Ten riders to watch at the Tour de France, live on NBC Sports and Peacock July 1-24 (broadcast/streaming schedule here)…
United Arab Emirates/Slovenia team
Winner of the Tour de France 2020, 2021
In 2020, Pogacar became at 21 the second youngest winner in the history of the race, after Henry Cornet in 1904, and the first man in over 60 years to cycle for the first time with the yellow jersey on the last day of a Tour. In 2021, Pogacar was more dominant, taking the lead on stage eight and keeping it until the end of the Tour. He won by 5 minutes, 20 seconds, the biggest gap since 2014. Pogacar enters as heavy favorite to join Chris Froome as three-time Tour de France champions for the past 27 years (not counting the stripped Lance Armston). He can also join Eddy Merckx as the only men to have won the Tour in each of their first three starts. Again, the question is whether a deep team like Jumbo-Visma can find the winning strategy to defeat him.
Vice-champion of the Tour de France 2020
The converted junior ski jumper was the favorite to win the 2020 Tour and wore the yellow jersey in the decisive penultimate stage. But Pogacar won that crucial time trial by a monstrous 81 seconds, easily erasing the 57-second deficit on Roglic. However, it was a historic Slovenian double on the podium in Paris. In 2021, Roglic withdrew before the ninth stage of the Tour after being compromised by a fall six days earlier. This year, Roglic won the Criterium du Dauphine, a key race in the Tour.
Vice-champion of the Tour de France 2021
Assumed the Jumbo-Visma leadership role after Roglic withdrew from last year’s Tour on his second Grand Tour. Played admirably, dropping Pogacar on Mont Ventoux en route to his second place overall, well behind Pogacar. Seven years younger than Roglic, he is perhaps not only the future of the team, but also its present. He was second at the Dauphine behind Roglic, and they could be tagged for roles as co-leaders of the Tour in a bid to dethrone Pogacar.
Ineos Grenadiers/Great Britain
Winner of the Tour de France 2018
Ineos is no longer the dominant force it once was. Neither does Thomas, who is 36 years old. Younger teammates Adam Yates and Dani Martinez maybe better shots on the Tour podium, but Thomas is the undisputed face of the team. He won the Tour de Suisse, which is one of the two main preparatory races for the Tour with the Dauphine. The Tour de Suisse field did not include Pogacar, Roglic or Vinegaard.
Israel–First Tech/Great Britain
Winner of the Tour de France 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017
The most decorated cyclist in the peloton with seven titles across the three Grand Tours, the last in 2018. Hasn’t been an overall contender since 2019, when he broke his right femur, elbow and multiple ribs, was in intensive care and underwent surgery for several hours after crashing into a wall at 34 miles per hour. At 37, who knows how many Tours he has left.
Seven-time Tour de France green jersey record
Won his last green jersey title for sprinters in 2019, which was also the last time he won a stage. Withdrawn from last year’s Tour before stage 12 due to knee injury. Rival Marc Cavendish won the green jersey competition, but Cavendish was not selected for this year’s Tour. He withdrew from the Tour de Suisse after testing positive for COVID-19 for the third time, although he said he had no symptoms.
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl/Netherlands
Vuelta a Espana 2021 Sprint Champion
Replaced Cavendish as Quick-Step sprinter and could be the green jersey favorite on his Tour debut aged 25. Won five stages at the 2021 Vuelta a Espana and has 10 wins in total this year. In 2020, he suffered an accident at the Tour of Poland finish line which led to him being placed in a medically induced coma. Injuries included brain and lung contusions, skull fractures, a broken nose and the loss of 10 teeth.
Wout van Aert
Six-time Tour de France stage winner
A support runner for Roglic in recent years, van Aert has added green jersey ambitions this year. You have to take him seriously, given his credentials: three world titles in cyclo-cross, Olympic medals and world championships in time trials and road races, a stage winner on each of the last three Tours and a fourth as queen of the mountains. ranking last year. He bumped a knee against the handlebars during training 10 days before the Tour and withdrew from the Belgian nationals as a precaution.
Only American to win a Tour de France stage since 2011
There was a bit of concern that Kuss wouldn’t make Jumbo-Visma’s Tour de France deep roster. But he is back in his usual role supporting team leader(s) Roglic (and Vingaard). In 2020, Kuss was often the man riding ahead of Roglic on the big climbs. In 2021, the Durango, Colorado native won a stage after Roglic forfeited. The last time an American won a Tour stage was a sprinter Tyler Farrar in 2011.
Double time trial world champion
Passed Australia Rohan Denis as the best time trial in the world. Fifth on a hilly Tokyo Olympic course. Here he will be favored to wear the yellow jersey on his Tour debut given that the first stage is a flat time trial. Ganna is also an Olympic champion and world champion in track cycling in the pursuit events.
NBC Sports research contributed to this report.
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