With the Criterium du Dauphine finishing up with Chris Froome on top yet again, he has further cemented his place as race favourite for le Tour de France, the biggest race on the UCI calendar, writes Rob...
Beginning 2nd July, the 103rd Tour de France will host some of the worlds most famous cycling icons over a 3 week period. Superstars by the likes of Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, and Alberto Contador will be ferociously contesting the chance to be presented the illusive yellow jersey and being awarded the 2016 Tour de France champion. Other blockbuster matchups include sprint specialists Marcel Kittel, Andre Greipel, and Mark Cavendish, who are expected to put on a display of extreme athleticism for the green jersey.
The Tour de France kicks off in Northern France on the rocky island of Mont Saint Michel. Before concluding in Chantilly at the Champs-Élysées, riders will become vulnerable to the elements over a 21 stage, 3,519 km tour consisting of 9 flat stages, 1 hill stage, 9 mountain stages, and 2 individual time trials.
Coming into his own, Chris Froome is renowned for his climbing prowess, and this year the tour has reintroduced the Mont Ventoux summit finish. Rated one of the most demanding climbs in France, the last time this stage was part of the tour, Chris Froome tore up his competition and as a result won the Tour de France. Further displaying the pure dominance and freakish talent of this man were last years results, where he became the first person since Eddy Merckx in 1970 to win both the yellow jersey of the overall classification and the polka dot jersey as King of the Mountain.
Despite his near perfect lead up to the main event and a world class team consisting of Mikel Landa, Wout Poels, and Sergio Henao; Froome has some hot competition right on his heels.
Although he did not race at the Critérium du Dauphiné, Nairo Quintana has been in top form this year winning the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie, placing him 3rd in the current overall UCI standings. He also has a good record at the Tour de France, placing 2nd twice (2013, 2015) behind Froome both times. Further, he has remarkable results for the King of the Mountain accolade, placing 1st and 2nd in 2013, 2015 respectively.
Nevertheless, the Dauphiné is typically an extremely crucial lead up race for the Tour, where competing against his rivals at the Dauphiné could have done Quintana the world of good.
Long time sensation El Pistolero (Alberto Contador) has a jam-packed archive of impressive results with 14 Grandtour wins, 66 Pro wins and recently placing 5th at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Despite not finishing on the podium at the Dauphiné, Contador had an impressive last day where he stuck it to Froome, attacking him twice and forcing Froome to chase alone. The El Pistolero is a fierce competitor who will compete until his mind and body are completely broken, and although the tactic wasn’t successful, the fact that it came on the last day of riding, suggests that the 33 year old still has plenty of juice in the tank.
After having the pleasure of hosting Froome at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour last year, it is clear that he is not only an exceptional athlete, but also an all round top bloke. Because of this I hope and believe that he will be the 2016 Tour de France winner.
See you at the 2017 JHST Froomey!!