Tour de France 2018: Fernando Gaviria makes it a debut double in thrilling Stage 4 sprint

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Tour de France 2018: Fernando Gaviria makes it a debut double in thrilling Stage 4 sprint
July 10, 2018 1:48pm EDTJuly 10, 2018 1:48pm EDTReview, Cycling, English, Tour de France, Mark Cavendish, Fernando Gaviria, Team SkyFirst-time competitor Fernando Gaviria made it two Tour de France wins in four stages as he beat Peter Sagan and Andre Greipel in a sprint.
Fernando Gaviria(Twitter @quickstepteam)
Nicholas McGee
Updated at 1:48 p.m. ET

Fernando Gaviria prevailed in a thrilling sprint finish Tuesday to win Stage 4 of the Tour de France.

The Quick-Step Floors rider edged Peter Sagan and Andre Greipel at the finish line of the flat 195-kilometer stage from La Baule to Sarzeau.

The victory marks the Colombian’s second stage triumph in his Tour debut as he surprisingly emerged triumphant in a power sprint with Greipel.

After a four-man breakaway was caught in the final kilometer, Gaviria was given the lead out by his team but looked to have run out of gas when Greipel and Sagan attacked.

Yet Gaviria was able to kick on again and had just enough to cross the line first, as Sagan claimed second off the wheel of Greipel.

Overall leader Greg Van Avermaet finished safely in the peloton to retain the yellow jersey.

Stage 4 provided something of a different challenge for Dimension Data’s Mark Cavendish.

The Manxman is aiming to break Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins but remains four off that mark. Cavendish was not involved in the final sprint and had to dismount to take a brief detour into the bushes after his radio fell off his bike.

He will now have to wait until Friday for the next opportunity to claim a 31st stage triumph, the next two stages ones that will favor the climbers rather than the sprinters.

Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, who was involved in the breakaway, won the day’s intermediate sprint. The only King of the Mountains point went to Anthony Perez, who was first up the St-Jean-la-Poterie.

Stage 4 provided something of a different challenge for Dimension Data’s Mark Cavendish.

The Manxman is aiming to break Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins but remains four off that mark. Cavendish was not involved in the final sprint and had to dismount to take a brief detour into the bushes after his radio fell off his bike.

He will now have to wait until Friday for the next opportunity to claim a 31st stage triumph, the next two stages ones that will favor the climbers rather than the sprinters.

Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, who was involved in the breakaway, won the day’s intermediate sprint. The only King of the Mountains point went to Anthony Perez, who was first up the St-Jean-la-Poterie.

Tour de France

The 105th Tour de France is coming up as riders prepare for the most popular of cycling’s three Grand Tours.

The race will begin the first weekend of July and go on for three weeks. It consists of 21 stages across those three weeks and features 176 riders across 22 teams.

This year the Tour will start on the western coast of France in the Vendée department for the fifth time in its history with its traditional finish at the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The 2018 race marks the shortest race of the century at 2,069 miles long.

Below you’ll find everything you need to know about the 2018 Tour de France, including schedule, stages and how to watch live.

When is the 2018 Tour de France?

The Tour de France begins July 7 in the Vendée department, in the Pays de la Loire region, before concluding on July 29 at the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

2018 Tour de France standings, results
1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) – 8:29:53
2. Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) – + 6”
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) – + 10”
4. Marcel Kittel (Katusha Alpecin) – + 12”
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) – + 13”

How to watch the Tour de France live

You can watch live TV coverage of the 2018 Tour de France on NBC Sports. You can also live stream the Tour de France on or the NBC Sports app with NBC Sports Gold’s Cycling Pass. A subscription for Cycling Pass costs $49.99 and runs from June 7, 2018-June 10, 2019.

You can also live stream the Tour de France with fuboTV (7-day free trial).

What are the Tour de France stages?

The route of the 2018 Tour de France includes 21 stages that cover 2,069 miles (3,329 kilometers). There are nine flat stages, four hilly stages, six mountain stages, one team time-trial stage, one individual time trial stage and two rest days. Here is a complete list of each stage with results.

The 2018 Tour de France begins in the Vendée department of France for the fifth time. It will also feature a section of unpaved roads on the Plateau des Glières for the first in 60 years.

Stage 1: Flat – Saturday, July 7 – Noirmoutier-en-l’Île to Fontenay-le-Comte – 117 mi – Winner: Fernando Gaviria
Stage 2: Flat – Sunday, July 8 – Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to La Roche-sur-Yon – 114 mi – Winner: Peter Sagan – Overall: Peter Sagan
Stage 3: Team Time Trial – Monday, July 9 – Cholet – 22 mi
Stage 4: Flat – Tuesday, July 10 – La Baule to Sarzeau – 119 mi
Stage 5: Hilly – Wednesday, July 11 – Lorient to Quimper – 126 mi
Stage 6: Hilly – Thursday, July 12 – Brest to Mûr-de-Bretagne – 112 mi
Stage 7: Flat – Friday, July 13 – Fougères to Chartres – 144 mi
Stage 8: Flat – Saturday, July 14 – Dreux to Amiens – 112 mi
Stage 9: Flat – Sunday, July 15 – Arras to Roubaix – 96 mi
Rest Day – Monday, July 16 – Annecy
Stage 10: Mountain – Tuesday, July 17 – Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand – 99 mi
Stage 11: Mountain – Wednesday, July 18 – Albertville to La Rosière – 67 mi
Stage 12: Mountain – Thursday, July 19 – Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Alpe d’Huez – 109 mi
Stage 13: Flat – Friday, July 20 – Le Bourg-d’Oisans to Valence – 105 mi
Stage 14: Hilly – Saturday, July 21 – Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Mende – 116 mi
Stage 15: Hilly – Sunday, July 22 – Millau to Carcassonne – 112 mi
Rest Day – Monday, July 23 – Carcassonne
Stage 16: Mountain – Tuesday, July 24 – Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon – 135 mi
Stage 17: Mountain – Wednesday, July 25 – Bagnères-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan – 40 mi
Stage 18: Flat – Thursday, July 26 – Trie-sur-Baïse to Pau – 107 mi
Stage 19: Mountain – Friday, July 27 – Lourdes to Laruns – 124 mi
Stage 20: Individual Time Trial – Saturday, July 28 – Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette – 19 mi
Stage 21: Flat – Sunday, July 29 – Houilles to Paris (Champs-Élysées) – 71 mi
Tour de France 2018 map

2018 Tour de France teams
AG2R La Mondiale (France)
Astana Pro Team (Kazakhstan)
Bahrain – Merida (Bahrein)
BMC Racing Team (United States)
Bora – Hansgrohe (Germany)
Cannondale Drapac Professional Cycling Team (United States)
Cofidis, Solutions Credits (France)
Direct Energie (France)
FDJ (France)
Fortuneo – Samsic (France)
Lotto Soudal (Belgium)
Mitchelton – Scott (Australia
Movistar Team (Spain)
Quick – Step Floors (Belgium)
Team Dimension Data (South Africa)
Team Katusha Alpecin (Switzerland)
Team Lotto NL – Jumbo (Netherlands)
Team Sky (Great Britain)
Team Sunweb (Netherlands)
Terk – Segafredo (United States)
UAE Team Emirates (United Arab Emirates)
Wanty – Groupe Gobert (Belgium)
Tour de France winners
Here’s a list of Tour de France general classification winners from the last 10 years; you can see the full list of winners here:

Year Country Cyclist Sponsor/Team
2008 Spain Carlos Sastre Team CSC
2009 Spain Alberto Contador Astana
2010 Luxembourg Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank
2011 Australia Cadel Evans BMC Racing Team
2012 Great Britain Bradley Wiggins Team Sky
2013 Great Britain Chris Froome Team Sky
2014 Italy Vincenzo Nibali Astana
2015 Great Britain Chris Froome Team Sky
2016 Great Britain Chris Froome Team Sky
2017 Great Britain Chris Froome Team Sky

Tour de France 2018: BMC Racing Team Earns Victory in Stage 3 Time Trial

BMC Racing Team claimed Stage 3 of the 2018 Tour de France on Monday as they set the fastest time in the team time trial.

The event returned for the first time since 2015, and time trial specialists BMC took full advantage as they set a time of 38 minutes, 46 seconds on the 35.5-kilometre course that started and ended in the town of Cholet in the Pays de la Loire region of France.

Team Sky finished as runners-up, four seconds behind. Here is the classification for the stage:

1. BMC Racing Team in 38:46
2. Team Sky in 38:50 (+04″)
3. Quick-Step Floors in 38:53 (+07″)
4. Mitchelton-Scott in 38:55 (+09″)
5. Team Sunweb in 38:58 (+11″)

For the full classification of the stage and the general classification, visit the Tour’s official website.

Team Sky had laid down the gauntlet with a strong effort, but having recorded an identical time over the first 13 kilometres, BMC were six seconds ahead as they passed through the second checkpoint.

Despite losing two seconds in the final section, BMC secured an impressive time ahead of Team Sky to boost Richie Porte in his battle with Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain Merida:

Sky rider Chris Froome was nevertheless happy with his team’s performance:

The result means BMC’s Greg van Avermaet has taken the yellow jersey from Peter Sagan, whose team Bora-hansgrohe set a time of 39:36 after dropping him.

Fernando Gaviria could have been donning the yellow jersey had Quick-Step Floors won the stage.

They got off to a strong start, passing the first checkpoint just three seconds back on BMC, but disaster soon struck as they blew apart on an uphill section and Gaviria was dropped:

Despite the setback, Quick-Step were able to regroup and only lost a further three seconds on BMC heading through the second checkpoint and finished a total of seven behind them in third place.

On Tuesday, the Tour will head to Brittany, as the riders start in La Baule and end in Sarzeau after a 195-kilometre route.

Meet the Americans Competing in the 2018 Tour de France

More Americans than last year will race in the 2018 Tour de France. Of course, only three competed in 2017, and only five will take the starting line in Noirmoutier on Saturday. That said, while the US still seems to be stuck in a Tour-participation dry spell, we do have two debutants this year—and all five American riders are under 30. Here’s a look at who they are and how they might fare:


Boswell spent five seasons with Team Sky after joining the World Tour, patiently waiting for his chance to ride in France. Despite doing his best—including extended time training with Chris Froome—to earn a spot on the super team’s Tour roster, the opportunity just never came. So Boswell transferred to Katusha-Alpecin this past offseason, looking for a new start. It paid off: Boswell will come to the race as a key support rider for Ilnur Zakarin, the team’s General Classification hopeful. But he’ll certainly have a chance to ride for himself when the moment is right.

Best-Case Scenario: With Zakarin’s top-five GC placing all but assured, Boswell goes on the attack in the third week, taking Katusha’s first Tour stage victory since 2014.


Craddock is back two years after starting (and finishing) the Tour de France for the first time. Since this is only his fourth Grand Tour, it may be unfair to expect more from him than supporting team leader Rigoberto Uran throughout the race (and especially in the mountains). Should plans change, though, he’s a perfect stage hunter via a long breakaway—perhaps in the third week, once the General Classification has been sorted and riders start to race more defensively.

Best-Case Scenario: Craddock goes on the attack in the Pyrenees during the third week to support Uran later on, but stays away to ride for a top-three stage finish.


Haga is making his Tour debut after steadily working his way up the ladder at Team Sunweb. His selection is quite an honor, as Sunweb aims to win this year with Tom Dumoulin. Haga is a great choice for the team, as he’ll provide firepower in the Stage 3 team time trial (he finished seventh in the Giro’s long time trial in May) and once the race hits the mountains in weeks two and three. He’s also a great rider to follow on Twitter, where his insights and sense of humor are among the best in the pro peloton.

Best-Case Scenario: After nearly three weeks of riding for Dumoulin, Haga rides for himself in the individual time trial and earns his first top-three stage finish at a Grand Tour.


Phinney raced his first Tour de France last year and almost immediately made his mark by spending Stage 2 in a breakaway and earning the event’s first polka dot jersey. It seemed to rejuvenate his career, which almost ended after he struggled to come back from a serious crash in 2014. But Phinney clearly benefited from his Tour debut, as evidenced by his eighth-place finish in April’s Paris-Roubaix, one of the hardest one-day races on the calendar. He’s fresh, healthy, and ready to make more waves.

Best-Case Scenario: Phinney makes the leading group on the cobbles of Stage 9 and escapes to win the stage.


After finishing fifth in the 2012 and 2014 Tours, van Garderen looked liked the next great American contender. But due to sickness, bad luck, and just plain bad legs, his yellow jersey never materialized. He skipped last year’s Tour, opting to ride the Giro d’Italia instead. Once his GC chances there faded, he went searching for stage wins and was rewarded when he took Stage 18 for the biggest victory of his career so far. He’s riding the Tour this year in support of Richie Porte, where he’ll be valuable in both the team time trial and in the mountains. With BMC rumored to be folding at the end of the season, he’s riding for his next contract as well.

Best-Case Scenario: Given a slightly longer leash during the third week, van Garderen goes on the attack in the Pyrenees to score the first Tour stage win of his career.

Article Source: Bicycling

The Tour de France is a parade of dreams

If I were to conduct a survey of cycling fans asking them to describe the Tour de France in a single sentence, the consensus would be something like “it’s the world’s toughest race,” or some other implication the Tour de France is our way of determining the sport’s best athlete.

And that’s true, but hope for an exciting yellow jersey competition lately has led to a lot of disappointment. After briefly being banned from the race, it appears the man who has had a vice-like grip on the Tour four of the last five years, Chris Froome, will be at the start in Noirmoutier-en-l’Île for Stage 1.

I’m here to tell you, if just following the guy in yellow can feel like an empty exercise after a while, the 2018 Tour has a few answers for you. Not just the obvious chance to yell about Froome’s legal case — I mean the chance to find real meaning, real beauty, the true soul of cycling, somewhere other than in the General Classification of the Tour de France. Even if the yellow jersey competition gets put away early by any of the contenders, make no mistake: You can still love the Tour de France at least another half-dozen ways.

For me, while I wouldn’t dispute the Tour’s signature hard-man, three-week awesomeness, I would prefer to describe the Tour de France as the time of year when the cycling world cares most about a race, and about the entirety of the sport. The result is that over the three weeks of stages across France (and if you don’t blink, Andorra), just about every aspect of the sport will be on display. And that will mostly be a good thing.

Here’s the basic structure of cycling: Fans pay the sport’s bills by watching cycling. Fans watching races creates advertising opportunities — I think I saw 45 different ads on one Belgian continental team jersey — and that sponsorship is where the teams get their operating funds. Bike companies deck them out in gear, which itself is an ad, while multinational corporations from all sorts of industries hand over the really big bucks for a chance to put their name on the jerseys and have it repeated over and over on broadcasts.

No race gets watched more than the Tour de France, not even close. Last year’s Tour was seen by as many as four billion people over the course of three weeks. Even if you parse through the numbers, it whittles down to a top end of 3.2 billion. By contrast, the Giro d’Italia’s self-serving, and likely exaggerated audience estimates top out at one billion.

Bottom line, once the organizers are done lying about the actual audience size, the Tour is still three times as large as the Giro. The 2014 World Cup viewership was the same, 3.2 billion viewers. [These numbers are getting very suspicious, but whatever.] The Super Bowl was down to around 107 million this past year.

Broadcasts of the Tour are aired in 190 countries. Right now there are 195 countries in the world. [Free SB Nation login to whoever can name the other five countries!] Riders themselves come from about 30 or so different nations, even without discussing whether Froome should count for Kenya. The effect is that there’s not only a great deal of money in sponsorship, but in broadcast rights. The Tour makes big bucks for its owner, the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO), which in 2016 generated €220 million in revenue and €44 million in profits.

From that money, ASO … keeps a lot of it. But it also does some important things to benefit cycling. It pays the considerable costs of all the teams and riders in attendance at the Tour, and offers another €2.3 million in prize money. ASO also owns some of the sport’s most important races besides the Tour, including the third grand tour, the Vuelta a España; and the Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Flèche Wallonne classics.

All of this is to say the Tour de France is everyone’s golden ticket. Its automatic invitation is the main reason 18 teams vie for World Tour status. And for the four wild card teams that cross over from Pro Continental events to the big time, it’s a chance to pay all their bills and remain competitive in their smaller arena. The fact that it happens in July means the Tour is where business for the next year is conducted. It’s where all the cycling brands — bicycles, components, clothing, accessories — go to show off their wares and start talking about sponsorship for the next season. It’s where riders and their agents whose contracts are expiring secure their next deal.

Everyone is at the Tour de France — sponsors, potential sponsors, riders, managers, agents, fans, journalists, and more. No other race can say this.

The Giro d’Italia, universally hailed as the sport’s second-biggest event, simply can’t match the Tour’s prestige. Sure, in terms of competition and physical demands, Froome’s last Tour de France win might not have been a whole lot more taxing than his recent victory in the Giro d’Italia, which tends to boast more meters of climbing than a typical Tour. But the impact of Froome’s Tour win is incomparable, in sponsorship and public perception.

The Tour, then, becomes the biggest stage, and everything you do on it matters more than everywhere else.

Winning at the Tour de France comes in all shapes and sizes, from bunch sprints to heroic escapes to the brutal tactics honed in cycling’s major one-day races. Sprinters do inhuman things to beat each other out in the bunch gallops on the flatter stages, skirting past metal barriers and other forms of disaster at close to 50 miles per hour. Climbers set out to cross mountain passes first, and just maybe pull on the polka-dot jersey as the King of the Mountains. Even the domestiques who make up a sizable portion of the peloton can occasionally set off on an early-stage escape which, however doomed it may be in the end, still results in hours of TV exposure unlike any other day of the year. And if the break succeeds and a stage victory comes, well, you’ve just bought yourself another year or more of job security.

I love this element of the Tour, how every day is the biggest day of the year for someone. I love, for example, how this year’s ninth stage of the Tour travels up to Roubaix, the gritty suburb of glamorless Lille in France’s industrial, half-Flemish Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. Here the stage will go over to the cobblestone warriors of the spring classics, guys who look more like draft horses next to the tiny mountain goats who dominate the Tour’s headlines, and whose pure strength powers them across roads that look like they did 100 years ago. Riders of this size have nothing else to do at the Tour besides assist their team leader in the interminable hours of racing between the final sprints and soaring climbs. But on this one day they are the stars, and they will race like it.

I love how the Tour becomes a celebration of all of cycling’s year-round greats. The holder of the World Champion’s title — Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe for three years running — will galavant around France in the iconic rainbow-striped jersey, easy to spot in the bunch, and even easier when Sagan is around, contesting the final meters of sprint stages. World champions aren’t usually Tour contenders, but they are towering figures in their own right. And the time trial world champions often dominate the Tour stages against the watch. The five bands of the Rainbow Jersey are just more colors on top of the rest.

Oh, and the kids. The White Jersey competition signifies the best rider under the age of 26 in the general classification, and the winners tend to grow up to become real contenders for yellow. But things get extra exciting when someone who the hardcore fans have tipped as a future hope goes on and does something special. Last year all of France celebrated two stage wins by Warren Barguil, a talented climber who brought home the iconic King of the Mountains jersey in the process. This year young hopefuls will be all over the course, led by ultra-precocious Colombian climber Egan Bernal, and other curiosities like Frenchmen Pierre Latour and David Gaudu.

Yet another Colombian, Quick Step’s Fernando Gaviria, is poised to hunt for stage victories, underlining yet another of the Tour’s endless subplots: The sport’s expanding horizons. Colombia is one of cycling’s most intriguing sources of talent, a distant and comparatively exotic nation (by European standards) seemingly stocked from one soaring peak to the next with great cyclists.

Colombians first made their mark on the Tour back in the 80s, fielding a full team and winning some stages with trailblazing climbers Luis Herrera and Fabio Parra. More recently, Nairo Quintana and Rigoberto Uran have taken second overall in three of the last five Tours, blocked only by Froome from that inevitable first Colombian victory.

Colombian fans have been seen in growing numbers along the roads of the Tour and back home. When Quintana burst on the scene in 2013 to take second and the climbers’ jersey, most of Bogota was waiting for him upon his return, jamming the streets of the capital as he rode to the Presidential Palace for a true hero’s welcome. Imagine what would happen if he won.

Even the polemics at the Tour are unlike any other: From fist fights to wars of words over violations of the sport’s endless unwritten rules, people get their backs up in France beyond what you are likely to see anywhere else the rest of the year. Not that I am rooting for riders to hit each other with water bottles or wheels or head-butts or anything else. Nope, that would be wrong. [cough]

The point is, at its best, the Tour is a parade of dreams — those of managers, sponsors, fans, consumers, sprinters, climbers, and anonymous teammates alike. And short of that, the Tour is never dull, never inconsequential, and should never be ignored, even when the yellow jersey gets pulled on to the shoulders of the same guy over and over.

There is something for someone in every rider, every kilometer, and every second of the Tour de France, from Noirmoutier to the final champagne ride around the Champs-Élysées.

Article Source: SB NATION

Tour de France 2018: Heat, sunshine to create sweltering conditions for first weekend

La Roche-sur-Yon, (AFP) — Over 30,000 security agents will be deployed to protect riders during the Tour de France, organizers said Wednesday after the head of world cycling called for a safe environment for Chris Froome.

The world’s biggest cycling race starts on Saturday, just days after four-time champion Froome was cleared of doping suspicions by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), headed by David Lappartient. In a post on his Twitter account, Lappartient said the UCI’s decision should be respected, as should “all riders, including Chris Froome.”

“I have heard calls, sometimes completely irrational, to violence on the Tour de France,” he said.

“I cannot accept that and I call on all spectators to protect all the athletes and to respect the judicial decision so that Chris Froome can compete in a safe and serene environment like all other athletes.”

Tour de France security chief Pierre-Yves Thouault told AFP by telephone that he shared Lappartient’s concerns but was ready to unleash a huge security operation to police the 10 to 12 million fans expected to turn up to watch the race this year.

“There will be 23,000 police and 6,000 firemen,” Thouault told AFP, adding several thousand private security agents would also be deployed.

“We are concerned with mountaintop finishes,” he said. “But we will not be focusing more on one team than on any other,” he said, mentioning one notorious mountain stretch of the three-week Tour.

“The top section of the Alpe d’Huez will have over 3.5km of railing on either side,” he said of the climb notorious for attracting huge unruly crowds where punches have been thrown, and urine splashed on competitors, including Froome.

“We’ll have several hundred officers on that hill, we know how it can be,” he said, stressing that communications between security officers were the key to safety alongside multi-lingual signs.

Keep Calm
A gendarme engaged in Tour security told AFP the key message was for all spectators to keep calm.

“We call for calm, stand back and above it all and don’t pay too much attention to any wild statements, the important thing is to stay calm and let us do our job,” he said

Thouault said security arrangements had been agreed between Tour organisers and the Ministry of the Interior with the Tour paying around four million euros of the security budget.

Kenyan-born Froome, 33, is a favorite to win his fifth Tour de France after he was cleared to ride following the conclusion of a probe into an abnormal test sample during the Tour of Spain last year. He recorded an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for Salbutamol, an asthma medication, meaning he exceeded the allowed dose of a permitted substance.

“I feel the need to say to cycling lovers, to lovers of the Tour de France, that the decision that was taken (to drop the case against Froome) was taken on the basis of reports from experts which led the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to consider that no violation of anti-doping rules had taken place.

“And from this point on, that decision must be respected,” Lappartient added.

Opposition to Froome had been building in France ahead of the Tour, with five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault labeling him a cheat and organizers barring him from riding before being forced to relent earlier this week and lifting the ban.

Froome is out to emulate five-time winners Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain when he competes for a fifth win in the three-week Tour.

A win would also make Froome the first man to win a Giro-Tour de France double in the same season for twenty years.

Article Source: Velonews

Tour de France 2018: full team-by-team guide

All eyes will be on the long-running French squad each time the route goes uphill and once the mountains swing into view they’ll blow the race apart or die trying. The first week won’t be fun but they have two big strong riders in Oliver Naesen and Silvan Dillier to protect their team leader Romain Bardet in the wind and on the cobbles. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem as the latter is one of the few climbers who can handle a bit of grit. Small team, big presence.

Tour heritage Second places for Bardet in 2016 and Jean-Christophe Péraud in 2014 remain the biggest achievements for France’s longest-standing team. Bardet made third last year but it was a close run thing.

Team leader Bardet is no stranger to the final podium now and he always produces something spectacular to accompany that consistency. His time trial isn’t yet as good as the rest of his game but it’s progressing.

This Tour will be a new experience for team manager Alexandr Vinokourov as it’ll be his first without a GC contender. With no big sprinter, no specialist climbers and no time-trial victory prospects either the pre-race meetings may well be a sombre affair each day. Three weeks of opportunities then for Luis León Sánchez, Omar Fraile and co to do what they do best, get in a break and be last man standing. If Jakob Fuglsang is in form he might make the top 10 but I wouldn’t put money on it. A multilingual outfit which seems to have lost something in translation.

Tour heritage Mixed, with Vino’s blood doping positive in 2007 and their exclusion in 2008. Won the Tour in 2009 with Alberto Contador and in 2014 with Vincenzo Nibali. And Fabio Aru won a stage and managed two days in yellow last year.

Team leader Fuglsang is a classy bike rider who is tactically astute and reads a race well. Always a threat if given too much leeway which isn’t often as the other teams know how dangerous that can be.

A decisive moment in the development of the Bahrain project as Vincenzo Nibali returns to the Tour with the sole aim of winning a second title. Everything has been done this season to make that a distinct possibility and there’s only a token nod to maybe participating in some of the sprint finishes with Sonny Colbrelli. Confidence is high for Nibali after he confirmed his credentials as one of the greats with a Milan-San Remo win at the start of the season. Watch this space.

Tour heritage A largely anonymous debut in 2017 with Janez Brajkovic their best in 45th overall, but things could – should – be very different this year.

Team leader Vincenzo Nibali is one of the most exciting and charismatic riders of his generation. If you give him a chance he’ll take it and if you don’t then he’ll make one. Fabulous descender and climber respected by everyone.

This is possibly the last try for BMC to conquer the TdF crown a second time and following last year’s disaster for their leader Richie Porte possibly his final chance too. After a slow start to the season the Australian has come into form at just the right time and with his win at the Swiss Tour confidence will be high. They have the firepower to win the team time trial and control any race situation so tactics aren’t a problem. Only playing the GC game and with only one card.

Tour heritage Victory for Cadel Evans remains their greatest achievement although they have also managed a brace of fifth places for Tejay van Garderen. Last year, with Porte nursing his injuries, Damiano Caruso was an unobtrustive 11th overall.

Team leader Porte lines up as sole leader with all the responsibilities on his shoulders but he’s used to pressure. The reported descending fragility is unfair as it’s not bravery that’s been missing, it’s luck. Could this finally be his year?

This is another team with something to prove and after the controversial expulsion of Peter Sagan last year they’ll all be motivated to put the world champion in the best possible position to take a sixth points classification win. Their GC hope, Rafal Majka, will be left to his own devices when the overall fight begins but he’ll be OK with that as surfing the opportunities, like Sagan, is one of his strong points. Proof that the Germans have a sense of humour.

Tour heritage Up and down, from worthy wildcards as NetApp-Endura to a major team built around Sagan, who won them a stage last year but was thrown out for dangerous riding. His mate Macej Bodnar’s final time trial win was some compensation.

Team leader Sagan is the most charismatic rider in the peloton today. Another green jersey is his goal and usually when he wants something, he gets it. Massive respect from everyone for how he races and entertains, on and off the bike. The Roubaix stage favourite obviously.

The biggest of the French wildcard teams always animate the race but the arrival of a new team manager in Cédric Vasseur has changed their approach, with the fiery sprinter Nacer Bouhanni dropped in favour of his former lead-out man Christophe Laporte after the pair fell out earlier this season. They don’t have a proper train for Laporte, so he will have to fend for himself after the kilometre-to-go kite. Prior to that it will be business as usual: get a rider in the break and hope.

Tour heritage In the Tour every year since 1997, their 10 stage wins are spread over eight different years. Their most recent came in 2008, since when they have faced an uphill task largely because of Bouhanni’s lack of consistency.

Team leader Laporte has a cooler head than Bouhanni and is more of an all-round talent while lacking his erstwhile team leader’s explosive speed; that’s earned him a string of wins this year including the rough-road Tro Bro Léon in Brittany.

It’s been a dreadful season so far for this squad with crashes, illness and bad luck meaning results have been few and far between. Relying mainly on the sprint prowess of Mark Cavendish, and a setup which serves the Manxman, is normally a guarantee of success but when things go wrong they need riders capable of stepping up to the plate and they too, young and old, have faltered. The team needs at least one stage win to steady the ship but the management hasn’t shown much direction or confidence in Edvald Boasson Hagen, so if he pulls something out the bag it’ll be a surprise.

Tour heritage Stage wins in 2015 and 2016 for Steve Cummings, and last year for Boasson-Hagen, plus Cavendish’s stellar 2016 (four stage wins and a day in yellow) give them an enviable record.

Team leader Cavendish is still chasing the all time record of Tour stage wins, however the sprinting competition is stronger than ever and his leadout train hasn’t had much practice or, more crucially, form. It could be the return of the Manx missile but he’ll need to take some chances.

An interesting mix of young and old that will be looking to take their chances where and when they can. They have some solid riders like Lilian Calmejane, who is a good bet if he makes it into the long range escapes, but their biggest challenge will be getting in one in the first place. A team looking for inspiration now that Tommy Voeckler is on the podium giving out the laurels instead of receiving them but definitely the one most likely to be chasing the overall combativity award.

Tour heritage Consistently good Tour performers with regular stage wins, a couple of jerseys and two decent spells in the yellow jersey. But always dependent on Voeckler, who provided most of the results.

Team leader Sylvain Chavanel, an oldie but a goodie and likely to wear the No 1 for his team because he comes first alphabetically. Realistically any one of them can be the homme du jour.

The surprise rider of the 2017 Tour de France returns with the same setup now dressed in pink instead of their previous lime green. Not in the least embarrassed Rigoberto Urán has been deceptively quiet so far this season but he was last year too. With his form a mystery anything could happen so team manager Jonathan Vaughters, himself a bit of a maverick, may well be relying on Sep Vanmarcke and Taylor Phinney for some early success while the race is in the north of France.

Tour heritage Urán’s stage win and second overall last year changed the equation for worthy triers who had previously placed Bradley Wiggins in third in 2009 (after Lance Armstrong’s disqualification).

Team leader Urán strolls through life and bike races with little apparent stress but pulls out a big result just when you’ve forgotten he’s there. The least excitable South American you’ll ever meet.

Having secured the services of last year’s polka dot jersey winner, Warren Barguil, this Pro Continental team has taken a significant step to being involved in the business end of the decisive mountain stages. However if this year’s results continue down the same path then they and much of the home supporters are going to be disappointed. Their new star has been dreadful and it could well be a return to sending guys in breaks for some TV time and the odd combativity prize.

Tour heritage Made their Tour debut in 2014 as wildcards and were typical plucky French triers, in the break every day.

Team leader Barguil came good on all his perceived potential at the 2017 race, two stage wins, the mountain classification and all done with the kind of panache that had the public entranced. Since then the bubbles seem to have left his champagne.

With no Thibaut Pinot in the team chasing a GC podium, Marc Madiot’s collective will be aiming to guide Arnaud Démare to more stage success and quite possibly a serious challenge in the points classification. His confidence is high, he can rely on a well drilled leadout train to place him in the right place at the right time and he’s not afraid of a bit of rough and tumble if it’s remotely technical. Arthur Vichot will be expected to participate in proceedings when the hills come along and a top 15 placing in Paris is possible – but a stage win will be more of a priority.

Tour heritage Regular stage winners over the years with a podium place in 2014 thanks to Pinot, plus some great histrionics from manager Madiot. Have always made their mark.

Team leader Démare already has one Tour stage win and at the age of 26 he’s entering his best years – the expectation that he joins the elite of sprinting is a reasonable wager. Days in the green jersey are on the cards too and if Sagan falters then who knows.

One of the few big teams that hasn’t put all its eggs in the sprint or GC camp by having an option for each with Marcel Kittel and Ilnur Zakarin. However with consistency on his side as well as a much more presentable profile, Kittel – the big German – has the advantage of a sprint train that works impeccably. The less reliable Zakarin might make the top 10 on GC but don’t be surprised if he falls off and exits stage left.

Tour heritage Hit the jackpot in 2016 with Zakarin’s stage win but were relatively quiet last year with sprinter Alexander Kristoff unable to win a stage.

Team leader Kittel knows how to win and when delivered in pole position not many people are capable of getting past him. It’s more a case of how many victories will he get rather than if.

Some people were surprised when Dylan Groenewegen won on the Champs Élysées last year but he wasn’t among them. The young Dutchman is fast, confident and increasingly a major threat to the established sprinters so expect to hear his name on a regular basis. The squad’s other rising star, and former ski jumper, Primoz Roglic is progressing nicely as well. His climbing has joined his time trialling and there’s a feeling this year will see a proper GC challenge being mounted. With Steven Kruiswijk and Robert Gesink to keep him company in the mountains he’ll be one to watch.

Tour heritage Massively successful through the 1980s under the Superconfex banner, they enjoyed a strong Tour last year thanks to Groenewegen and Roglic, who should improve – drastically – on his 38th place overall last year.

Team leader Roglic has steadily got better and this year has taken three stage race victories including the Tour de Romandie where he controlled proceedings with maturity. He won stage 17 last year and finished 38th but I’d expect a major jump up the classification this time around.

Anywhere else in the world Lotto Soudal would be that country’s top team – but not in Belgium. However they aren’t intimidated by their rivals and why would they be when they can rely on the massive thighs of their sprinter André Greipel who is a constant threat in any type of bunch kick. Part of the elite when it comes to the fast men, the German sits at the back of an impressive group who know what they are doing when it comes to finishing. When that’s not an option they have Thomas de Gendt to wear down fellow escapees or Tiesj Benoot for a sneaky late attack. No GC ambitions but all that counts is being the best Belgian squad.

Tour heritage Have tended to target stage wins rather than the overall apart from in the noughties when Cadel Evans was the leader and managed five days in yellow in 2008. Since Evans’s departure Greipel has picked up a healthy series of sprint victories, the last in 2016.

Team leader Greipel, aka the Gorilla. Underneath a scary looking mass of fast twitch muscles lies a perfectly coherent and intelligent person. He’s getting older and slightly slower but you wouldn’t want to suggest that to his face.

The Australian team comes to the Tour off the back of an impressive Giro where it was the other Yates twin, Simon, who sparkled. Now it’s Adam’s turn to wear the number one and hopefully improve on his fourth place of 2016 which is looking distinctly possible given his recent runner-up spot at the Dauphiné. He’ll be backed up by a solid group of riders who are more than capable of rivaling their big budget rivals whether that’s in the TTT or the mountains.

Tour heritage Have achieved the unique feat of taking the white jersey for best rider under 25 two years running with twin brothers Adam and Simon Yates, who finished fourth and seventh overall respectively in 2016 and 2017.

Team leader Adam Yates used to be considered the slightly more explosive of the Yates twins but after brother Simon’s three stage wins at the Giro I think it’s fair to say they’re both excellent. A stage win and a top five on GC is clearly possible.

Can you have too much of a good thing? In the case of the Spaniards you can because with three potential claims to the team leader position it might well be a case of too many chiefs when there’s hard graft and sacrifice to be done. Alejandro Valverde has been doing his usual thing of comfortably winning week-long stage races but Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana have been fairly inconspicuous. Too often the race tactics have fallen on the conservative side and if they are going to win a Tour they’ll need to be a bit more adventurous.

Founded 1980 Bike Canyon Manager Eusebio Unzué Sponsor business Mobile phone company Tours de France 36 Tour wins 7 Stage victories 31 Green jerseys 0 King of the Mountains 1 Days in yellow 73

Tour heritage Goes back to the 1980s with Pedro Delgado, hit the jackpot in the early 90s with Miguel Indurain and managed an anonymous win in the 2006 Tour with Óscar Pereiro after Floyd Landis’s drug ban.

Team leader Quintana carries the badge of leader but realistically Landa is on an equal footing. The Colombian gets the nod as he’s the one with previous GT winning credentials but he’ll need his best form just to be top dog in his own team.

The self-proclaimed Wolfpack has the most race wins in the World Tour this year and with the eight flat stages more than likely to end in a bunch sprint it’s highly probable the Belgians will be adding to that number. The reduction in team sizes won’t affect their leadouts at all as even explosive climber Julian Alaphilippe is capable of 60kph if needs be. With the best tactical awareness in a stage finish and Fernando Gaviria the ever-rising newcomer of the sprinting elite, they could well be in the yellow and green jerseys for a while.

Tour heritage Prolific stage hunters – Marcel Kittel landed five last year before heading for Katyusha – while Dan Martin finished ninth and sixth overall in 2016 and 2017. Less about the overall this year but the stage wins should keep coming.

Team leader Gaviria comes to the Tour already having been a points classification and four-times stage winner at last year’s Giro. Not afraid of anyone or any reputations he’s the most exciting sprinter since Mark Cavendish burst on to the scene.

The defending champions are going through a bit of a storm this year but it’s been business as usual on the bikes, so while the media debates the team continues its dominance of stage racing. Chris Froome will face more hostility than he did at the Giro but he seems impervious to everything thrown his way. If he falters, and that’s unlikely, then there’s Geraint Thomas and Wout Poels waiting in the wings to take over. The one to watch here is the young Colombian Egan Bernal who has been sensational just lately. Any one of the Sky line-up could be in yellow at any time but it’s in Paris that they are really planning for. The favourites for the win.

Tour heritage Controversial admittedly, but dominant in recent years apart from 2014. No stage win for Froome last year but Thomas’s prologue victory meant they led the race for 19 of the 21 days.

Team leader Chris Froome has won every Grand Tour now so his place in history is guaranteed, however there’s the matter of joining the select club that have five Tour victories.

The development of Sunweb and Tom Dumoulin go hand in hand. Not quite at the level of Sky and Movistar, they have a certain vulnerability in the mountains as does their leader but everywhere else they can force a selection. With Michael Matthews taking some of the attention in the first half of the race the team can cover two objectives at the same time. Green jersey for the Australian and in the process protect Dumoulin for the GC.

Founded 2005 Bike Giant Manager Iwan Spekenbrink Sponsor business Tour operator Tours de France 7 Tour wins 0 Stage victories 15 Green jerseys 1 King of the Mountains 1 Days in yellow 2

Tour heritage Matthews and Warren Barguil produced a stellar Tour last year with two stage wins apiece and the green and polka-dot jerseys. That will take some beating.

Team leader Dumoulin arrives at the Tour as a Grand Tour winner and that changes how seriously he’ll be watched and how the race will be ridden tactically. The world time-trial champion has no fear of riding alone and it’s only his high mountain performance which will be a question mark. Also: has he recovered from this year’s Giro?

Missing a big GC challenger and a top level sprinter, it’s hard to see what these guys are going to get out of a Tour which will be a tale of two halves. Classic style for the first bit and then proper mountains for the second. It would be easy to discount John Degenkolb from the harder sprint finishes but that applies equally to Peter Sagan. Bauke Mollema might ride into a top 10 place but competition is fierce with the arrival of some new faces – and the Dutchman isn’t getting any younger. They’ll need to race smart to win a stage.

the Swiss led the Tour for the first week in 2012 – and later Alberto Contador flew the flag in his twilight years. Mollema’s stage win last year was a bonus but will be hard to repeat.

Team leader Mollema is one of those riders who makes the front group in the mountains on a regular basis but then doesn’t survive the next selection when the real GC contenders let rip. And he usually has one bad day which sees him tumble out of a podium challenge. However the Dutchman is a wily character and a stage win isn’t out of the question.

After a disastrous Giro d’Italia, UAE willing be hoping Dan Martin and Alexander Kristoff deliver something in line with the budget that’s been committed to this project. The Irishman had a poor start to the season but things have improved with the warmer weather and he had a promising Dauphine. The current European champion, Kristoff is in a similar position and still searching for his top form. The first few stages will need to be good to him otherwise it’ll be all in for the GC.

Founded 1990 Bike Colnago Manager Giuseppe Saronni Sponsor business Airline company Tours de France 20 Tour wins 0 Stage victories 13 Green jerseys 2 King of the Mountains 0 Days in yellow 2

Tour heritage Started life as the Lampre team, who tended to come to the Tour worn out from the Giro, making the Tour something of an afterthought; in their new guise they propelled Louis Meintjes to eighth overall last year and will look to improve again this July.

Team leader Martin has made the transition from being mainly a one day hilly Classic type to become a solid top 10 GT rider. His last two Tours have seen him finish ninth and sixth so with that he’ll be aiming for a podium spot. Not as ridiculous as it sounds with so little time trialling.

This Belgian outfit provides the entertainment before the main event kicks off so expect a man in every break and a few top 10 sprint results when it’s technical or dangerous. They are nothing if not tenacious although a stage win will be a surprise, so realistically the combativity prize is their daily objective and anything else will be a bonus.

Tour heritage Last year was their first appearance and they rode it in the French way, getting in the break every day without fail and placing Guillaume Martin a consistent but unspectacular 23rd overall.

Team leader Will be decided alphabetically or maybe Yoann Offredo because he’s French and that’ll get some media coverage. They may be small fry swimming in the big pond but at least you’ll know they are present.

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Article source: The Guardian