We take a look back at last year’s Tour de France top 10 to see how the riders have fared in the intervening 12 months and – if they’re riding – what chances they have this year of reappearing in the top order of the race’s general classification.
1 Bradley Wiggins
After talk of a potential Giro-Tour double, very little has gone right for Wiggins this year. Perhaps the highlight of his season was during the Giro del Trentino when he had a mechanical problem with his bike, got off it and threw it so precisely that it parked itself against the wall next to the roadside. The Giro was a disaster – unwell, with a niggling knee injury, beaten by Alex Dowsett in the time trial, dropped on the climbs and out of sorts on the descents. All that adds up to Wiggins missing the Tour this year.
2 Chris Froome
By contrast, almost everything has gone right for Froome this season. In fact, his campaign is almost identical to Wiggins’s last year, with stage race success after stage race success. Victory at the Tour of Oman, second place at Tirreno-Adriatico then victories at Critérium International, the Tour of Romandy and Critérium du Dauphiné make Froome the man most likely to win the yellow jersey in July.
3 Vincenzo Nibali
Skipping the Tour
The Italian dominated a cold, difficult Giro d’Italia. Although the mountain stages were truncated because of the weather, Nibali asserted himself decisively on the few occasions when the opportunity presented itself. However, the Tour is not part of his plans this season. He will ride the Vuelta a España later this summer instead.
4 Jurgen Van den Broeck
Keeping his powder dry
It’s been a steady rather than spectacular season for the Belgian. Last year, he would have been a bigger threat overall had he not punctured on the approach to La Planche des Belles Filles, where he lost almost two minutes. The Belgians have high hopes of the podium this time.
5 Tejay van Garderen
Improving all the time
The young American won the white jersey at his first Tour and will go into this Tour as joint leader of the BMC team with Cadel Evans – fourth at Paris-Nice, third at Critérium International and victory at the Tour of California suggests he’s building nicely for the Tour.
6 Haimar Zubeldia
Hiding in the shadows
Zubeldia is a rider you rarely notice but he’s often there, just behind the overall leaders, quietly riding his way into a high position. He’s plotting his way towards the Tour in the usual fashion – anonymously. But he could again be RadioShack’s best rider.
7 Cadel Evans
Refusing to go quietly
Cadel Evans never knows when he’s beaten. He rode an excellent Giro d’Italia, finishing third overall, to stake a claim to BMC’s leadership role at the Tour. In the absence of the Froome-Wiggins dynamic, the focus on Evans and his young team-mate Van Garderen will be that bit sharper.
8 Pierre Rolland
Under a cloud
Reports that the French rider’s cortisol levels were unusually low on the final day of the Dauphiné and, according to the guidelines set down by the group of teams making up the MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling), Rolland should not have started. A low cortisol level could be explained by using exogenous cortisone, meaning Rolland may have some questions to answer.
9 Janez Brajkovic
Waiting for the Tour?
The Astana rider has done nothing so far this season to suggest he can be a contender in the Tour but that doesn’t mean he won’t pop up with a good result.
10 Thibaut Pinot
Building on success
The young Frenchman gave us one of the images of the Tour last year. When he won the stage at Porrentruy, his team director Marc Madiot was leaning out of the following car’s window, slapping on the side of the door, roaring encouragement. Pinot is a talent but the question is whether he can cope with the increased level of expectation.