[Article was written before the start of La Grande Boucle and has not been updated.]
Obviously, the seven mountain stages that mark the course of the 2016 Tour de France are paramount to how the GC turns out. In addition, the race offers two individual time trials – one hilly, one brutal uphill. Especially the hilly ITT should suit Froome to put time into his opponents, in particular Quintana and Aru. Pinot and Contador are other strong time trialists with GC ambitions.
The only contenders who did win La Grande Boucle before are Alberto Contador (2007, 2009), Chris Froome (2013, 2015) and Vincenzo Nibali (2014), yet the Italian aimed this year on the Giro and his main objective in France is to support Aru.
Out of all favourites Contador showed good form from the start of the season and onwards. He did win the Volta oa Algarve, the Tour of the Basque Country, and he was runner-up in Paris-Nice and the Voalta a Catalunya In Paris-Nice he was bested by Geraint Thomas, who is supporting Froome in the Tour de France, while Nairo Quintana outperformed El Pistolero in Catalunya. When Froome confronted the Spaniard in June’s Critérium du Dauphiné it was the Briton who came out shining. As this race is seen as an ideal test before the July showdown, Froome must be confident and Contador will have his doubts. He might have been good at the start of the season, both when he went head-to-head with Quintana and with Froome, he didn’t come out on top.
With Poels, Henao, Thomas and Landa Froome has a strong squad to back him up in the mountains, while Contador, Quintana and Aru all rely on the assistance of riders who have the Giro under their belt – namely Majka, Valverde and Nibali. Porte and Van Garderen share the leadership at BMC and it will be interesting to see how this unfolds. Porte started out strong in the Dauphine, yet he dropped of the podium at the last day in favour of Dan Martin, who seems to be stronger than ever.
Tour de France 2016: Favourites overall win
*** Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana
** Fabio Aru, Thibaut Pinot, Richie Porte, Daniel Martin, Tejay van Garderen
* Bauke Mollema, Romain Bardet, Warren Barguil, Geraint Thomas, Adam Yates, Mikel Landa
Tour de France 2016: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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