On Saturday, July 6th, the 2019 Tour de France starts in Brussels, Belgium. The line-up consists of 176 riders with all 22 teams fielding eight riders. As always, the start list of La Grande Boucle features the world’s best riders. Home rider Thibaut Pinot, young gun Egan Bernal and title defender Geraint Thomas are targeting GC, while stellar sprinters Dylan Groenewegen, Elia Viviani and Caleb Ewan are focused on the flat stages. Obviously, the Classics riders – Peter Sagan, Greg van Avermaet, Michael Matthews – and a host of breakaway specialists – Thomas De Gendt, Alessandro De Marchi, Bauke Mollema – will be targeting the stages that suit their specific characteristics.
Normally, Chris Froome would have been one of the undisputed favourites to win the 2019 Tour de France. But the four-time champion crashed heavily during the Critérium du Dauphiné and he is on a long road to recovery. Another pre-race favourite, Tom Dumoulin, is not competing either. The Dutchman crashed out of the Giro d’Italia and didn’t recover enough to be competitive on La Grand Boucle. Given Geraint Thomas somewhat doubtful 2019 credentials, the July showdown is expected to an open race.
The last big preparation races for the Tour de France, Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse, were won by Jakob Fuglsang and Egan Bernal. Yet, the Dane’s best performance in a Grand Tour was seventh place, while the young Colombian never rode a Grand Tour as a leader. How will he cope in his first major test? And, just as interesting, what about the joint leadership at Team Ineos? Thomas and Bernal are both named, which is a strategy that could backfire. After all, too many cooks spoil the broth…
Other major contenders in terms of GC are Thibaut Pinot, Adam Yates, Nairo Quintana, Romain Bardet, Mikel Landa, Rigoberto Uran and Steven Kruijswijk. Julian Alaphilippe, Thomas De Gendt and Vincenzo Nibali are expected to fight for the polka dot jersey, while Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews are likely candidates for the green jersey. If he stays on his bike until Paris, GC contender Bernal should win the young rider classification.
Obviously, all these thoughts would cross your mind if you are interested in online betting, while cycling is one of those sports that are extremely hard to predict. Which is exactly the reason why the Tour de France is such an interesting event to watch. Opportunities are everywhere and the fortunes of riders can change in an instant. For instance, Simon Yates was omnipotent in last year’s Giro d’Italia. He rode thirteen days in the maglia rosa and pocketed three stages before he cracked in the final week. Yet, he bounced back bravely by winning La Vuelta that autumn.