Two mountain stages remain before the formalities on the Champs-Elysees this Sunday evening, and while the final result is yet to be decided, the likely winner has been wearing the Maillot Jaune for some time.
It’s the Tour de France and anything can happen. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: races are won and lost in the blink of an eye.
The unpredictability is why I refuse to suggest this race is over yet, but it’s Team Sky’s absolute dominance of the peloton, and the relatively poor showing from Froome’s main rivals, that have led many to say otherwise. Essentially, it’s Chris Froome’s Tour de France to lose.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the riders who, two weeks ago, had a dream to strive for when they left Mont-Sant-Michel.
Chris Froome – Team Sky
The reigning champion has ridden a flawless race and appears most likely take his third Tour de France title on Sunday. Granted, it might not be the most entertaining cycling to watch, but it certainly is tactically astute and he is the leader of the most advanced team in the field, so it makes logical sense he should be in the front.
He gobbled up seconds wherever he could, while his main competitors struggled with form, mechanical issues and temperamental motorcycles. He has been able to match each attack thus far, while burning a few of his rivals legs in the process. A worthy (likely) winner.
Richie Porte – BMC Racing Team
Started the Tour in the worst possible fashion, losing time in the early stages due to a mechanical issue and has faced an uphill battle ever since. The Tasmanian put in a fantastic effort on Stage 12 up Mont Ventoux, until a motorbike put paid to that attack. He has proven himself a worthy leader of BMC and has his team’s backing to lead them at the Tour in 2017. He should make it onto the podium by Sunday. We can be proud of his determination.
Nairo Quintana – Movistar Team
The tiny Colombian has barely ruffled a feather this Tour. He was one of the pre-race favourites and widely regarded as the only man that could feasibly beat Chris Froome. His training pre-tour was staggered to ensure top form, but unfortunately that has not come to fruition.
A year to forget, but will he return bigger and better next year? Of course.
Alberto Contador – Tinkoff
There was a lot of talk about Alberto Contador prior to the race starting. At 33 years old, many – myself included – considered this one of his last real chances at a Tour de France title, with the Dominance of Froome and Quintana, and emergence of Yates, Domoulin, Mollema and Bardet expected to be the future.
Unfortunately for the Spaniard nothing went his way. Two crashes in the opening two stages, followed by a fever, led him to withdraw from the race. It’s unknown whether we’ll see him back at the Tour again, or whether he’ll focus on another Grand tour, like the Giro or Vuelta.
Romain Bardet – AG2R La Mondiale: The young Frenchman is a future star and he represents the hopes of an entire country that so desperately want to dominate their race once again. Still learning the tricks of the trade, but should achieve a top 10 finish while learning plenty. 6/10
Fabio Aru – Team Astana: Not the result that Team Astana were hoping for, especially given the 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali was supporting. A good team on paper suggests something might be amiss within the Kazakhstani team might be amiss. 4/10
Thibaut Pinot – FDJ: Another future French star, unfortunately abandoned the race due to bronchitis and barely got to stamp his authority on the tour. 2/10
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