Ineos Grenadiers will enter the race with a three-pronged attack from Geraint Thomas, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Richard Carapaz.
The reality, however, is that the road will really decide, as the saying goes, although it is widely expected that former Giro d’Italia winners Geoghegan Hart and Carapaz will ride to support 2018 winner Thomas.
So far 2021 has been a solid year for Thomas, with the Welshman winning the Tour de Romandie and finishing third in the Volta a Catalunya and the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Also backed by Richie Porte, winner of this last race, Thomas looks at his best since winning the yellow jersey three years ago and will undoubtedly be the rider Roglič and Pogacar fear the most.
Groupama -FDJ: David Gaudu -3/5
The next French hope is the young David Gaudu who has taken great strides again this season to realize his potential.
The 24-year-old won a dramatic stage in the Tour du Pays Basque and finished third at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
He will share leadership roles with sprinter Arnaud Démare and will not have numbers to rely on in the mountains, but he could certainly go under the radar and fight for a podium.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step : Julian Alaphilippe – 3/5
Since Alaphilippe nearly won the Tour in 2019, he has immediately become a favorite in all the stage races he competes in and the 2021 Tour will be no different.
The yellow on the shoulders of the world champion suits him so well and he has demonstrated time and time again that he is capable of climbing with the best, winning hard-hitting stages and surpassing pure time trials – most recently presented at the Tour de Suisse.
He will try to minimize his chances, and chances are he won’t win, but you should never rule Alaphilippe out.
EF Education – Nippo: Rigoberto Urán – 2/5
When Rigoberto Urán surprisingly destroyed the Tour de Suisse time trial last weekend, he made the cycling world react.
Second in the 2017 Tour, Urán was not considered a favorite for the Tour until his performance in Switzerland, a fact that even his team admitted.
The Colombian has always climbed well and been consistent in the overall standings and his recent performances indicate he is peaking at just the right time.
Movistar: Alejandro Valverde – 1/5
He’s 41 years old and yet he still rides like he’s half his age. Alejandro Valverde will start his last Tour before retiring at the head of a Movistar team which also includes a fit Miguel Ángel López.
Valverde, however, is likely to be the absolute leader and his recent form suggests he could face a title challenge.
The former world champion won a stage at the Critérium du Dauphiné and impressed in the spring in numerous races, suggesting that a bad 2020 by his standards was not the end of his spectacular career.
If Valverde falters in the Tour, Movistar could also look to fellow Spaniards Marc Soler and Enric Mas, although the duo are likely more likely to aim for stage wins.
Team Arkéa-Samsic: Nairo Quintana – 1/5
Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020 appeared to hit Nairo Quintana more than most given his return to form last spring.
This time around, however, the Colombian looks far from the pace and it would be very surprising if the former Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España winner took on a serious yellow jersey challenge.
Yet it is Quintana and when it climbs as best it can, there are very few in the world who can match it.
Bora-hansgrohe : Wilco Kelderman – 1/5
Kelderman wore the pink Giro d’Italia jersey in two of the final stages of the Grand Tour of Italy last fall, but ultimately had to settle for third place on the podium.
The truth is, he never seemed comfortable in the lead and no one expected him to win, and while that might be a harsh judgment for a climber as stable and consistent as most , this reflects its lack of punch and aggressiveness.
Other than three time trial wins, he’s never won a road race, and while Egan Bernal showed in 2019 that you don’t have to win a stage to win the Tour, it seems far away that Kelderman could imitate Bernal’s tactics. Nevertheless, a podium is not to be neglected.
Damiano Caruso’s unusual second place at the Giro d’Italia reminded us that three weeks of racing are never easy to predict and that there is always a dark horse lurking.
It is Caruso’s Bahrain-Victorious team that has a number of surprise contenders, their squad stacked with an overall ranking potential that so far has failed to reach the highest of the peaks. Wout Poels has a history, Matej Mohorič is a dangerous asset in the mountains, Australian Jack Haig is a constant figure in weeklong stage races, Pello Bilbao emerged from obscurity in his early 30s to be one of the Spanish leaders in the past year, and Mark Padun has just entered the Critérium du Dauphiné with two victories in as many days.
Elsewhere, Vincenzo Nibali will aim to put a disappointing injury-stricken Giro d’Italia, while only a few years ago Jakob Fugslang was considered a major GC player.
The BikeExchange team insists they are aiming for stage wins with Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates both seeing the Olympics as a higher priority. But if they are high in the overall standings after 10 days, they’re not going to sacrifice a potential opportunity to win yellow.