Underneath text was written prior to the start of the 2015 Tour France and hasn’t been updated since.
Last year, the Sicilian was merciless in the Tour de France after both Contador and Froome crashed out. The road was open for Nibali to shine. Seizing the opportunity he raced unrivalled to Paris, picking up four stage victories along the way. In stage 2 (Sheffield), stage 10 (Planche des Belles Filles), stage 13 (Chamrousse) and stage 18 (Hautacam) he outperformed each and everyone, raising the question: would Froome and Contador have been strong enough to cope with the Italian?
Until now, 2015 wasn’t too friendly to the Sicilian. But then again, 2014 wasn’t either, until the Tour de France started…
In 2013, all of a sudden the Colombian shone on the cycling firmament. Being only 23 years of age, Nairo Quintana took both the polka dot jersey, the young rider classification and the tough mountain stage to Semnoz while debuting in the Tour de France. Moreover, he finished second in the overall. Last year, Quintana was wise and skipped La Grande Boucle to focus on the Giro, which he won. Now he is ready for the biggest challenge in cycling – winning the Tour de France.
Last March he won Tirrenno-Adriatico in March, besting bot Contador and Nibali. But when going head to head with Froome and Nibali in the Tour de Romandie he finished eight.
El Pistolero had a brilliant 2014 season. Winning both the Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Basque Country in pre-season, he was in excellent form to shine in the Tour de France. But crashing out in stage 10 his big goal went up in a puff of smoke. Contador broke his leg and gave everything he got to make a comeback in the Vuelta. It worked out wonderfully, and he won his home race at the expense of Froome.
In 2015 he aims at winning both Giro and Tour de France. The first section of that mission was a huge success. In Italy El Pistolero annihilated his competition with racing in the offensive from day one.
In 2014, he crashed out of the Tour de France in the cobbled stage after crashing several times in the Dauphiné also. In the Vuelta Froome made a strong come-back and he raced aggressively, but he had to acknowledge the superiority of Contador, partly because he lacked a strong squad to back him up. Froome’s only wins in 2014 were the Tour of Oman and the Tour de Romandie, inspiring Team Sky to strengthen the team for the 2015 season with climbers Leopold König and Wout Poels.
Froome 2015 pre-season was plagued by injuries. His first serious test was in the Tour de Romandie – he finished third, yet outperformed both Quintana and Nibali. His piece the resistance came in the Dauphiné when he, backed-up by a strong squad, crushed his opponents and took the win.
Every cycling fan in France dreams of a Thibaut win in Paris. Last year podium, in 2015 the overall – is the 25-year-old Frenchman capable of such a feat? For sure, he has got the talent, but at the same time: last year he was 8’24” behind Nibali. So progress (a lot) is needed to make his countrymen happy.
Fourth places in both the Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour de Romandie, while he took the Queen Stage in the latter race.
In his years at Team Sky the sole goal of the Colombian was to serve. Since 2014 he is leader at Omega Pharma resulting in second place in the Giro, albeit at a respectable distance of 3’07” behind winner Nairo Quintana. Big question for 2015: will Uran be grown to be a serious GC contender in the Grand Tours? Given his poor performance in the recent Giro, he has only La Grande Boucle to prove it.
Tejay van Garderen
In June, the American was the only rider able to follow Froome in the Critérium du Dauphiné. He lost the race with a margin of 10 (bonification) seconds. Van Garderen is 26 years of age and upcoming Tour de France will decide if he is the right man to lead BMC. Last year he finished fifth.
Tour de France 2015: Images and more
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