NICE (Reuters) - A look at the top favourites for the Tour de France, which starts on Saturday in Nice:
PRIMOZ ROGLIC (SLOVENIA)
Team: Jumbo Visma
Grands Tours record: Tour de France - 4th in 2018, Giro d’Italia - 3rd in 2019, Vuelta - 1st in 2019
Tour de France stage wins: 2
Season’s results: Route de l’Ain (1st overall, 2 stage wins), Criterium du Dauphine (1 stage win)
Roglic has emerged as the undisputable leader of the impressive Jumbo-Visma team. A former ski jumper, Roglic has looked near-untouchable since the restart and was a cut above main Tour rivals Egan Bernal and Thibaut Pinot at the Criterium du Dauphine before he pulled out ahead of the last stage after a fall on the previous day.
An excellent climber, Roglic is also a well-equipped time trialist. He will start the Tour with a target on his back, but he can rely on a formidable team, which features Milan-San Remo winner Wout van Aert and former Giro champion Tom Dumoulin, although Steven Kruijswijk misses out with a shoulder injury.
EGAN BERNAL (COLOMBIA)
Grands Tours record: Tour de France - 1st in 2019, Giro d’Italia - no participation, Vuelta - no participation
Tour de France stage wins: 0
Season’s results: Route d’Occitanie (1 stage win)
Bernal, who last year became the first Colombian to win the Tour de France, started the post-lockdown season with a dominant display at the Route d’Occitanie before his form dipped among an Ineos team who have been overshadowed by Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma.
Bernal looked second-best behind Roglic on the Grand Colombier at the Tour de l’Ain and after again playing second-fiddle to Roglic and Pinot at the Dauphine he pulling out with a back injury.
He is, however, along with Pinot probably the best climber in the field and will be especially dangerous on the long ascents which are likely to decide the yellow jersey.
In Giro d’Italia champion Richard Carapaz he will have high-quality support too as Ineos try to turn the tide on a relatively disappointing season.
THIBAUT PINOT (FRANCE)
Grands Tours record: Tour de France - 3rd in 2014, Giro d’Italia - 4th in 2017, Vuelta - 6th in 2018
Tour de France stage wins: 3
Season’s results: Criterium du Dauphine (2nd overall)
A rider who excels when team leaders are left alone to battle it out in the mountains. Pinot has had a love-hate relationship with the Tour, winning prestigious stages and looking poised to challenge for overall victory last year before a thigh injury forced him out with three days left.
The mountainoue route should suit Pinot although his team are not at the level of Jumbo-Visma and Ineos.
TOM DUMOULIN (NETHERLANDS)
Grands Tours record: Tour de France - 2nd in 2018, Giro d’Italia - 1st in 2017, Vuelta - 6th in 2015
Tour de France stage wins: 3
Season’s results: Criterium du Dauphine (7th overall)
Even if Roglic is the team leader, Dumoulin finished on the podium of the last three Grands Tours he started, making him a serious contender, should the Slovenian struggle. He is a very solid rider, who showed great legs in the Criterium du Dauphine.
NAIRO QUINTANA (COLOMBIA)
Grands Tours results: Tour de France - 2nd in 2013, 2015; 3rd in 2016, Giro d’Italia - 1st in 2014; 2nd in 2017, Vuelta - 1st in 2016
After years of sharing the team leading duties with Alejandro Valverde at Movistar, Quintana has joined French outfit Arkea-Samsic. While the team is not as strong as Movistar, he will be the sole leader and have talented French climber Warren Barguil for company along with several familiar faces he brought in with him from the Spanish team.
A knee injury has hampered his preparations but he cannot be written off.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Martyn Herman
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