Tour de France Overall Preview
Geraint Thomas & Egan Bernal
The defending champion and his team, last year Geraint Thomas finally unleashed his long overdue GC potential and won the Tour with a confident posture, never looking in real trouble in front of his rivals and having unmatched team support. This year his preparation has almost been ideal, after a big off-season the Welsh slowly came into form which he showed in Romandie, and everything was in due schedule until a crash on the Tour de Suisse. Despite not being injured he lost the racing days and may come into the race undercooked, the route doesn't suit him as well as last year but climbing is not a fragility of his and with a very strong INEOS he is the main favourite to win the race.
On the other side, his teammate Egan Bernal comes across as the other main favourite. Surely other riders will be able to top one of them, but the signs the Colombian has given this season are ideal, winning the Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse in confident fashion, the Colombian debuted in the Tour last season and showed tremendous climbing ability and consistency despite his young age, this year he comes as co-leader of the team, Thomas is the priority of the team but there's no doubt that Bernal can be the key to how the race unfolds. Despite not having Froome in the team INEOS is nowhere near being fragile, with a team support unmatched and great form by their domestiques, the British squad is the one that focuses the most on this race and they will be looking to conquer another edition of the Grand Boucle.
Main Domestiques: Wout Poels, Michal Kwiatkowski.
In the hotseat of the riders looking to dethrone the INEOS dominance may very well be the Dane, Jakob Fuglsang has been a GC contender for many years but has been long rated a 1-week specialist but he has a history of strong rides in Grand Tours, but his climbing has never been as it's been this year. He's a power climber, able to ride the hills very strongly and is one of the climbers that enjoys the harsh weather the most, this season he's been nothing but brilliant, being a highlight in every race he's been a part of, winning in the meantime the Vuelta a Andalucia, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Criterium du Dauphiné. Alone, these results and his consistency would put him up in the ranks but the way Astana have been riding this year is as impressive, and he's coming with a team fully focused in him with superb mountain firepower behind him that is also very well organized.
Main Domestiques: Pello Bilbao, Alexey Lutsenko, Gorka Izagirre.
Another rider who's been very consistent is Adam Yates, like Fuglsang he's not been short of a brilliant season with wins in Valencia, Catalunya and Basque Country, despite not having won any overall he was in the fight until ilness took him out of the Dauphiné whilst in second place. Yates has been evoluting consistently over the last few seasons and his time to be a serious GC contender is now, with an explosive nature to his climbing, he's worth more than just that as he's also been 4th at only 23 here in 2016. His preparation, excluding his Dauphiné mishap has seemed to also be very good, he's coming with big ambitions and Mitchelton is betting high on him, having his brother Simon come as support aswell as Jack Haig who is having a breakthrough season at the top level, and also remarcable support for the flat terrain and time-trialing.
Main Domestiques: Simon Yates, Jack Haig.
Mikel Landa & Nairo Quintana
It's been long known that Movistar are a team with big depth, Nairo Quintana's top performances have been some years ago but the Colombian still has strong climbing legs and every year is more mature, and knows how to target the race as well as any rider. Quintana has been having a normal season for his standards, short of wins but his early season was strong, he looked a bit behind on form at the Dauphiné but he, as any other contender knows the key to the race is in the final week. As well known Mikel Landa is making another tilt at the race, his best performance came when he did the Giro beforehand in 2017 so there is no reason to believe the preparation can't be ideal, Landa has climbed as well as he has ever last month in Italy and with the rough profile of the race he can definetely profit from it, the real question behind them is how good their form will be and if they can really benefit from the strenght in depth they present with several strong climbers, such as they were able to capitalize on the Giro.
Main Domestiques: Alejandro Valverde, Marc Soler.
Ever since his debuting Tour in 2012 Pinot's talent in the climbs was evident. Inbetween that year and 2019 have been some successful editions like 2014, some disapointments and some missed editions. Pinot has been allowed to ride the Giro with GC hopes several times the last few years and has had success, in the Tour he usually struggles with the heat and that's a possibility again for this year. Despite a short stint as a time-trial strenght, the Frenchman has clearly gotten the reputation of a pure climber and last year he had a brutal finish to the season with wins and strong performances in the Vuelta and the Italian Autumn classics. This year he's back to the Tour with big hopes and finds himself close to the top of the charts, with a strong season so far, confident climbing quality and the strongest support he's ever had in the race, I am very confident that this is a year he will be in direct fight for the win.
Main Domestiques: Gaudu, Reichenbach, Molard
The other Frenchman, as Pinot since his first Tour he has been pressured and given as Hinault's successor, and often he has struggled with the pressure. He is a rider that struggles with INEOS' riding style but in his best he was a climbing powerhouse here, two times in the podium already. AG2R last year had a transformation in the Tour team and this year it remains, it's a much more organized and focused team, and Bardet has his right-arms Oliver Naesen and Mickael Cherel present. The team suffered setbacks, Latour won't be in as he is still coming back to form after a long injury period, and crashes have affected some of his teammates, but Bardet will need to depend on himself and on coming back to his best climbing performances , if he does we can be sure of seeing an agressive and innovative AG2R on the attack.
Main Domestiques: Gallopin, Vuillermoz, Frank.
The old enigma, is Richie Porte a Grand Tour contender. I will start with yes, 2016 his first GC tilt at the Tour gave confidence, since then he's been affected by crashes simple as that. Truth is since last year's Tour crash he has struggled to get his results dialed, but taking into acount that he has indeed won in Down Under and there's still a present memory of his 2017/2018 dominance there's still a chance. That, though, wouldn't give me the confidence as although showing solid form lately he's clearly still lacking it. What gives me confidence is that Trek have built the team all around him, with Degenkolb and Theuns absent and with Giro success dup Ciccone and Mollema the team is clearly focused in the Australian, maybe Porte still has the numbers, he's only slowly building up. There's always a chance, if he's a 3-week specialist no but if he has got some great climbing in him, yes, and that's what is the most vital.
Main Domestiques: Mollema, Ciccone.
It's been a long time since the Dutch became a Grand Tour rider, especially strong usually in the final week of the race, 2016 saw the Giro taken away from him in a crash, and last year we saw a shade of that with a super Tour/Vuelta double. With the race's structure this year it seriously gets me thinking it suits the Dutch very well, and despite a focus in Groenewegen within the squad, George Bennett and Laurens de Plus give a confident aproach to the climbing support. This, coming from a team is supreme form with plenty of crosswind/TTT confidence where he can be safe. He hasn't raced that much this season but the consistency has been there, the only mishap came in the Dauphiné where he had to abandon close to the end, but likely that won't harm his preparation.
Main Domestiques: G.Bennett, de Plus.
Enric Mas comes as one of the jokers, last year he had a breakthrough Vuelta with a superb second place, this season he's been far from it, despite some good rides nothing close to the top riders and he's clearly lacking the support from the team, who will be focused on Viviani and Alaphillipe's ambitions aswell. Although some may call it a disadvantage we've seen Jungels thrive by himself in the mountains and if there's a race where he can ride strong in the wheels of the oponents this is definetely it. He has the legs it's just a matter of finding them, Mas can be an outsider, getting yellow would destroy him but as long as he's able to climb as he did in the Vuelta he can be sure of finishing the race strong.
Main Domestiques: Asgreen, Devenyns.
Uran has never been a rider coming to the Tour as a main contender, but as he showed in 2017 he can be a serious threat when at his best. After a calendar avoiding his rivals, he is maybe the GC contender with the more mistery about his form, with 19 days of racing also he comes as one of the riders in the whole race with the smallest amount of racing this season, but he's shown in Occitaine good form he can build during the race and peak right in the end. He will count on the support of a team that's been brilliant in team time-trials, he's going to get his support in the mountains aswell by mainly Michael Woods who himself can play a role in the GC, Tejay van Garderen and Tanel Kangert. It's another very nicely structured team that will surely focus on stage wins aswell but a team that can support 2 leaders if needed.
Main Domestiques: Woods, van Garderen, Kangert.
This is another one of the serious jokers of the race, his 3-week history isn't the best but that will come as an unknown for his rivals, looking at the way Bora has been riding this season there is no discarting Buchmann as a serious podium contender, he's got Patrick Konrad, Gregor Muhlberger and a mega breakthrough Max Schachmann to ride with him in the mountains, the team is very strong for the flat where Sagan and his leadout men will have the German's ambitions taken into consideration, Bora looks like a team where everything is fitting into place, and seeing how Buchmann's been riding this season, wins in Mallorca and Basque Country alongside several stunning performances and an agressive style of riding, his recent 3rd place in the Dauphiné confirms he's on the right track.
Main Domestiques: Konrad, Muhlberger, Schachmann.
Martin is a bit of an unknown coming into the race. He's solid and his Tour performances have been consistent in the last few years, his season highlight was in the Basque Country where he looked very strong but he hasn't shone that much this year, and his Dauphiné was a continuation of his season. The Giro was a big success for the team, but here I have a hard time imagining such, as a relative new team still it isn't as organized, despite Gaviria's absence in the team Alexander Kristoff is still having riders to support him, and with Martin are riders that seem much more focused in breakaways than the GC with Costa, Henao and Aru who has recently came back to competition and is coming in replacing the Colombian sprinter.
Main Domestiques: Aru, R.Costa, Henao.
Rohan Dennis & Vincenzo Nibali
These two, I call them the ultimate outsiders. They aren't real GC contenders coming in, but both have very good arguments. First Nibali is a rider who knows perfectly how to prepare for Grand Tours and knowing the last week is vital he still has time to come to his best, and on the other hand is Dennis, recently a very impressive 2nd in Suisse showing very good qualities in multi-mountain days and altitude. Despite a climbing-filled Tour there's always ground for him to gain on his rivals, seeing that his time-trialing finally looks dialed in, the way he's ridden in Suisse and the focus he's had the last few years to turn into a genuine GT riders is a threat to all others, memories of Tom Dumoulin's 2015 Vuelta come to mind and you never know if Dennis is able to capitalize on the lack of pressure and focus from his rivals, and benefit from a quiet race ridden at pace which will likely be the case.
What gives me confidence in them is the team behind, there's a very strong contingent behind them for all terrains, and the fact that Caruso came from the Giro aswell is a clear sign that in the back of his head Nibali has clear GC intentions.
Main Domestiques: Caruso, Teuns.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Thomas, Fuglsang
⭐ Porte, Bardet, Mas, Uran, D.Martin, Dennis, Nibali
My bet though, is on Geraint Thomas. His run-up to the Tour has been good, he's going to have fresh legs as his first months he came into race weight slowly, and despite his Suisse crash may look like a step down on his form, but it gives me further confidence that he will be in his best until the very end which is vital. With a team as strong as ever it's hard to look outside INEOS, and at this point Thomas is a rider that to me transmits a whole lot of confidence, I see him taking his second Tour.
Six-time winner of this classification, he's won it every Tour he's finished and this season he doesn't seem to have lost his edge so there is no reason to believe any other rider is more of a favourite than him. There is no real type of Tour that can play against him, he can climb, ride in the cobbles, is a master of positioning with and without a leadout, so there isn't really much his rivals can do to top him, but as every year is the case the competition is strong. Sagan has had a bit of a rough spring but recently seemed to be back his very best in Suisse with a great race and seems ready for the race, and with his trusty leadout (to add, with no real sprinter, just positioning) we can be sure to see him in the fight for a record-breaking maillot vert.
Leadout: Oss and Postleberger. He won't be lead to the final meters by his teammates, but alongside Burghardt there's enough firepower to keep him well positioned, it's a trio that have worked briliantly over the last season and Sagan can be confident in his men.
His Giro was a disapointment, but it can't hinder the wins he had earlier in the season, in Down Under, UAE and Tirreno alongside the Geelong classic. Viviani is one of the fastest sprinters currently in the peloton and he has a decent punch for short hills. His weakspot seems to be he struggles to function without a proper leadout but it's not by chance that he finds himself in the team that perhaps has the best leadout there is, with Michael Morkov and Max Richeze he is expected to have a top position in every sprint, there's no denying, and even without those two there are Yves Lampaert and Kasper Asgreen who are very powerful riders capable of carrying Viviani and his main henchmen. The Deceuninck train is very well oiled there is no doubt, Viviani won two stages in Suisse with the exact same leadout and least isn't expected here, he is a serious contender for the jersey because in the flat sprints he promises a lot.
Leadout: Richeze, Morkov, Lampaert and Asgreen, the most experienced leadout in the race and maybe the best, Viviani is in his terrain with his men and in a race where long leadouts aren't usual, Deceuninck seem to have a team that can break that trend.
The only rider since 2012 except for Sagan to win this classification. He is far from a pure sprinter but he has the ability to go in breakaways and obtain points where others don't, which is his strenght, specially this year as he has prepared to be climbing strongly in service of Dumoulin (who won't end up being present). That he can get those points I know, but the question is if he can gain enough points in the pure sprints to keep himself in the fight, that may be harder as he doesn't seem as explosive as he used to be, but he does come with a strong leadout. With debutant Cees Bol as main man he knows there's a very powerful sprinter in support but the lack of experience may come as a big disadvantage. Still, rider like Nikias Arndt and Soren Kragh Andersen can come as a big help for the job.
Leadout: Bol, Arndt and Andersen. Lack of experience but no lack of power, it will be a case of having it dialed, but Matthews should know when to hop around the peloton as he may need it.
The Italian has seemed to be in the peloton for an eternity, winning stages in the 2013 and 2014 edition but he is still 29. This year he comes to the Tour with the ambition of a stage win and to score high here, he is a big candidate if he fully focuses on it. In favour, his great sprinting and climbing, and general power rider abilities, the downside may be the lack of focus of the team in him, with Adam Yates as a serious GC contender. With Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn, Chris Juul-Jensen and Daryl Impey there is lots of room to play with, with the team having a double-pronged aproach towards the positioning of their leader, and Trentin may get the support he needs to be present in the sprints.
Leadout: Whilst Durbridge and Juul-Jensen should be more in support of Yates, I see Impey and Hepburn more focused on Trentin's ambitions, not a superb leadout but positioning is the vital part.
9 wins this season, the most winning sprinter this season and a nightmare to his rivals. Over the last seasons Groenewegen has become one of the most dominant sprinters in the peloton and it seems like every year he gets stronger, with wins in Valencia, Algarve, Paris-Nice, De Panne, Dunkerque and the ZLM Tour, he wins virtually anywhere he goes and it's not by chance, a rider used to the chaotic type of racing, very powerful and with a fit and brilliant leadout, alongside Viviani they are expected to be the headliners in the pure sprints. Jumbo-Visma aren't in paper a leadout force in pure power, but looking in detail, on how much Groenewegen, Teunissen and Jansen race and win together it's a scary prospect. The Tour is a beast but so is this combination, adding Wout van Aert who is in an incredible form and Tony Martin, one of the biggest engines in the peloton, you have alongside Deceuninck the best leadout possible.
Leadout: Teunisse, Janse, van Aert, T.Martin.
The same as in the Giro, Ewan is a pure sprinter with a bit of a punch, very similar to Viviani in every term including the leadout. The pocket rocket has wins in UAE, Turkey, Giro and recently in the ZLM Tour and seems to be coming in good form, and his leadout comes set just as it was in Italy two months ago with his main henchmen Jasper de Buyst and Roger Kluge to position him as best as possible, a leadout that works on power and having Ewan right in front of the peloton. Points classification never seemed like a target for Ewan but he will be up there in the sprints and he has a solid chance of going for it with such confidence that the team puts on him.
Leadout: De Buyst, Kluge, Keukeleire, the rest of the team could easily be called for work if needed so Ewan really has the confidence that no other sprinter as from the team, he needs to be consistent and he should be set for the fight.
A bit of an outsider, Colbrelli is a rider that suits perfectly in the frame of Sagan, just on a bit lower level. Like Matthews and Trentin too he can seriously climb, but like Matthews he seems to suffer a bit from the overpressure syndrome, which leaves Bahrain (and Sunweb) with a lot of work to do in the stages that suit them, the problem is those very same stages are the ones that suit a breakaway so it's rarely a success. But with Sagan and Bora's presence the pressure may be a bit off their shoulders, Colbrelli is a solid sprinter, very good when it rains and he can jump into breakaways, like Matthews he will need to make sure he scores in the bunch sprints before thinking of green. He has a team full of riders who will want to win stages from the front so we can expect the Italian to be agressive.
Leadout: Ivan Garcia Cortina and Matej Mohoric, not a top leadout of course but they are both very good moving in the peloton and are powerful, Colbrelli is a diverse rider in a diverse team, he's a joker who can do big things in the race.
The Norwegian seemed far from his best self until a brilliant stint in Flandres brought him back to life as a top rider. Kristoff is lacking the top power but he is very consistent and survives the roughness of a Grand Tour very well, he comes with a good set of riders to carry him on the flat stages and will depend on the casualties to really ride himself into contention.
Leadout: Jasper Phillipsen and Sven Erik Bystrom, a duo with a lot of potential and they suit Kristoff's riding style, he will need good positioning but the hard race will favour him if he finds his great form again.
Edvald Boasson Hagen
The other Norwegian, the last rider in my main list is Edvald Boasson Hagen, he normally has good performances in the Dauphiné and his win plus lead in there was of great motivation. In fact he has wins in Valencia and Norway and wore yellow in all of them, he still has a great sprinting power and the form to match, Dimension Data are going to be focusing on him and Nizzolo, likely he will take the lead as his history with the race is great and he's another power rider capable of riding the rough terrain, a natural classics rider, the team will have a great eye on him, with Nizzolo and Rensburg as a really strong leadout, Lars Bak as a very experienced road captain, the South African team's leadout seems promising.
Leadout: Nizzolo, van Rensburg and Bak, good combination of experience and peak power, if Boasson Hagen targets green and has the legs he is a solid contender for it.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Viviani, Matthews
⭐ Alaphillipe, van Aert, Nizzolo
Mountain stage/ITT/Intermediate Sprint
Well what is there to say? Sagan is virtually unbeatable in this type of competition, he lacks a weak spot and only crashes can take him out of contention, I think he will once again take green home and write another page in the history books.
Polka Dots Jersey
Vinzenzo Nibali & Damiano Caruso
I'll start off with the Italian duo. So, I believe that Nibali wants to have a run for the GC, but in case Nibali fails to do so I am sure Nibali will focus on stage wins and in the polka dots. Knowing that he's targeting to hit the race with form I can easily see him in the front in the mountains and for Caruso I think the same, his Giro ride was very strong but as a domestique his fatigue mustn't be as high, he prepared with Nibali and they should come with similar form, both great climbers suited for the high mountains and altitude.
Bauke Mollema & Giulio Ciccone
Another duo I'll mention is the Trek one, I don't see Porte in the serious fight for the top places, but even if he does one of the two should have the freedom to fight for the jersey. In the Giro it worked well, and with the commitment the team has in the mountains it's expected that someone will be targeting the classification.
The defending champion, Alaphillipe will face bigger dificulties this year as the high mountains are deeper in the race and the steady grinds won't favour him, the altitude I imagine will be the same. Still, besides stage wins he should try to replicate last year's sucess and he's a genuine contender.
Michael Woods is another pure climber, although he favours the shorter climbs his evolution in the high mountains is notable and he has seemed to prepare very well for the Tour. With Uran in the team GC ambitions are present, but Uran shouldn't be in direct contention as in some years ago, and with more climbers in the team I think it would be beneficial for the Canadian to fight for a jersey that he seems very fitted to.
The new French national champion, until this very weekend I wasn't considering as a serious contender as he's looked far from his best, but this win, and this jersey can play a big role in his motivation. When he's good, he's very good, and with a team fully backing him up and the French crowd behind him he can pull of something special as in 2017.
Herrada as come as one of the surprises of the season so far, with some strong wins to his name he comes into the Tour as a stage hunter, and seeing the way he's climbed high mountains such as in Oman and the Mont Ventoux Challenge and has a team with good climbers backing him up, like Barguil.
Zakarin comes as a bit of an unknown as in theory GC would be his priority but he's done so in the Giro. Back in 2016 the double worked well as he won a mountain top finish (despite making it only to stage 19 in the Giro, technically not finishing). If he feels more confortable with the ambitions of going for breakaways and stages why not consider him for the jersey, I know he's got the legs for it.
Muhlberger comes as my Bora pick. With 4 strong climbers I believe one will have the chance, breakaways will come likely from him and Schachmann as a duo of complete riders suited for several stages. Muhlberger is part of the new Bora generation and I can really imagine him in the lead, a strong punchy climber that can go well in the high mountains aswell.
Thomas de Gendt & Tiesj Benoot
It's not that I believe in him to win much, but his consistency and power rider abilities suit several stages in the race, I believe he will come out of it with a stage win and the mountain classification will certainly be on the top of his priorities. As for Benoot, I have trouble thinking of what he can do, a great climber, I don't think he'll target GC but he certainly may be thinking of that, but stage wins is more likely and the jersey may come as an addition.
Alessandro De Marchi
De Marchi is de Gendt but Italian, exactly the same type of power rider but with less of a sprint. His riding style is perfect for the stages in the Massif Central, and generally the hilly stages, but he is in good form and is a frequent presence in front, and the polka dots should also be on the back of his mind.
⭐ Nibali, Zakarin, Ciccone, de Gendt, De Marchi, Muhlberger
Normal - 20,15,12,10,8,6,4,2
Stage Finish - 40,30,24,20,16,12,8,4
Normal - 10,8,6,4,2,1
Stage Finish - 20,16,12,8,4,2
Normal - 5,3,2,1
Stage Finish - 10,6,4,2
Normal - 2,1
Stage Finish - 4,2
Normal - 1
Stage Finish - 2
I'm going for Michael Woods. Betting on this jersey is always a lottery, but some riders give more confidence than others and from him I really feel it. I expect EF to pursure something better from a Top5/10 that Uran will be fighting for, and Woods will have the freedom to go big by himself.
Bernal comes as the overwhelming favourite for this jersey - and yellow - despite being the second youngest rider in the startlist. Last year Bernal was completely at the disposal of his leaders, but he's gained enough reputation in the team to have a dig himself, and at the same time he will be fighting to go big in the white jersey.
Deceuninck's Spanish prodigy Enric Mas is the follow-up contender, he is possibly the only rider really targeting the GC besides Bernal for this jersey and logic would say that he can be in the direct fight for it. He can even be in white even though not leading the classification, I do see it as a possibility.
Gaudu is a long-coming talent, I only don't rate him higher as Thibaut Pinot is the leader of the team and everyone should be behind him. Gaudu comes as he is indeed a majour climbing performer already, but as his form coming into the race isn't as high and he's still relatively young, hoping for consistency and freedom along the 3 weeks is hard to imagine.
Benoot is the final rider that I consider for the jersey, if at least 2 of the previous 3 are far from their best. Benoot is an incognite, I don't know if he'll target the GC or stage wins and probably he doesn't know aswell, during the race we'll find out but this will remain a possibility until (and if) he cracks.
⭐Gaudu, Benoot, Asgreen, Schachmann, De Plus
It's hard to imagine Bernal not taking it, only crash or ilnesses should take it away from him as he's shown to have all the skills for a Grand Tour contender and his form and team support is on spot.
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