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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