Friday Group Ride #269

Friday Group Ride #269

It’s early maybe, to start talking about the Tour, but these things need time to percolate and fulminate, to gestate and metastasize. It would be easy to say that Alberto Contador will do the double, such was his control at the Giro that it’s hard to envision anyone putting him in real trouble in France, but the double is prohibitively difficult. To peak, win, recover and win again is not something the human body wants to do. You might almost say that a rider trying to be so good again, for three more weeks, would depend on his rivals to be bad in order for victory to come so easily.

So, Nibali. The Shark of Messina hasn’t show much since winning the Tour in 2014, but he is still among the best climbers in the world, and is better than most of the others on the backside of the mountain. Nibali was surprisingly strong last year. Perhaps he’s been keeping his powder dry.

Chris Froome has not. I’d even call him the favorite after winning the Dauphine. With Richie Porte, a pretender to the throne in his own right, as chief climbing domestique, Froome probably has the strongest performing cast, but good god is he ugly on the bike, all knees and elbows and questionable fit. I hope we don’t have to watch too much of the Kenyan on the front of the pack, going uphill.

My favorite is Nairo Quintana, which is not to say I think he’ll win, but he’s my favorite to watch, stone-faced and calm, churning out watts, sitting stock still. Quintana’s Movistar squad also features Alejandro Valverde, who will jump into the leader’s role the minute the younger Colombian falters. I expect Movistar to play a big part in crowning the Tour’s champion, whether it’s one of their own or not.

There are others, of course. Thibaut Pinot is the best of the rest, for me, but Romain Bardet could be coming of age just in time.

This week’s Group Ride asks, who do you think will be this year’s yellow jersey? Is he among the favorites, or is there a dark horse galloping into France to stand atop the podium?

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17 comments

  1. Aar

    Pardon my curmudgeonly point of view but I am delighted that I neither know nor care who is on form for this year’s Tour. Ever since I became convinced that professional cyclists and their leadership have no intention to stop cheating, I have despised myself for continuing to follow bicycle racing and the Tour each season. Further, I am happy that I don’t feel the slightest compulsion to follow the Tour this year – although I must admit that the cobbled and TTT stages could suck me in. That off my chest, I promise I will not besmirch RKP with this viewpoint any further (at least, not during the Tour) I know it is boorish and I don’t like being that person. I sincerely hope that all of you who do follow the Tour have much fun doing so.

    Please note that my seemingly negative viewpoint comes from the positive hope for bicycle racing to sweep all cheaters – past, present and future – from their ranks permanently and very soon

  2. Miles Archer

    I don’t follow professional cycling closely, but what I saw from Peter Sagan at the ToC impressed the heck out of me. I don’t think it’s this year, but someday he could win the Tour.

  3. Bruce Mackey

    I think Froome will take it although I’m rooting for Tejay. I think Tejay’s time may have come, especially after being nipped at the Dauphine. That’s got to burn and provide lots of motivation both for him and his team.

  4. Hoshie99

    Contador if healthy, otherwise Quintana.

    If a few stay upright the first week, it could be a great race given how many look good.

    J

  5. Kurti_sc

    If i recall, Quintana can’t time trial well at all. At the same time, Cantadors exciting style doesn’t do him any favors in a long tour. That’s what makes all of this so exciting. I say it will be a lesser known blossoming this year. Peter van ueberdinger-Karpov would do just fine.

    1. Andrew

      Actually, Quintana is a surprisingly good TT-er.

      I see one of two scenarios- either Contador controls things, takes small time advantages when he can, and pulls this thing out, or Quintana just blows everyone apart in the mountains and wins by a surprisingly big margin.

  6. Don Jagoe

    So much depends on health and crash-avoidance. Guessing Froome, if he can get over his skittishness, but LOVE to see Tejay, as others have said. That would really be sweet. Or Richie Porte, if the God’s smile in his direction.

  7. Tom in Albany

    I don’t think TJ is a TdF winner. He doesn’t climb as well as the top guys and doesn’t TT better than Froome and Contador.

    My pick is Nibali followed by Froome and Quintana. I agree that the double, in this day and age with drug impacts at least minimized – as far as we know – means that Pistolero won’t win again. That said, I wouldn’t put it past him…

    TJ may be top 5 but the French riders could well push him further down the top 10.

  8. Rob A.

    In terms of who I’m cheering for – if love to see Andrew Talansky ride really well. He hasn’t had the race days this year and was a little down at the Dauphine, but I just love his tenacity.

    Outside of that, the contenders all seem to be on form, I’d prefer a podium of Froome, Quintana, Contador. Here’s to hoping for some really entertaining racing and for minimal injuries!

  9. John Kopp

    My first pick is Contador because his boss, Tinkoff is really motivated and he may ride like the KGB is hot on his tail like Sagan in the TOC. But with no real ITT in the race and a lot of stages for things to go wrong, it’s anyone’s race. Perhaps a Frenchman this year, with Pinot, Bardet, and Peraud in the running. Should be a great race.

    I realize that some suspect doping, but in my view, drugs are a necessary part of sports medicine. There are many ways to cheat as Sky seems to demonstrate.


  10. Author
    Robot

    A few things:
    1) Teejay strikes me as a sort of modern day Hincapie, not that they are similar riders, but more that Americans will pretend he’s got a chance in these big races, even though no one anywhere else thinks he has a chance. I like the kid. I just don’t think he’s close yet.
    2) Nibali looks like he’s rounding into form at the right time, winning the Italian jersey again.
    3) I don’t believe Sagan will ever win the Tour.

  11. souleur

    Agreed Robot: Nibali is in form IMHO
    Tejay has great days, but seems IMO to be still immature yet, and not able to string 3 wks of perfect days together, with a strong TT effort

    I agree that its a mix up this year, and many could do it, more than in recent memory. Contador could, but did wane in the Giro. Quintana could, but the weight of the GC’r leadership I think will be heavy for him, and he cannot TT like he will need to. Froome, looks very human, and frail this year. And here are a couple more, JRod, he is long in the tooth, but capable, and has been respectable thus far. I would love to see Dan Martin put a string together, but thats much like Tejay unfortunately, so lets get on with it. Its boring to think about the givens. Lets get on with the interesting, the dark horses. So let me dream for a moment. Hows about Kwaitdowski, seriously, he has a shot. He’s a fuckin class act and he’s got the wherewithall, OR how about ole Rui Costa? He has spectacular form, and has been there all year in the front. Or lets go to the even lesser, lets really dream. Lets go with MEN with BEARDS and the PODIUM, Geschke…how about seeing him lead out, break away ever stinking day and landing the podium in yellow, or Paolini, drilling the 53×11 all the way in like he did this spring….railing it at 55kph all the way home…..huh…..

    it
    could
    happen
    not….

  12. Jay

    If its long shots that you want, how about Rafal Majka? He can climb quite well and isn’t bad in the ITT. If Contador runs out of steam mid-race he could possibly pick up the torch.

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