The Yellow Jersey is worn by the leader in the general classification and consequently the overall winner of the Tour de France. To wear the yellow jersey at any point is a great honour and the leader at the end of each day will be presented with the Yellow Jersey which they will then wear the following day. Chris Froome is the defending champion and again shapes as the man to beat. The Wolf breaks down the top contenders and any potential outsiders who have the potential to spring an upset.
Chris Froome ($2.25)
Over the past three years, Chris Froome has clearly been the best Grand Tour rider and the two time defending champion goes into this year’s race as favourite and rightly so. He has proven time & again that he is the best climber in the world right now and given the parcours of the route this year, he should be licking his lips in anticipation of putting some huge time gaps into his main rivals. The Wolf has no doubt that Froome can dominate the race this year, however there are a few points to note that might work against him.
In all of the tours that he has entered, Froome has had a tendency to fade in the third week, and knowing that this year’s race punishes the riders with some huge stages in that 3rd week, he has had a very quiet build up to the race. Whether he believes that this will mean he reaches his peak condition is unknown, however nothing is a given in road racing and who is to say that he’ll ever reach 100% condition at the crucial point of the race. If he doesn’t enter the race in peak condition, there are enough obstacles to encourage the likes of Quintana, Contador & Aru to try and put some time into Froome before they even reach the 3rd week.
Having said all this, Froome has one huge trump card up his sleeve; his team. Team Sky have assembled one of the strongest line-ups in Tour history and they are by far the strongest team in the race. With key men in Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa plus a stellar set of mountain domestiques to help him, Froome can take comfort in the fact that he’ll always have riders around to protect him from any attacks. This is a climbers race & as the best climber in the race, The Wolf has to make Chris Froome his best bet to take out the race. He has the support of his team around him & barring any major incidents, he will be riding to Paris in the famous Maillot Jaune, champagne in hand.
Nairo Quintana ($2.75)
The diminutive Colombian is a genuine superstar of cycling. Having finished as runner up to Chris Froome in both 2013 & 2015, he’ll be looking to go one better this year. He comes into the race in dominant form and clearly stronger than he was in previous years. He has always been strong in the mountains, which will serve him well this year, however this year has seen him make huge inroads in his time trial ability. There are question marks over his team and whether he’ll get the kind of protection that Froome is able to count on but if, as is suspected, Froome isn’t entering the race in peak form, Quintana has the ability to punish him early on in the week. His recovery powers should help him match Froome in the last week of the race and if he is clever about when to attack his main rival, he has a massive chance of standing on the top step of the podium in Paris.
Richie Porte ($17)
It’s been said time & time again about Richie Porte; it’s now or never. Like Froome, his Spring training has taken a different approach, racing lightly and concentrating on entering this race fresh & mentally ready to go. He has suffered in previous years from inconsistency and poor race management, however he enters the race as probably the 3rd best climber in the world, behind Froome & Quintana. The potential is there and has always been there, for Porte to achieve a Grand Tour victory, the question is can he overcome his vulnerabilities and keep morale going when he has a bad day. Entering the race as an underdog, the pressure will be off and if he can work well with his teammate, Tejay Van Garderen, he might be able to play a waiting game and pounce when his rivals are faltering.
Thibaut Pinot ($18)
The great French hope has added a much improved time trial ability to his armoury this year and looks a more complete rider than he has ever been. He has showed great consistency this season and the course suits his climbing legs perfectly. This year’s route places less stress on the peloton in the first week and that plays into Pinot’s hands as he is much more comfortable in the mountains, not fighting for position or trying to shelter from crosswinds on the flat stages. The two time-trials are basically made for him and as the recently crowned French time trial champion, he’ll be sure to target those 2 stages for victory & time gaps on rivals. There are question marks over his descending ability and how he copes with the heat but at the price the Wolf thinks he is definitely worth looking at.
Other riders to keep an eye on are Geraint Thomas ($31) & Mikel Landa ($51). If Chris Froome has to abandon the race, the Sky pair will fight for the the Maillot Jaune between themselves. Thomas is Froome’s key support man, however if he has a bad day, Landa is more than capable of winning the race. Likewise, Tejay Van Garderen ($41), has all the ability to win the race if the opportunity arises and given Porte’s mental lapses, he might be leading BMC sooner than expected.
Things To Note
Nairo Quintana: The diminutive Colombian will be desperate to wear the Maillot jaune in Paris after finishing runner up twice. The rote suits his riding style and he has shown great from coming into the race, winning the Tour of Romandie, Volta a Catalunya and more recently, the Route du Sud. The wolf expects Nairo to push Froome right to the Paris this year.
Alberto Contador: Legs gone?? Won more Grand Tours than anyone in history. Team doesn’t seem to be string enough
Fabio Aru: Unknow quantity. Vuelta winner. Has support of Nibali in strong Astana team. Team politics??
Richie Porte: Can he sustain a 3 week race without messing up? Has TJ as his deputy, will he become team leader in place of Porte. Not consistent enough
Nibali: Supporting Aru.