The 107th edition of the Tour de France begins on August 29 and after a shortened season, hopes are high for a classic renewal of La Grande Boucle.
Last year’s edition provided its own drama, with Julian Alaphilippe’s brilliant performance allowing local fans to dream. Meanwhile, defending champion Geraint Thomas’ defence was hit by freak weather curtailing the final two stages.
Thomas’ Team Ineos colleague Egan Bernal swept in to become the youngest champion since 1909 and with racing returning around the world, the Colombian is the
5/2 favourite to defend.
Boy wonder Bernal the man to watch
His 2019 success may have been a surprise to outsiders but cycling fans were well aware of Bernal’s pre-race form. After finishing 15th in his debut Tour in 2018, the Colombian won Paris-Nice in the spring before adding one of the traditional Tour warm-ups, the Tour de Suisse, and was flying by July.
Luck was on his side but fortune favours the brave and Bernal’s courage in attacking early during the latter stages paid off.
The 2020 route suites the Colombian, with the sole time-trialling kilometres scheduled for the penultimate day as the peloton climbs to La Planche des Belles Filles.
Bernal has shown he can survive three weeks of racing, while he already has a significant advantage over his rivals. The 23-year-old’s home in Zipaquira is 2,650m above sea level so he will have no issues once the Tour hits altitude.
Look for him to start the season strongly, with the Route d’Occitanie, the Tour de l’Ain and the Criterium du Dauphine built into his warm-up and a repeat performance could signal a decade of domination.
Beware the Wounded Welshman
That said, Bernal’s biggest rival could come from within Ineos. Four-time winner and
9/2 second favourite Chris Froome is back after last year’s injuries but it remains unclear if he is fully recovered.
Thomas also crashed at the Tour de Suisse but looked to be bubbling under at the Tour as he stayed within touching distance of Alaphilippe. A
15/2 shot this year, he was the rider who was hit hardest by the inclement weather that shortened stages 19 and 20, both of which suited him.
At 34, this could be his last chance to win a second maillot jaune and after his frustration at how last year’s race panned out, expect him to be at the business end of proceedings.
Kruijswijk can be Jumbo’s Main Man
Ineos filled to the top two steps of last year’s podium, with the third position taken by Steven Kruijswijk. The Dutchman forms part of a triple threat from Team Jumbo-Visma and might be the real joker in the pack at
Reigning Vuelta a Espana champion Primoz Roglic (
5/1) has shown his form by winning the Slovenian Nationals, while Tom Dumoulin (
10/1) has 2017 Giro d’Italia glory on his palmares and has a point to prove after injury and illness ruined his 2019.
Dumoulin might be the poster boy for this Dutch team but both he and Roglic are known for taking time from their rivals against the clock before griding through the mountains. Kruijswijk is more agile and with limited time-trialling, could be the one to watch in the mountains.
Three Could Prove a Crowd
Of course, Movistar proved last year that having three leaders is not always a good idea and there is enough talent elsewhere to shine. Nairo Quintana was caught up in the Movistar debacle but a move to Arkea-Samsic looked to have reinvigorated him earlier in the year.
*All odds correct at time of writing