The time has come around again, and on the eve of the greatest race that cycling has ever seen, it only seems right to give the people what they want, predictions. I will be diving into the General Classification, the Points Classification, the King of the Mountains, and I will give you a name for the Combativity award. The magic of Le Tour is always incredible, and getting lost in the mountains of France with my favourite sport is the best use of my time. We begin with the big boys, the main event and the main attraction, its the GC.
Tadej Pogacar – UAE Team Emirates
How do you look past the reigning and defending champion for a list of favourites for the General Classification? Answer, you don’t. Pogacar comes to the 2021 with a more complete and competitive team. On a regular basis during the 2020 edition of the Tour de France, Pogacar was isolated in his attempts to stay with the leaders. He passed every test they threw at him and even managed to blow the entirety of the collective cycling worlds minds when he overturned over a minute in the penultimate stages time trial to snatch victory. This year Pogacar is armed with some excellent climbers and this team could easily overwhelm the opposition.
Chris Froome – Israel Start Up Nation
So have we all just written the man they call Froomey? Have we all forgotten he has won 7 Grand Tours. It takes years of hard work, dedication, and a mountain of luck to even win one Grand Tour and he has 7. These wins for the most have been dominant too, including solo victories in the Giro, the Vuelta and the Tour. Now the difference this year is that his current team is far weaker than his previous team, a combination of Sky/Ineos. This will not matter the Froome though, and having watching Pogacar sitting alone with the leaders all year in the 2020, the blueprint is right in front of him. Right him off at your own peril.
Any of the FOUR – Ineos Grenadiers
You heard that right, Ineos Grenadiers are sending a team of 8 to the Tour de France, 3 of whom have won a Grand Tour recently and 4 of whom are very capable leaders in their own right. Without a doubt the strongest team in the mountains, Ineos boast a massive 6 of their 8 riders who will be in full force riding through the Alps and the Pyrenees. Tao Hart, Geraint Thomas, Richie Porte and Richard Carapaz all arrive at the Tour knowing they have the pedigree to lead the team, however have you ever heard of too many cooks spoil the broth? Ineos is trying to return to their almost robotic dominance and if it works, they will obliterate their rivals, however if they try to protect them all, watch their best plans go up in smoke.
Peter Sagan – Bora-Hansgrohe
You do not bet against Peter the Great, you just do not do it. He loves the colour and the proof is in the results. He has finished 12 total Grand Tours, he has never finished outside the top 5 when he has finished, he has won 8 of them, the latest of these triumphs being this years Giro. The most important part of this statistic though, he has won 7 Green Jerseys at the Tour de France. Last year he finished second in both the Tour and the Giro and I was ready to write him off. Then he came back and won the Giro and it was back to normal again. If Sagan is motivated, just try to stop him.
Arnaud Demare – FDJ-BigMat
I do not think I have ever seen a performance as dominant as Arnaud Demare destruction of the field in the 2020 Giro Points Classification. Demare beat the field, which included the great Peter Sagan by 50 points and won 4 of the races with relative ease. For years Demare had always been a nearly man. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride. We had seen him finish in the bunch sprints, but never was he really a worry for the elite sprinters. Then last year, something changed and now he is the man to beat. He comes into the Tour fresher than Sagan and I think he is the man who can take down the legend this year.
Mark Cavendish – Deceuninck-Quick-Step
The Manx missile loves the Tour de France, he is second all time for total amount of wins on the great race with 30 wins. He is only 4 behind the greatest cyclist of all time Eddy Merckx, and I cannot imagine he does not want that record. He is 36 years old, but he can still explode in a sprint. There is a reason he is nicknamed the Manx Missile, because when he gets it right and I think he will this year, he is unstoppable. He is an outsider for the jersey, but stage wins at Le Tour are his middle name.
King of the Mountains
Rafal Majka – UAE Team Emirates
The thing with UAE Team Emirates is that their squad on paper is impossibly strong, therefore it would come as no surprise if the tried to chase every jersey possible. Rafal Majka has experience competing in this race for the King of the Mountains jersey, something he has taken home twice. Tadej Pogacar will be supported in the mountains, however the team are still going to want to be in breaks and Majka will want wins, expect him to chase the victories.
Warren Barguil – Team Arkea-Samsic
The King of the Mountains competition at the Tour de France follows a trend every year, and it usually go one of two ways. It is either won by the leader of the GC alongside the overall race win, or it is won on the mountains throughout the race day in the breakaways. This year I feel like it will be won on the road, and who better to take on the moniker than Warren Barguil. The Frenchman enjoys a ride up the road in a breakaway and is extremely competitive. Team Arkea-Samsic will be one of the ‘also ran’ teams this year, so a shot at the Polka Dot Jersey might be the best result they could hope for.
Guillaume Martin – Cofidis
Another one of the French participants, however this one is his team leader and a potential future star. Certain teams are arriving at the Tour de France ready to through everything at each other and teams Cofidis will not be able to keep up. You would think that would spell an end to Martin’s race, however if the team put the plug on the GC challenge early enough, expect him to go stage hunting. Martin will want something to show from this competition and there are not many things better than the Mountains jersey.
Marc Hirschi – UAE Team Emirates
The combativity award is given to the rider who ‘animates the race’. This year I think we will have a repeat with Marc Hirschi picking up this award for the second time in two years. A rider always ready to go for it, whether that is in the mountains, on a flat, in a time trial or in a bunch sprint, Hirschi is always going for it. Expect fireworks when he takes to the road, the sky is the limit for this talented rider.
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