Here it is! The Tour de France! The most important race of the year. And despite of some big missing names, there will be a plenty of excellent riders in the peloton. 

Last year the defending champion Chris Froome and the new winner Geraint Thomas raced together in the same squad (Team Sky, which’s new name since May 2019 is Team Ineos). This can be the case quite easily this year too. But now Thomas is the defending champion and Egan Bernal the new possible conquerer of the title. Bernals performance was impressive at the Tour de Suisse recently, he also won Paris-Nice in March. With an only 27,2 km long ITT (and an almost same long TTT, but Ineos is strong as a team) on program, the young Colombian  rider is the biggest favourite of the race.

Team Movistar participates at the Tour de France with his triumvirate, Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa again. It wasn’t the original plan, but Valverde missed the Giro d’Italia due to an injury, and according to his latest performance at La Route d’Occitanie, he might be in the shape of his life. He was 2nd in 2008, and we have to look far back in the past, when was the last time, that the current world champion was fighting for the overal victory. I think, he is the man for the Movistar at this race. Landa was at the Giro convincing too (but the team had an even better rider, Richard Carapaz), but it’s going to be his second Grand Tour this year. We all used to mention Nairo Quintana among the main favourites every year since his breakthrough season in 2013, but this is probably the last year for doing that. Year after year it’s less and less believable, that he will ever achieve a great result.

The opposite is the case with Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), after his 3rd place in 2014 migh have lost many people the faith in him in the next few years, but 2019 could be his one again (with an even better position at the end). He raced at smaller events with success during the first few months of the season, and probably gained cofidence for the biggest challenge of the season. He looked quite strong and solid at the Critérium du Dauphiné one month ago, and that might be a very good omen.

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) finished 2nd at the Giro, which is a wonderful result for almost anyone, but not for The Shark. It wouldn’t be surprising, if he wouldn’t be satisfied with his own performance, because except the “Il Lombardia stage” and the day on the Mortirolo he wasn’t really “sharky” actually. Among the riders who already have a Grand Tour in their legs, definitelly he can reach the best result this July.

Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) was one of the best riders of the first half of the season. He gave a solid performance through several stage-races like Tirreno-Adriatico,  Volta a Catalinya (both 2nd place) Itzulia Basque Country (5th place). He abandoned the race due to stomach problems  from a 2nd GC-position at the Critérium du Dauphiné on the very last day. He is going to have a very special domestique for this race: his twin brother, Simon Yates who is after a bit dissapointing Giro (8th place).

Maybe it’s a bit strange to mention Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) among the major GC-contenders, but actually he is a very successfull rider in this years as well. He won the Critérium du Dauphiné recently and his team is one of the best in 2019.  Bora-hansgrohe is the other team with (maybe a bit surprising) many victories this season, and it’s not a one-man team anymore. Emanuel Buchmann is getting better and better race by race, his 3rd place at the Critérium du Dauphine wasn’t a surprise at all. Also Enric Mas (Deceuninck-Quick Step) is an another young talent who can  achieve a good result. He was 2nd at the Vuelta a Espana last year. Although his team focusing the green (Elia Viviani) and the polka dot yersey (Julian Alaphilippe), but Mas’s circumstances weren’t much different in last August and September.

I think Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Rigoberto Uran (Team EF) and Romain Bardet (Ag2R) are the same cathegory as Nairo Quitana, it’s not to hard lose the faith in them after many many years of hope. Anyway, they are going to be there this year again.

Another notable mentions: Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) and Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb)

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