With Le Tour nearly upon us, we look at some of the strongest contenders for the General Classification’s Yellow Jersey.
Team Sky’s directors have a proven track record when it comes to tactical thinking. Team Sky expect discipline from their domestiques and Froome has consistently found himself in the right place at the right time. See stage 19 of this year’s Giro, for example.
Team Sky deliver Froome to the front before he drops the hammer
Needless to say, 2018 is big for Team Sky and Froome. This is his chance to join Indurain, Hinault, Merckx, and Anquetil in the Club de Cinq Victoires.
Bahrain-Merida removed Nibali from this year’s Giro, wanting him fresh for Le Tour. One stage sees the peloton heading into Roubaix, and I’m sure this has given Froome reason to meditate on his disastrous 2014 effort to defend his title.
Nibali wins Stage 2 before going on to take Le Tour GC in 2014
Nibali’s early assertions appeared to rattle Froome into taking risks that would be considered uncharacteristic if he was to take them now. But, that said, Nibali’s presence will be a serious concern for Froome. And Bahrain-Merida’s singular focus will draw Team Sky’s attention.
Tom Dumoulin and Richie Porte
The bookies have given Dumoulin slightly better odds than Porte, most likely because his superb Giro win in 2017 proved he rises to big occasions. In contrast, Porte’s form was disappointing since leaving Team Sky until he won the 2017 Tour de Romandie – much to BMC’s relief, no doubt.
Porte’s impressive show of strength a clear signal he is fit for Le Tour
Sadly, Porte’s horrific crash in Le Tour 2017 put an end to what could have been a serious attempt on the yellow jersey. But since then, Porte’s staged an epic recovery and won the Tour de Suisse earlier this season. Let’s hope Porte brings that fighting spirit to this year’s tour.
Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa
El Cóndor de los Andes, also known as Quintana, had a muted 2017. Other than winning a few stages here and there he disappeared under the radar. Movistar seemed incapable of providing the support needed to win a grand tour, even with Valverde’s more than capable support.
Is Landa the best climber in the world right now?
This year, Mikel Landa joins Movistar. The same age as Quintana, Landa is more than just a wingman – he was joint race leader with Geraint Thomas in Team Sky’s 2017 Giro effort. Like Porte, Landa is an incredibly capable racer, but Team Sky has a deep pool of talent. Speaking of which…
Finally, don’t rule out a curveball from Team Sky. Geraint Thomas has been announced as joint race-leader. This looks like succession planning.
More than just a lieutenant…
Thomas had a blinding Dauphiné, and in any other team that would make him the favourite to take the top spot on the podium in Paris.