With the Tour de France Stage 1 just a couple of weeks away, it's time for me to make some predictions! Virtually no-one predicted Richard Carapaz's Giro d'Italia victory last month, and with Team INEOS' superstar Chris Froome and Team Sunweb's Tom Dumoulin both ruled out with respective injuries, this year's Tour de France could be the most exciting in a long time!
Should we expect a new rider to step into the fold and repeat Richard Carapaz's feat from the Giro d'Italia? I certainly think so!
General Classification Predictions:
⭐⭐⭐ | Egan Bernal (Team INEOS)
⭐⭐ | Thibaut Pinot (Groupama - FDJ)
⭐ | Jakob Fulgsang (Astana Pro Team)
It's becoming increasingly difficult to look past Egan Bernal for the Yellow Jersey in this year's TdF, especially after his maiden WorldTour Stage Race victory at the Tour de Suisse only a few days ago. I was hugely impressed by the young Colombians efforts and how easy he made it look; whether Bernal's duties are solely for Geraint Thomas or whether he'll be allowed off the leash to go for GC victory himself is the only doubt. However, he's definitely on better form than Geraint Thomas so it I think it would be stupid for Dave Brailsford to focus entirely on one of the riders, and should just let it play out.
My other picks are Thibaut Pinot and Jakob Fulgsang. Pinot is always in the mix in all of the Grand Tours, and in my opinion the provisional Groupama - FDJ team is probably the strongest they've had yet - could it be the year for a Frenchman? He definitely has a chance. Also, Fulgsang is on ridiculous form so far this year, winning the KOM competition at Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia Costa Cálida, the GC at Vuelta a Andalucia, coming 2nd at Strade Bianche, 3rd in GC at Tirreno - Adriatico, 4th in GC at Itzulia Basque Country, 3rd at Amstel Gold, 2nd in La Fleche Wallonne, winning Leige - Bastogne - Leige and also winning the GC at the recent Criterium du Dauphine (known as the mini - TdF). You definitely can't rule the Danish rider out.
⭐⭐⭐ | Peter Sagan (BORA - Hansgrohe)
⭐⭐ | Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)
⭐ | Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo - Visma)
Peter Sagan certainly isn't having the season he wanted with a massively unsuccessful spring classics campaign for the Slovakian all-rounder. However, his performances at the Tour de Suisse - a stage win, and three other podium finishes to win him the Points Classification - shows that he is on better form than many expected coming into the Tour de France. Whether BORA - Hansgrohe will enter a team built around Sagan, as they very usually do, or a team with GC intentions behind Emanuel Buchmann might be a big driver in whether Sagan will finish in Paris with the Green Jersey on his shoulders.
Michael Matthews and Dylan Groenewegen are my other picks for obvious reasons. Michael Matthews is almost identical to Peter Sagan in his riding style, and also seems to be on quite good form at the minute. Dylan Groenewegen is probably the fastest straight-line sprinter too, so if he can win every bunch sprint finish then he definitely could be up there challenging. Unlike the Giro, the winner usually comes from a rider that can pick up intermediate sprint points on the tougher stages too, so it might not be best sutied to the Dutchman.
(Excluding Egan Bernal (Team INEOS)
⭐⭐⭐ | David Gaudu (Groupama - FDJ)
⭐⭐ | Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo - Visma)
⭐ | Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Merida)
I've excluded Egan Bernal here as I'm backing him for the overall GC Classification. If he doesn't win that, he's pretty much guaranteed the Youth Classification (as long as he doesn't crash out!)
Groupama - FDJ's David Gaudu looks as if the young Frenchman will be in contention for future GC Classification at Grand Tours in the future, and I could definitely see him being there or there abouts at this year's Tour de France. He won the Youth Classifications at Tour de la Provence, UAE Tour and Tour de Romandie, and has looked very impressive this season. Definitely someone to keep an eye on!
My other picks are Wout van Aert and Matej Mohorič, both of whom have huge potential to finish high up in the GC Classification; whether, in their respective teams, they'll be super-domestiques, going for Stage victories or be allowed to ride for GC is questionable, but also two riders that you should keep an eye on!
King of the Mountains (KOM) Classification:
⭐⭐⭐ | Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick Step)
⭐⭐ | Giulio Ciccone (Trek - Segafredo)
⭐ | Jesús Herrada (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits)
It looks as if Alaphilippe will be going for the KOM Classification yet again this year rather than the GC Classification, and he should ease to it without any problems.
My other picks are the Giro d'Italia KOM winner Guilo Ciccone who should be in the mix, and Jesús Herrada who took a very impressive victory at the Mount Ventoux inaugural classic race last Monday. Both of whom are very competent climbers and if Alaphilippe isn't on his usual form could definitely be challengers.
⭐⭐⭐ | Movistar Team
⭐⭐ | Astana Pro Team
⭐ | Team Jumbo - Visma
Movistar usually win the Team Classification at the Tour de France and I just can't look past them this year. They have the strongest provisional start-list in terms of the multitude of potential GC riders, and they should really be unchallenged.
My other picks are Astana Pro Team, who also have a very strong team, and Team Jumbo - Visma which will be dependent on how Wout van Aert performs at his debut Grand Tour.
This isn't really a hugely competitive Classification however, so don't expect anything interesting here!
Feel free to tell me your predictions below!