The Tour De France starts this Saturday in Dusseldorf in Germany. It is one of the best sporting events on the calendar every year and this year should be no different. Welsh cycling has become more and more popular over recent years with the successes of people such as Becky James, Nicola Cooke, Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe. In terms of the Tour De France, Wales have only ever had 3 cyclists taking part in the history of the race, Colin Lewis, Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe. Both Thomas and Rowe are taking part in this gruelling event this year, we look at their chances and who are the likely contenders and winners for this cycling marathon.
For Cardiff born, Geraint Thomas this will be his eighth appearance at Le Tour, which in itself is some achievement. The reigning Commonwealth Road Champion is one of the best cyclists around and is a key component in Team Sky and their attempt to yet again be on top of the podium when the race ends in Paris on the 23rd July. Thomas prior to becoming a road cyclist was a World and Olympic Champion in the discipline of the team pursuit, and is a fantastic team man for Team Sky and is strong in all elements. Thomas has worked his way through the ranks at Team Sky, and became the team leader for Giro d’italia a few months back and was expecting to make a strong showing in the general classification. Unfortunately, Thomas had an accident early in the tour and had to pull out. Thomas himself has said he in unsure of his form going into this tour, so will be interesting to see how he goes. Thomas best ever finish in the general classification is 15th, which he has achieved twice in 2015 and 2016. If Thomas is fully fit and with luck on his side, which all cyclists need in this event, he has a great chance of his highest finish yet.
Luke Rowe was also born in Cardiff and also same as Geraint Thomas started cycling in an organised level for the Maindy Flyers. Rowe is the road team captain for Team Sky and is a very strong performer, driving the team along especially on the flat. Rowe is a European Champion in the team pursuit and is highly thought of. This will be Rowe’s third appearance at the Tour and his highest ever finish in the general classification stands at 136th, which happened in 2015. Rowe will play a key role in the team, chasing down attacks and keeping his team leaders safe and out of trouble.
The route this year does not have so many high peak finishes as other years which may make the race more competitive. Chris Froome has won 3 of the last 4 Tours and will be expecting to make a strong challenge this year. His form has been indifferent this season, so will be interesting to see if can find his form when it comes to the big event. In terms of the challengers to the throne this year there a number who could finish on the podium including Richie Porte, Romain Bardet, Nairo Quintana, Thibaut Pinot, Dan Martin and Alberto Contador. Where Team Sky do have a real advantage is the strength of their team, which is undoubtedly stronger than the other teams in the race, so if Froome needs support or is having a bit of an off day, then his team can rally around, this is not always the case for his rivals, however, with the fact there is less gruelling long climbs, will that have as big as an impact in previous years? We will soon find out.
My predicted top 6 finishing positions.
1/ Chris Froome GBR
2/ Richie Porte AUS
3/ Romain Bardet FRA
4/ Alberto Contador ESP
5/ Nairo Quintana COL
6/ Dan Martin IRE
It promises to be great viewing, and if you have never watched the event please do. How they race at the speed and the distances they do day in and day out is super human and makes for great television. Best of luck to them all and in particular Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe making Wales very proud.