Tour de France 2018: Predictions

The Tour de France starts this weekend. The route is interesting and the start-list is stacked. Here are my predictions for the race; most of them are realistic…

inside uran tour de france stage win

Richie Porte to be the best climber (and still lose)…

I like Richie Porte much more than I thought possible during his middling years with Team Sky. At thirty-three and with no Grand Tour podium he is ripe for both criticism and scepticism. Despite this, Porte is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with Froome and should be able to get the better of him on shorter climbs. He was strong in Switzerland and does look confident, but something tells me he’ll be bullied by Sky and Movistar. BMC will win the TTT but in the mountains I can picture Porte – possibly in yellow – struggling to hold it together.

willunga-hill-henao-porte

The year of Dylan Groenewegen…

The common consensus is that no sprinter will clean up this year with the several sprint stages – which should be proper full-pack sprints – being shared between the fastmen. However, the other common consensus is that if anybody can, Dylan can. Groenewegen has been in fine form this year and has finally put to bed the whispers that Fernando Gaviria is faster. He’s consistent too; do I smell a green jersey challenge?

Peter Sagan to win the green jersey…

Speaking of the green jersey, I think Peter Sagan will be hungry for redemption. There’s no denying that this year’s route favours the pure sprinters but there’s no denying that Sagan can mix it at that level. Not only is Sagan quick, but he will pick up those points which nobody bar Michael Matthews will get close to. Hillier finishes? Yes. The cobbles? Yes!

Pierre Latour to win the white jersey…

Egan Bernal may eventually have a more fruitful Grand Tour career than Pierre Latour but I believe the Frenchman will get the better of the white jersey battle at this year’s race. Latour’s role as Bardet’s number two usually doesn’t stop him from being in the leading group at the business end of each high mountain stage. Most importantly, he’s just romped to a second French ITT title and looks in great form.

latour-2

Jakub Fuglsang to come sixth…

Jakub ‘everybody quite likes me’ Fuglsang is about to launch the most serious GC campaign of his late blooming career. Unfortunately, this Tour de France is loaded and it’s difficult to imagine a situation where Fuglsang wins. I predict a comfortable top ten, comfortably off the podium.

Fuglsang Almaty

Jaspar Stuyven to win in Roubaix…

Stage nine. 20km of cobbles. Mons en Pevele. Wonderful. The last five Paris-Roubaix winners will be riding and they all could start as the bookies favourite. With the GC riders panicking (and probably chasing after the super talented Vincenzo Nibali) the afternoon will be crazy. Amidst the carnage, I’m backing Trek’s Jaspar Stuyven to ride away and deliver a much needed win for the team.

A good race for Movistar…

Predicting a good race for a team packing Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde, Mikel Landa and the often forgotten Marc Soler feels a bit pointless. But I think they’ll have a really good race. I think they’ll finally topple Sky. I’ve been sucked in by the Spanish giants and I believe the hype. Don’t mess it up guys.

Movistar Trio

A bad race for Mitchelton-Scott…

Mitchelton-Scott have dropped Caleb Ewan in order to back Adam Yates. Or at least that’s the line we’ve been sold. It looks far more likely that they’ll be lively on the cobbles… but where does that leave Adam? I expect the team to struggle for stages and Yates to be reduced to a top ten battle. Then again, I’m nearly always wrong when it comes to the Yates brothers…

Tom Dumoulin to go better than expected…

Now that the Giro dust has settled (okay, so it’s nowhere near settled yet) can we just appreciate how well big Tom rode in May? He limited his losses during Froome’s superman impression better than any other rider in the race. He’s a proper GC man now! Expectations are low for the Tour and rightly so. The route doesn’t suit him and Giro/Tour doubles are usually doomed affairs. However, he says he is feeling good and is now clearly the Sunweb leader. We can’t completely rule him out!

Bahrain to get involved in the battle for control…

Has Nibali ever had better support than Franco Pellizotti, Domenico Pozzovivo, Gorka and Ion Izagirre? If they can get on the same page at the right time, Nibali will finally have cards to play!

Vincenzo Nibali

Christophe Laporte to struggle…

Cofidis ruined all our fun by prematurely ending the Bouhanni/Laporte debate. Laporte’s been given the nod in a move which is good news for the future of French cycling, good news for the peloton, and good news for the many fans of the eye catching sprinter. Unfortunately, it’s bad news for Cofidis winning any stages. The sprint line up is far too competitive. I think he’ll struggle.

Julian Alaphlippe to win a stage…

I predict Julian Alaphlippe will win a Tour stage because he wants to win a Tour stage and he is amazing.

Primosz Roglic to win Alpe d’Huez…

My very early and flawed Alpe d’Huez shortlist included Dan Martin, most of Movistar and half of Lotto NL-Jumbo. I’ve settled on Primosz Roglic because he’s too good to stay out of the headlines but is unlikely to mount a sustained challenge over three weeks. Plus he won me money last year.

Roglic

The polka-dot jersey…

Roglic could even end up in the polka-dot Jersey… if he wants it. I have a knack of picking riders for this competition who have no desire to be crowned the King of the Mountains. I think the route has tilted back in favour of the breakaway specialists and the Tour’s mountain jersey is by far the most popular. Step forward Pierre Rolland?

My top ten…

I’m not even happy with this top ten. Why am I back on Nairo Quintana? How short is my memory? It doesn’t matter anyway; I’m still going to cheer Vincenzo Nibali. I’m a little worried about Bardet, and Valverde could literally do anything. Despite backing big Tom to be strong, I think he’ll eventually fall out of contention. Usual suspects Ilnur Zakarin and Bauke Mollema are likely to struggle this time around. Froome probably should win but I just think this will be one feat too far – he looked beatable at the Giro (before looking unbeatable again). Thomas and Porte will finally get their big results!

  1. Nairo Quintana
  2. Richie Porte
  3. Vincenzo Nibali
  4. Chris Froome
  5. Alejandro Valverde
  6. Jakob Fuglsang
  7. Geraint Thomas
  8. Romain Bardet
  9. Dan Martin
  10. Pierre Latour
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