The 106th edition of the Tour de France gets underway in Brussels on Saturday with competitors gearing up for a gruelling three weeks, taking in 21 stages across 2,162 miles.
Reigning champion Geraint Thomas is seeking to maintain Great Britain’s recent dominance of the Grand Tour in the absence of four-time winner Chris Froome. Team Ineos joint-leader Thomas is among the favourites for the maillot jaune but he faces several challengers, most notably from his colleague Egan Bernal.
Bernal is the 39/20 favourite after clinching the Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse in the build-up but it is two attractively priced French riders, seeking to end the 34-year wait for a homegrown winner that gets our support.
Thibaut Pinot Tour de France winner @ 17/1
Thibaut Pinot leads the Groupama-FDJ team on his return to the Grande Boucle having missed last year’s race through illness and expectations are high he can become the first Frenchman since Bernard Hinault to wear the yellow jersey around the streets of Paris.
The 29-year-old has been in good form this year, clinching both the Tour du Haut Var and the Tour de l’Ain, while he was fifth in the Criterium du Dauphine.
The big question for Pinot is whether he can handle the weight of expectation that comes with being a French rider in the Tour. He hasn’t finished on the podium of the Tour since 2014, failing to finish two of the four subsequent races.
Time trials have proven Pinot’s Achilles heel in the past but with just two this year they may not be a major factor, while the seven stages in the mountains play to his strengths.
Pinot’s compatriot Julian Alaphilippe also holds each-way claims to the Yellow Jersey, entering the race as the top-ranked male road rider in the world.
The 27-year-old was crowned King of the Mountains last year and has followed that up by claiming his first Classic at the Strade Bianche.
Adam Yates podium finish @ 47/20
The Mitchelton-Scott leader Adam Yates heads to Brussels as arguably the most in-form rider in the peloton after a consistent 2019. The 26-year-old was runner-up at both the Vuelta a Catalunya and Tirreno Adriatico, while he has also posted top-10 finishes in the Tour of Andalucia and Tour of Valencia.
The Brit won his first Grand Tour at the Vuleta a Espana last year and will be supported by his brother Simon for this year’s Tour.
The 2016 winner of the young rider classification is 21/2 to claim the yellow jersey but a podium finish is the safer option for Yates, who has never finished higher than fourth in the Tour de France previously.
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