The Tour is often not as exciting as the Giro d'Italia or the Vuelta but even so as the biggest bike race and sporting event in the world it has its own magic.
Will Chris Froome win his 4th Tour? He is yet to win a race this year and his time trial in the Dauphine was disappointing. However, form in the Dauphine isn't always real indicator to how riders perform in the Tour. If Froome is back to his best he might get a flying start from tomorrow's TT, at least over Nairo Quintana and Romain Bardet but unlikely to gain time over Alberto Contador or Richie Porte.
Froome's rivals include Romain Bardet, who was second last year. Bardet will look to win this year but will the curse of French expectations in not having a Tour winner since Bernard Hinault won the 1985 edition. Richie Porte is strongly fancied this year after winning the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Romandie. However, he lost the Dauphine on the last day when he was left isolated by his team, although he fought hard to have his first place just losing out to Jakob Fulsang, who could be a contender if he can hold his form. Also Porte has yet to really perform over the full three weeks of a Grand Tour but this year could be different. And what of Fabio Aru, Fulsang's team mate? At 28 he should be in his prime and he was very impressive when he won last Sunday's Italian Road Race Championship.
Nairo Quintana nearly won this year's Giro d'Italia losing to Tom Dumoulin in the TT on the last day. We will have to see if he has fully recovered from the Giro. With only 34 kms of TTs this year he should not be in danger of losing important time on his rivals but that has to be set against there only being three mountain top finishes. Alberto Contador had the bad luck to crash on the opening stage last year. Although, he can be counted on making the racing exciting does Contador, at 34, have the form to win the Tour once again.
Could it all come down to the final time trial on 22nd July in Marseille which includes the sharp steep climb up to Notre Dame de la Garde?
Stage 1 contenders
Will look at this in a post tomorrow.