Preparing for the Tour
Team Sky, never far from the cycling front pages, hit the news again this week, when they appeared to publish an early announcement of their 11-man squad for the Tour de France. Whilst the list was swiftly removed from their website, and the BBC’s Matt Slater took to twitter to deny that the list was complete, it has provided much gossip fodder for the team here at Carry on Cycling.
The ‘provisional’ list consists of five Brits: 2013 winner, and national treasure, Chris Froome, Peter Kennaugh, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, and Geraint Thomas. Thomas, of course, is coming off of extraordinary performances at this year’s Paris-Nice, and Tour de Suisse.
Other team members on the list include Danny Pate, Sergio Henao, Wout Poels, and three Giro riders Richie Porte, Mikel Nieve, and Leopold König. König in particular is one to watch, as whilst he will be riding in support of Froome, his 6th place at this year’s Giro d’Italia and 7th at last year’s Tour de France put him in a strong position.
Whilst a few of the teams have already confirmed their line-up – and others have teased with a name or two – many are still to announce a full team.
Nonetheless, there are a few names that we can expect to make an appearance, giving Froome and Team Sky a run for their money.
The big four
A number of sports commentators this year are takling about ‘the big four’: Froome, Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador, and Nairo Quintana.
Froome has done well in his preparation by coming first in the Critéterium du Dauphiné earlier this month, whilst defending champion, Italian Nibali, has – as he did last year – focused more on training that racing in the run up to the Tour.
Spaniard Contador may well find that his form depends upon how much he feels he has to prove. He won his first Tour de France in 2007, following it up with wins at the 2008 Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. He also has official wins at the 2009 Tour, 2012 and 2014 Vueltas, and this year’s Giro, whilst his 2010 Tour win, and 2011 Giro win were stripped after a doping case. There was some talk of fatigue after moments in Italy where he looked laboured despite his eventual win, and it may be the case that one Grand Tour is enough for him this year. Nonetheless, Froome would be foolish to take his eyes off him.
Colombian Quintana is the quiet threat, with particular strength on the climbs, but Slovakian Peter Sagan, and Norwegian Alexander Kristoff may show some interesting rides as well – both having done very well in the points classification over the last two years.
Never far from our thoughts when it comes to the Tour de France, it will be no surprise that WIGGINS will not be competing this year, instead focussing on their 2016 Olympic goals with track work, and shorter road races.