Is this Chris Froome’s last chance to win a Grand Tour double? Will this be Contador’s victorious swan song? Many riders will want to stake a claim – but only one rider will end the race wearing the Maillot Rojo…
Another rider to consider if you like big odds is Russian rider Zakarin. So far in 2014 he came second overall in the searing heat of the Abu Dhabi Tour, and not too long afterwards Zakarin came 5th overall in the Giro d’Italia – so we know he likes riding hot tours, and he’s a consistent rider.
— zakarin ilnur (@IlnurZakarin) August 2, 2017
The 27-year-old also has a taste for tour victories, having won yellow in the 2015 Tour de Romandie. Team Katusha-Alpecin rested him from Le Tour de France so maybe they may know something we don’t. Could Zakarin be the outsider who upsets the status quo?
Also absent from Le Tour, Nibali will be looking to right the wrongs of his Giro loss to Dumoulin. Nibali must have spent much of Le Tour seething, so expect a big effort from Bahrain-Merida’s top shark.
He won the Croatian Tour earlier in the season, and his podium place in the Giro means he’s appropriately warmed up, and the bookies have him as their favourite behind Froome. A safe bet as an individual, but do Bahrain-Merida have strength in depth to see Nibali through to victory?
The bookies clearly went insane, offering odds of 18-1 on the diminutive Italian rider. I don’t expect those odds to last. Aru is literally the only man to have torn the yellow jersey from Froome’s grasp – and believe me, Team Sky had to work very hard to get it back.
Aru often looked fresher than Froome, but his own team appeared surprised by Aru’s form and they simply weren’t around to support him later in Le Tour. This meant Aru’s Tour de France hopes faded in the final week. If Astana learn from this, Aru will be a serious contender.
With David Lopez, Mikel Nieve, and Salvatore Puccio (to name a few), Froome has a lot of uber-domestiques at his disposal. Like Nibali, Froome feels there is unfinished business with La Vuelta.
Having had his chance of a double ruined several times now, Froome will leave nothing to chance. If Froome doesn’t win a double this year, it’s probably his last serious opportunity. Love him or loathe him, Froome is a great rider – but does he have what it takes to become a legend?