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On Saturday, 198 of the world’s best cyclists will start the Tour de France. Only four have a realistic shot at winning.
That’s according to the highest-ranked American bike racer at the Tour, Andrew Talansky, in a recent interview with Business Insider.
“Given the Tour route this year, it’ll reward aggressive racing,” Talansky said.
“Unless you’re one of maybe three people in the world right now who can legitimately win the Tour this year, then, you know, you’re not looking to win the Tour.”
“So the only way to win something is to win a stage. That’s a big goal for myself and the team,” Talansky added. Asked who the riders were who could win, he said: “Froome, Porte, Quintana – maybe Contador.”
Indeed, very few riders can win the Tour. You need to train hard, pick the right parents, have a super-strong team with a massive budget, and be able to do everything well or excellent, including climbing, time trialing, and racing on the windy flat roads.
Of the four riders Talansky mentioned, three have already won multiple grand tours.
Here’s a quick look at where those four men stand heading into Saturday’s start in Düsseldorf.
Froome has won three Tours de France, but he has zero wins this year. He again has the strongest Tour team on paper, but with his lackluster season so far, he hasn’t looked this vulnerable in years. Still, he’s most people’s favorite to win. He’s just that good.
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Quintana has won a Giro d’Italia and a Vuelta a España. At the start of this year he said he wanted to win both the Giro and the Tour — “the double.” He ended up second at the Giro. Will he have enough left in the tank to battle in the third week of the Tour?
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Contador has won two Tours, two editions of the Giro, and three Vueltas. Like Froome, has zero wins this year, but he was runner-up in four important stage races. Contador is 34 and could retire any year now. Another Tour win would be huge, but it’ll be tough.
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Richie Porte is the only big favorite who has not won a grand tour. But he’s flying this year, having won the Tour Down Under and Tour of Romandie. In May he climbed 54,000 meters (177,000 feet) in a three-week training bloc. Then he was second at the Critérium du Dauphiné, the top Tour tune-up race. This is his best shot at winning ever.
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