With the recent accident of Chris Froome, Team Ineos appears to be on the ropes before the fight begins. Many would say that the team is so stacked that another will only slide in Froome’s spot. Maybe. But not so fast, my friend. The two GC’s left on the team are Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal. One does not seem to be on form, spending most of the off season gaining weight and the other is still a young kid who has not been tested in the leadership role of a major team in what is arguably the biggest bike race in the world. Yes, the kid won Paris/Nice, but the Tour is a different animal.
With less than two weeks until the show, the buzz has started. Who will win this one? Is there even a possibility that G.T. repeat? Will there be a Frenchman for the first time since 1985? Let’s take a look at who is in the talk:
- Adam Yates can climb like a cat, with great cadence and not showing his hand when he is does get into difficulty. He has experience and has been known to take advantage of someone’s weaknesses . . . BUT he still seems weak in time trialing although there is only one this year.
- Richie Porte, seemingly and on paper, can do it all. He started out the year okay, but it has come to the point now where everyone expects two things: a mechanical or injury. The years keep ticking by and this does not seem like a year any different from another.
- Vincenzo Nibali displayed his talents at the Giro this year and his experience of knowing how to trash talk and use the media to his advantage, but he burned boxes and boxes and cases of matches at the Giro. Same as Primož Roglič, he will not have enough for the Tour.
- Jakob Fuglsang won the Criterium and could be the dark horse. His confidence is in the right place and his team is confident in his leadership. He is very calm under pressure and seems to learn and capitalize on his mistakes. He just missed being on the top step of couple of times this season but kept pushing forward under a quiet personna of not much fanfare. The only problem I see is that he recently confessed the weakness of his three-week stamina.
- Niro Quintana is hyped every year . . . yawn.
- Egan Bernal will be forced to relinquish his shot by toting Geraint Thomas around with nothing to show in the end. And mainly because Sir FAILSford cannot manage . . . “Well, he has a lot of titles” . . . yeah, anyone can coach the Yankees and win a World Series.
- Mikel Landa has bitched and pouted his way around from team to team without much to show. He is all about Mikel Landa and that is and will always be the albatross around his neck.
- Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet have give the French some hope of seeing Blue, White and Red back in the top step. Bardet did not impress at the Criterium this year, whining that it was not hilly enough, and is missing the French championship to come into the Tour as fresh as he can. Pinot showed a glaring weakness in time trialing at the Criterium but has had a better year than Bardet. Neither of these riders will see the podium this year. Sorry France, you will have to wait.
- Mathieu van Poel . . . er . . . nevermind . . . he would rather ride mountain bikes.
- Alejandro Valverde will be there.
- Honorable mentions . . . Dan Martin, Enric Mas, Rigoburto Uran, and Steven Kruijswijk
What are your thoughts?