Tour de France: Team Classification
Who will be the top team?
Last year QuickStep led from the 1st stage to the 9th, but Movistar took over after the 10th stage. They had a really close battle from then on with Bahrain Merida, with Nibali, Gorka Izagirre and Domenico Pozzovivo pushing them all the way, even taking over the lead after the stage. But Movistar regained the lead the next day, thanks to Quintana’s win and Landa and Valverde also finishing in the first 12, and they held it all the way to Paris, to win by 12’33” in the end from Bahrain, with Sky at 31’14”.
The competition is based on the first three riders of each team home every stage, so it’s good to get guys in breaks that might win with big margins, but more importantly, it’s key to have 3 or 4 strong riders who can finish high up the results on all the key stages.
6/4 in 2017, 4/6 last year, 8/13 this year. They take this competition more seriously than any other team it seems, and that has paid dividends with 4 wins in the last 5 years. They have a massively powerful squad again this year, with Quintana one of the favorites and Landa and Valverde also looking really good and capable of finishing in the top 10 or 20 of all the tough stages.
Team Ineos +400
A team with Bernal and Thomas, the joint favorites for the race, Poels, Kwiato, and Castroviejo? They were my pick last year against Movistar, but they burned their third and 4th men out too soon on the climbs sometimes and they limped home at their own time to save their legs for the next day, whereas Movistar’s guys rode their own races and consistently placed 3 men higher up than Sky.
They will go well though this year you would have to think, they will be one of the fastest in the TTT, they will have Bernal and Thomas at the front on all the major climbs, and if Poels rode like he did at the Dauphiné he won’t be far off either.
Moscon, Rowe, Kwiat, and Van Baarle are capable of getting in breaks and taking time and they should place three riders pretty high up in the TT too, with Thomas, Bernal, Kwiat, Castroviejo all decent TTers.
Astana have been absolutely flying all season again, with wins coming from loads of different riders. Luis Leon showed in the Spanish Nationals and with his win in the 2nd stage of the TDS that he is ready and firing on all cylinders. Jakob Fuglsang is the 3rd favorite for the race and in superb form. Omar Fraile, Magnus Cort, and Alexey Lutsenko are always good for a breakaway stage win and Pelle Bilbao and Gorka Izagirre will be those guys finishing in the top 20 of all the mountain stages to help the cause there.
EF Education First +1400
Rigo Uran is joined by Tejay Van Garderen, Michael Woods, Alberto Bettiol, Sebastian Langeveld, Tom Scully, Simon Clarke, and Tanel Kangert and together that’s a pretty solid squad. Uran, Woods, and TVG will place highly consistently in the mountains and we could see Woods and TVG trying to get up the road in breaks too.
They should do ok, maybe 6th to 10th in the TTT and they are not great individual TTers either. If TVG crumbles in the third week, as often happens, or Uran disappoints after missing so much racing this season, they might struggle though, and there’s too much doubt there for me.
Mitchelton Scott +2200
Adam and Simon Yates will be right up there on the tough mountain stages, and they both seem to have dramatically improved their TT’ing abilities this year, with Simon winning the TT in Paris Nice and Adam pulling off some decent TTs in Andalucia, Itzulia and the Dauphiné. Together with Durbridge, Haig, Hepburn, Juul-Jensen, Impey, and Trentin they will have one of the fastest TTT’s here and will get off to a good start.
Jack Haig will be a huge help in the mountains too, he was in great form in Paris-Nice, finishing 4th overall and he also went well in the Dauphiné, helping Adam Yates until he started to get sick in the final two stages. He will be the ‘3rd man’ they need to finish high up every stage, and in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish ahead of Simon on some stages. Juul-Jensen, Impey, and Trentin are also good for the possible big breakaways that take lots of time, so actually, if Adam and Simon fire, Mitchelton could be a big value at that price, but no-one is offering e/w bets.
Groupama FDJ +2000
A lot of weight on Pinot’s shoulders, France expects. But there’s also a lot of weight on David Gaudu, Rudy Molard, Sebastien Reichenbach, Stefan Kung, and Anthony Roux to stay close to their team leader (and Gaudu too for the white possibly). He has got some really good climbers with him though in Gaudu, Reichenbach, and Molard.
It could well be though that we see Pinot and Gaudu on their own a lot towards the end of stages. Molard and Bonnet are possible break candidates, but I don’t really have much confidence in them as a team as a whole and can’t see them troubling Movistar, Ineos or Astana.
AG2R, Bahrain, UAE, and Jumbo Visma all have men going for the GC, well maybe with the exception of Bahrain and Nibali if his patter is to be believed. AG2R have a solid looking team, Bardet will have Vuillermoz, Frank, and Cherel in the mountains, but it’s more than likely he’ll be on his own for the last 4 or 5kms on the big stages.
Bahrain could be interesting if Nibali is true to his word and goes on the attack a lot, while also being able to stick close to the GC guys on the big stages.
UAE will have Dan Martin in the top 10 of a lot of stages, not just the mountain ones, but the rolling stages with punchy finishes, and Rui Costa, Sergio Henao and Fabio Aru can go well in the mountains, but could also be very valuable break candidates that could take minutes here and there.
Jumbo Visma are all here for Steven Kruijswijk and he will be well supported by Laurens de Plus and George Bennett in the mountains and they should do very well in the TTT. They look big at +3300, but I fear that SK will be all on his own too often on the key stages.
So it looks like Movistar’s to lose once again, but that will rely on Quintana, Landa, and Valverde going very well for all three weeks. Ineos will be a big danger of course, but if anything were to happen to Thomas or Bernal, the wheels would very quickly come off. Mitchelton-Scott look a big price, and I’m willing to have a small bet on them at +2500 just in case things go a bit pear-shaped for Movistar and Ineos, they have a very strong squad and could well be up there at the front on a regular basis with the Yates’s and Haig.
0.5pts win on Mitchelton Scott at +2500 with Bet365
5pts win on Movistar at -150 with Will Hill