Tour de France 2018: Preview

chris froome - Tour de France 2018: PreviewThe Tour de France is the holy grail of cycling. Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana, Richie Porte, Romain Bardet, Tom Dumoulin, Mikel Landa, Adam Yates and title defender Chris Froome - they are all eyeing up an overall victory. Froome is targeting to join five-time champions Merckx, Hinault, Anquetil and Indurain. (Slideshow route/profile)

On Saturday, July 7th, the 2018 Tour de France starts on Ile de Noirmoutier, a small island off the Atlantic coast of France. As in previous years, the line-up consists of 22 teams, but as of this edition the peloton is reduced to 176 riders since the teams will field eight riders instead of nine. As always, the start list of La Grande Boucle features the world’s best riders. The likes of Froome, Nibali and Porte are targeting GC, while stellar sprinters Marcel Kittel, Fernando Gaviria and Mark Cavendish are focused on the flat stages. Obviously, the Classics riders – World Champion Peter Sagan, Olympic Champion Greg van Avermaet and last year’s green jersey winner Michael Matthews – and a host of breakaway specialists – Thomas De Gendt! – will be aiming for the stages that suit their specific talents.

Normally, Chris Froome would have been the undisputed favourite to win the 2018 Tour de France. But the four-time champion did race – and win! – the Giro d’Italia, while Marco Pantani was the last rider to win the two events in the same season as far back as 1998. So the Giro/Tour double has not been a very successful combination in recent history. Another big name, Vincenzo Nibali, has a question mark hovering over his head for different reasons. Not for trying to win two Grand Tours back-to-back, but because poor performances in preparation races. Yes, he won Milan-San Remo in brilliant style, but in stage-races he never finished on top 10.

The last big preparation races for the Tour de France, Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse, were won by Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte. Thomas will be on domestique duty for his team leader Froome, while Porte seems to be ready for his first Tour de France title. He finished the Tour de Suisse more than a minute clear of Jakob Fuglsang and Nairo Quintana.

Other major contenders in terms of GC are Nairo Quintana, Romain Bardet, Tom Dumoulin, Mikel Landa, Adam Yates, Rigoberto Uran and Jakob Fuglsang. Former ski-jumper Primoz Roglic is a serious dark horse as he won the Tour of the Basque Country, Tour de Romandie and Tour of Slovenia. These are races of almost merely one week though. His best performance in a Grand Tour is 38th – in last year’s Tour de France. You can also take a look at the actual Tour de France betting odds as given by 888sport.

Tour de France 2018: Route maps, height profiles, and more

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