We’re just days away from the start of the Tour de France, as the riders set to embark on another memorable grand tour. This years race for the yellow jersey will feature many of the usual big names in cycling. With defending champion Chris Froome highlighting the start list. Will this be Froome’s year again? or, will we see a new champion emerge?
Tour de France Top 10 Riders To Watch
#1 Chris Froome
The defending champion will be going for his third Tour de France title, and is perhaps going to be even tougher to beat this year. After a stellar performance in the Criterium du Dauphine, the British rider is the favorite heading into the three week race. He rode very well in the mountains of France in the preparation race. He won the fifth stage and claimed his third career Dauphine win.
What puts Froome at even more of an advantage this year is the the team surrounding him. He will be joined by Geraint Thomas, Wout Poels, and Mikel Landa. All of these support riders are experienced World Tour riders. It’s hard to see this team losing with such a superior squad to the other teams. Froome will have plenty of support in the mountains, and should be well protected in the bunch sprints.
#2 Nairo Quintana
After finishing second to Froome twice in his career, the Colombian rider will look to win his first title in France this year. A solid buildup to this race has shown his strength. His win at the Route de Sud showed that is ready for another battle in the mountains this year. With Alejandro Valverde joining him in support, the two may pose a threat if Froome finds himself in trouble.
#3 Alberto Contador
It was a disappointing display for Contador at the Criterium du Dauphine, where he fell apart in the latter stages of the race. He may be in better form than shown, but it will take a lot more than what he displayed to make the podium. Regardless he is a very experienced rider and will be a favorite to make an appearance on the final podium.
#4 Richie Porte
A solid start to the season has Porte high up on our riders to watch list. His performance at the Dauphine showed that he can still hang with Froome. Despite losing stage five to him, he showed that he is among the top riders in the world. In hindsight he should have also finished on the podium in the race, but a mistake in the final kilometer cost him a podium spot. With Tejay Van Garderen in the team as well, the pair should work well together, especially in the later stages of the race.
#5 Romain Bardet
The Frenchman is gearing up for another Tour de France appearance. His performance last year found him in ninth place at the end of the race. This was a bit of a disappointment after finishing sixth the previous year.
So far this year, his best performance was at the Dauphine. Making it on to the podium for the first time in his career at the race. He should be right there in the action in the mountains, and don’t be surprised if he pulls off an upset and lands on the podium for the first time.
#6 Thibaut Pinot
After a disappointing performance at last years tour, the Frenchman is back to take on the race for a fifth consecutive year. His best finish at this race came in 2014 when he finished in third place. Last year he finished in 16th. So far this year he has had some decent performances, including a stage win at the Dauphine. With two time trials he should be well positioned to finish in the top 10. A lot will also depend on if he can stay with the other riders in the mountains.
#7 Bauke Mollema
Mollema hasn’t necessarily produced anything of note yet this season, but he was in a similar position heading into last year’s tour. His best finish this season was back in February at the Vuelta a Anadulcia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol. He finished in third overall. Since then he’s posted two top ten finishes. A rough finish to the Dauphine saw him abandon the preparation race, but he should be good to go at the start on Saturday.
#8 Warren Barguil
Barguil has eyes set on winning the youth classification this year. He should not only be a favorite to win the white jersey, but also to finish in the top 10 for the first time in his career. He had a strong performance at the Tour de Suisse, but unfortunately the time trial proved to be his weakness, as he lost the leaders jerseys in stage eight. However, he did manage to finish third on the podium, which proved to be one of the best performances of his career so far.
#9 Fabio Aru
It hasn’t been the best buildup for Aru heading into the tour. His performance at the Dauphine was far from impressive. Although he did have an impressive display of descending in stage three that won him the stage. The question remains if he can duplicate his effort that won him the Vuelta a Espana last year. With Nibali in support it should help him tremendously in the mountain stages, but he was none exist in the latter stage of the Dauphine, which is worrying.
#10 Vincenzo Nibali
Nibali will be on domestique duties this time around, but don’t be surprised if he is allowed to be released for a stage win. The Italian just won the Giro d’ Italia in May and is also gearing up for the Olympics. If things go south with Aru as the team leader, the former tour winner could very well go off on his own and place in the top 10.
Other Riders To Watch For:
Tejay Van Garderen
The American will be riding alongside Porte in hopes one of them will make it on the podium. After a disappointing Tour de Suisse it appears Porte is in better form. Although Van Garderen could surprise us and be the top finisher for BMC.
Rolland finished 10th last year and is poised to improve on his finish. He looked decent in the Dauphine and should be right there in the mountains with the other general classification riders. The time trial isn’t his strongest discipline, which might hurt his chances of a top 10 finish.
The Ettix rider’s best shot at glory in the tour is probably a stage win. However, he can be a factor in the general classification when the riders take to the high mountains. His podium finish at the Dauphine shows he’s in great form.