So it’s time for the Tour once again, and if it’s been a somewhat underwhelming build up given the injuries to the presumed favourites it’s still the bloody Tour, right? Once it kicks in we’ll all be hooked once again. Here’s a quick start list with a few comments of mine: feel free to add yours below.
Astana Pro Team: everyone is talking up Fuglsang because of the injuries to Froome and Dumoulin (and because he won the Dauphine, to be fair), but he’s got no real form for a grand tour (best result 7th), and he’s probably a bit old. Angel Lopez would have been a better call, but they figured he had a shot at the Giro, and we all saw what happened there. They are a formidable squad though, so I wouldn’t be surprised by a few stage wins and maybe a career defining podium for Jakob.
SÁNCHEZ Luis León
Bahrain Merida: I mean, Nibali. Just … Nibali. Who knows, but it would be a massive surprise if he could pick it up and run with it after his exertions at the Giro, but as ever he’s an enigma. Dennis will be targeting the TT, Teuns will be targeting breakaways, and Colbrelli will targeting P5 in the sprints.
GARCÍA CORTINA Iván
Team Sunweb: Jesus, they must be gutted. Guess they sit behind Bling for the green jersey, with Wilco to try and pick up the Tom sized pieces and Haga to aim for the TT again. Nice that Nico won’t have to sit on the couch and talk about it, for once.
KRAGH ANDERSEN Søren
Team INEOS: Jesus, they must etc. Can’t really feel sorry for a team that rich though: it’s like feeling sorry for Mercedes that they didn’t win in Austria. Geraint to go for yellow, with Bernal also a protected rider, but is the Welshman fit enough? Time will tell. And they have an incredible ability to pick up big rider injuries, so nothing is assured. But look at those engines to pull them up the hills if the big two stay healthy.
VAN BAARLE Dylan
BORA - hansgrohe: Sorry Buchmann, but everyone is looking at Sagan to get the green record. And maybe Poestlerger to nick a breakaway win again.
UAE-Team Emirates: God, imagine if Aru was ARU again. That would be amazing. Instead they’ll have to rely on Dan Martin until he has his jour sans, and then it’ll be all over for them for the season.
BYSTRØM Sven Erik
LAENGEN Vegard Stake
Team Dimension Data: Some punchy potential stagewinners in Boasson Hagen, Cummings and Valgren, but how sad is it that there was no room at the inn for Cavendish? Too sad, that’s how sad.
BOASSON HAGEN Edvald
JANSE VAN RENSBURG Reinardt
BAK Lars Ytting
AG2R La Mondiale: Bardet. If not this year, then when? Hilliest tour in years, one little TT (and a TTT), no Froome or Dumoulin to smash him apart in the TT, and probably the best team he’s ever had behind him. Time to shit or get off the pot, Romain. I kind of hope he can do it.
Lotto Soudal: Here for Ewan to get sprint wins, and De Gendt to piss everyone off with breakaways on the other stages.
DE GENDT Thomas
DE BUYST Jasper
Groupama - FDJ: Pinot. If not this year, then when? I love Thibaut, the Frenchest Frenchie on the circuit, but he doesn’t do well with pressure, does he? And there’s no worse pressure for him than being the lead Frenchman at the Tour de France. I expect him to implode on an early stage, perhaps on purpose, so that he can ride his own race and attack on the later stages without the GC group getting in his way. But I’d love for him to prove me wrong. If he is still in the lead group after Le Planche he might make me eat my words.
Movistar Team: I really hope they try to reuse that whole trident thing again. Or bring Soler into it and claim it’s a … I don’t know, a shovel? But really, Quintana is already done, Valverde is too old, Landa is on the back of P4 at the Giro (and may be pissed off, but also likely tired), and Soler is too inexperienced. So now they’ll grab the whole podium just to prove me a liar.
Team Jumbo-Visma: Bet they wish they’d held back Roglic now. Still, Dylan might get some sprint wins.
VAN AERT Wout
JANSEN Amund Grøndahl
DE PLUS Laurens
CCC Team: I love Van Avermaet as much as the next guy, but it’s hard to see them getting much out of this tour.
VAN AVERMAET Greg
DE MARCHI Alessandro
Deceuninck - Quick Step: They don’t even need to win anything at the Tour this year, so successful has they’re year been to date. So expect 4 stages, and the polka dot for Alaphilippe.
Mitchelton-Scott: Everyone seems to think it’s Adam Yates’ year, but who knows: he got sick at the Dauphine, which isn’t a great start, and his brother will likely be tired. Turbo Durbo will be as strong as ever, and Juul-Jensen will write the best stories from the Tour. A great team, and on for the TTT, but I can’t see them winning.
EF Education First: Best kit in the peleton, fact. And they’ll be fun to watch, but Uran is getting old and Van Garderen is not up to it. Bet Phinney does something stupid/cool though. As always. Maybe Woods is an outside bet for top 5?
VAN GARDEREN Tejay
Team Katusha Alpecin: Hard to know why they exist really, other than there are Russians with too much money. Maybe Zakarin can nick a mountain stage after dropping out of the GC.
WÜRTZ SCHMIDT Mads
Wanty - Gobert Cycling Team: Breakaway fodder.
DE GENDT Aimé
EIKING Odd Christian
VAN MELSEN Kevin
Trek - Segafredo: Porte. If not this year, you know the rest. I really, really, really want to believe. But I really don’t. Please prove me wrong, Richie.
DE KORT Koen
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits: Not even breakaway fodder. Maybe Laporte can go top 5 in a sprint.
Team Total Direct Energie: Breakaway fodder than might get a win or two.
Team Arkéa Samsic: Also competing.
So there you go, a Tour review that can’t even pick a winner. I hope you can do better.