Tour de France Tips
So the 103rd Tour gets underway tomorrow with the riders covering 3519km over 21 stages with a few mountains thrown in too, ending on July 24 in Paris and we’ve got our Tour de France tips for you below.
The first stage is an 188km breeze from stunning Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach then on to Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, flat all the way, so look out for the sprinters.
So who are our Tour de France 2016 tips?
1. Chris FROOME: TEAM SKY @ $2.10
“I think it’s going to take a complete cyclist to win,” Froome said of the 2016 course when it was unveiled in October last year.
We believe Froome-Dog is pretty much that cyclist.
He won the recent Critérium du Dauphiné so is in good form coming into Le Tour and has a fantastic team around him with Landa, Henao, Nieve and Pouels his superstar domestiques.
Although Richie Porte has now moved to BMC we can think of no better cyclist to be Froome’s No.2 than Welshman Geraint Thomas. We’ve followed him for several years now and he just gets better and better, with a massive comeback win in the Paris-Nice this year where he beat Alberto Contador.
If Froome goes down and withdraws, SKY will look to the G-Man.
VERDICT: Froome looks the business, but Quintana will push him all the way.
2. Nairo QUINTANA: MOVISTAR @ $3
The 5″5″ Columbian pocket-rocket will not allow Froome to rest for one second in this year’s Tour.
Last year Quintana got stuck in the Netherlands crosswinds on the coast that cost him significant time and arguably it resulted in a second place finish on the Paris podium.
He has now stood on the podium in second place twice in three years and he will be gunning for his first yellow jersey.
This year he took out the Volta a Ciclista a Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie — where Froome also rode, finishing well back — so is in pretty fine form.
With the Andorran high altitude stage and a more-or-less mountain time-trial, Quintana will be ensuring he peddles in Beast Mode to pull away from his rivals, showcasing his climbing ability.
Backed up by veteran Spaniard Valverde (who finished third behind Froome and Quintana last year) and with SKY’s manager David Brailsford calling Quintana ‘Froome’s biggest threat’, we could well see the powerhouse Columbian in the yellow jersey come July 24, which no one would begrudge.
VERDICT: This could well be the year he turns seconds into a first.
3. Alberto CONTADOR: TINKOFF @ $7
Old ‘El Pistolero’ will be out to prove the ageists wrong as he puts his 33-year-old body through the wringer once again.
In the Volta ao Algarve Contador finished third then came second to Geraint Thomas in the Paris-Nice, in a cracking race where the Spaniard attacked Team SKY’s Welshman 50km out then again up the Col d’ Éze.
There is no better sight in cycling than watching Contador out of his seat, dancing on his peddles as he attacks a climb. Vintage stuff.
He goes into this Tour very confident, citing the desire to win it, not merely make up the numbers and reckons we will not know who is really challenging for the yellow jersey until the last stage.
“ [It will be] open until the last moment, and in fact I consider that last stage the hardest. It’s one of the hardest Tours in years, and that means recovery is going to be the most important factor of all,” Contador told a press conference this week.
Last year Contador readliy admitted he ran out of steam in the Tour but this year he’s built his preparation around, what could be, one final attack for the maillot jaune.
VERDICT: Expect to see the trademark aggressive attacks up the mountain stages as Alberto takes it to the leaders, but we feel Froome and Quintana are just too strong.
4. Richie PORTE: BMC $21
Accused by his critics of racing with Froome and not against him in the Dauphiné, Porte believes he is a force to be reckoned with and is ‘flying under the radar’ for this year’s Tour.
He finally gets to step out of Froome’s shadow and prove he too is a complete cyclist and it should be mentioned that in last year’s Tour Porte looked, at times, stronger than Froome.
You can expect Porte to be locked onto the Kenyan’s back wheel, waiting for the first sign of weakness up those mountains, that’s odds-on.
His critics also argue that he does not have the capacity to win over three weeks as he often has ‘bad days’ where he has lost time, but we feel Porte will put that all behind him this time around and will be up with the leading pack.
It will be interesting to see what happens if, after three weeks, both he and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC’s co-leader with Porte) are up in contention in the GC standings.
If you recall, Van Garderen was in third position last year until he abandoned the race due to illness.
Who will support who?
VERDICT: Does Porte have what it takes to seize the yellow jersey in Paris? Not this time around but a podium finish is not out of the question.
Fabio ARU: ASTANA $21
The quality 25-year-old rider from Italy will be looking to stamp his name all over this year’s Tour.
With the help of the 2014 yellow jersey, Vincenzo Nibali, (who also recently won the Giro d’Italia) Aru will be having a crack at topping the GC standings on his debut, safely guided through the mountain stages by his teammate.
If Aru wins Le Tour he will join the great Eddy Merckx as one of only 12 cyclists to have won the Tour on their first attempt, with Laurent Fignon back in 1983 being the last rider to do so.
The worry with Aru is if he struggles will Nibali take over leading the Astana team and we would have to say he would.
Nibali is preparing for the Rio Olympics road race where Aru will support him and the Italian team have their sights on Gold.
Is there the potential for a Hinault and Le Monde repeat where the Frenchman said he would help the American win the 1986 Tour, then duly attacked him whenever he could?
As Richie Porte said of Nibali in his recent ESPN column, “Okay, he says he will be at the Tour to help Aru. But people forget Nibali won the Tour in 2014. He has now just won the Giro. He is coming in with no pressure. He will be dangerous.”
VERDICT: A Tour too early for the young Italian but expect to see him stand on top of the podium in the very near future.
OVERALL: We think Quintana will be the man holding the yellow jersey come July 24 in Paris.