Every year we say it, but every year it seems to be the same; this could be one of the closest editions of the Tour de France yet.
While Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) may have been one of the only big names to ride at the Giro d’Italia earlier this year, the others will all be lining up at the start in Mont-Saint-Michel on July 2 for a chance at taking glory in Paris three weeks later.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) will be hoping to go one better than his second place finishes behind Froome in 2013 and 2015, with the Colombian climber looking stronger than ever this year with his full focus on the Tour.
Likewise for Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), who came into last year’s race with the fatigue of the Giro victory in his legs and looked somewhat off the pace. While he didn’t quite do himself justice at the Critérium du Dauphiné, won by Froome, the Spaniard is still a formidable contender for victory, which would be the third of his career.
If those three are the stand out picks, they’ll need to have one eye on the outsiders in the race, who’ll be looking to cause an upset to proceedings.
The same goes for French pair Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), who went head-to-head at the Alps of the Dauphiné in June. Both will have one common goal though; to bring around a French winner of the Tour for the first time since Bernard Hinault won his fifth title in 1985.