Tour de France ones to watch

Tadej Pogacar (centre), Primoz Roglic (left) and Richie Porte (proper) completed on the 2020 podium

The 2021 Tour de France begins on Saturday with Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic primed to repeat final yr’s duel that noticed Pogacar win in one of many race’s most dramatic finales.

But loads of different riders are hoping to rival the Slovenian duo for the yellow jersey over three gruelling weeks, ending in Paris on 18 July.

The inexperienced factors, polka dot mountains and white younger rider’s jerseys in addition to stage wins are up for grabs.

BBC Sport seems on the riders to watch.

Tadej Pogacar – UAE-Team Emirates

The reigning champion overhauled Roglic in gorgeous fashion on the penultimate stage’s time trial throughout final yr’s rescheduled race and has carried that type into this season beautifully.

The UAE-Team Emirates rider has received the distinguished stage race Tirreno-Adriatico, ‘monument’ basic Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the UAE Tour and his native Tour of Slovenia already this yr.

Still simply 22, Pogacar may grow to be one of many all-time Tour greats and appears to have a stronger staff round him this yr, with one other breakout star of 2020 – Marc Hirschi – having joined.

Primoz Roglic – Team Jumbo-Visma

Roglic, 31, responded impressively to his Tour heartbreak final yr by successful Liege-Bastogne-Liege and defending his title on the Vuelta a Espana.

He has not raced a lot this yr, preferring to prepare at altitude, however has had success – together with beating Pogacar to win the Tour of the Basque Country title.

Jumbo-Visma additionally boast an completed Tour line-up, together with Steven Kruijswijk, Sepp Kuss, Wout van Aert and Tony Martin, however how most of the scars of final yr stay?

Geraint THomas
Richie Porte (left), Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart will all race at this yr’s Tour

Geraint Thomas – Ineos Grenadiers

After a poor season noticed him left off the Ineos roster final yr, British 2018 winner Thomas returns in quest of his second title in a lot better type.

The Welshman, 35, received the Tour de Romandie in May, took a stage win and third total on the Criterium du Dauphine and completed third on the Volta a Catalunya earlier within the season.

While Thomas is probably going to be Ineos’ chief, the British outfit are characteristically not in need of different choices, with former Giro d’Italia champions Tao Geoghegan Hart, 26, and Richard Carapaz, 28, in addition to final yr’s third-place finisher – 36-year-old Dauphine champion Richie Porte – all posing a normal classification risk.

David Gaudu – Groupama FDJ / Julian Alaphilippe – Deceuninck-Quick-Step

It has been 36 years since a Frenchman received the Tour title and, whereas that streak is unlikely to finish in 2021, there are two dwelling riders particularly who may animate the race.

With Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet set to miss the race, search for David Gaudu, 24, to make a step up as a normal classification contender following a formidable eighth ultimately yr’s Vuelta, which included two stage wins.

World champion Alaphilippe, 29, flirted with ending France’s hoodoo in 2019 earlier than he was lastly overhauled by Egan Bernal and total victory is once more not his essential purpose, however anticipate him to strive to add to his 5 stage wins with typical panache.

Mark Cavendish (centre)
Cavendish (centre) had failed to win a race for practically three years earlier than claiming 4 levels on the Tour of Turkey

Mark Cavendish – Deceuninck-Quick-Step

After a knee harm to Ireland’s Sam Bennett of Deceuninck-Quick Step, in comes one in all biking’s most profitable riders. No-one anticipated a resurgent, 36-year-old, Cavendish to seem on the Tour this yr, however he now has an opportunity to add to his tally of 30 Tour stage wins – simply 4 in need of Eddy Merckx’s all-time file.

Bennett, 30, had turned solely the second Irishman after Sean Kelly to declare the inexperienced jersey final yr – holding off file seven-time factors classification winner Peter Sagan and successful two levels, together with the finale in Paris.

Sagan has taken some spectacular victories this season, Caleb Ewan may show the quickest sprinter within the race and the all-round abilities Wout van Aert and debutant Mathieu van der Poel may make the factors classification a thriller this yr.

But nothing will trump the return of Britain’s Cavendish, so followers will likely be hoping that age has not taken an excessive amount of tempo out of the pocket rocket’s legs.

Simon Yates – Team Bike-Exchange

After a stage win and third total at this yr’s Giro, Simon Yates will head to the Tour in quest of stage wins moderately than total victory.

It’s a tactic that is labored very properly earlier than, with the 28-year-old claiming two levels in 2019.

Chris Froome
Froome received the Tour for Team Sky (now Ineos) in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017

Chris Froome – Israel Start-Up Nation

Britain’s Froome won’t be successful a record-equalling fifth Tour title this yr – the person himself has stated so and he’ll ride in support of Michael Woods as an alternative of as chief.

But there’ll nonetheless be loads of intrigue round Froome – he has misplaced vital time in most races this season as he continues to get better from severe accidents sustained in a 2019 crash and, at 36, there are questions round whether or not he’ll ever rediscover the shape to compete on the highest stage.

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