The battle for the yellow jersey begins on Saturday, when the Tour de France gets underway. So which cyclists are in contention for title? What challenges will they face on their way to claiming it?
The 2017 Tour de France – Will It Be a Fourth Win for Chris Froome?
Chris Froome, who will be heading to the starting line hoping for a third back-to-back win, hasn’t just been the bookies’ favourite to secure the coveted cycling trophy in the run-up to the race. One of the British cyclist’s biggest rivals, Nairo Quintana, also told the press he believed that Froome was likely to win the yellow jersey this year.
Quintana, who finished third last year and second in 2015, told Cycling Weekly:
“He always approaches the Tour perfectly, it’s a race he’s been brilliant at in the past, and I’m sure he’ll be at 100% condition in July.“
Froome, however, recently claimed that Richie Porte was the strongest contender for the win, following the Australian rider’s impressive performance in the Critérium du Dauphiné 2017.
“I still say that he’s the favourite for July and the strongest rider in the peloton at the moment,” the Team Sky rider told the Telegraph.
The Brit’s other key rivals include the likes of Alberto Contador, who has won all three of the sport’s Grand Tours at least twice, and Romain Bardet, who finished in second place in the Tour de France last year.
Earlier this week, fellow British cyclist, Mark Cavendish, who has won 30 stages of the Tour de France during his career, confirmed that he would also be entering this year’s event. His participation had been doubtful, as he has only recently recovered from a bout of glandular fever.
The Tour De France Course – How Tough is it Likely to Be ?
In October 2016, when the route for 2017’s race was announced, the director of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme stated that it had been designed in order to “break the catenaccio”. Members of the press and fans alike interpreted that as meaning the organisers wanted to stop Team Sky from dominating the event.
The 2017 route features steeper climbs, rather than longer, gradual ones, which could make it difficult for teams to stay together and protect their key riders. There are also fewer time trials this year; something that Froome will surely miss.
Whilst seizing the title again certainly won’t be an easy feat for Froome, the fact that he is something of an all-rounder means that he is still in with an excellent chance of winning the renowned event.
The 21-stage race begins in Dusseldorf on Saturday. The route takes the competitors through Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, then into France. The riders are set to cross the finish line on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on Sunday 24 July. UK cycling fans can watch live action and highlights on two TV channels: ITV4 and Eurosport 1.
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