I was going to do a top 15 prediction, to incite a bit of ridicule & debate, but more importantly to point out the riders slightly further the classification who often get ignored. These riders are often a strange mix, riders of the future, ‘surprise’ performers, past top 5’s, quality riders who had a lucky break, smaller teams top 10 GC hopes & super domestiques for ‘the big four’. But even I’m sick & tired of predictions now, so it’s not going to be funny anymore, instead I’m going to point out some young riders who may creep into a top 20 GC slot, you may see them hanging on the back of the lead group, making audacious attacks, or they may be almost invisible & only seen in the second page of the GC results after the stages. I find this set of lesser known riders quite interesting, it’s where the future champions lurk, learning their trade, suffering for three weeks & watching the current masters at very close quarters, but learning all the time.
The very brief prediction bit
I think Quintana will win, followed by Froome & Pinot. Van Garderen will be seen clinging on for all he’s got & finish 4th, with last years champ Nibali taking the final top 5 slot after some bad luck, which escaped him last year. I’m suggesting that Contador will have one very bad day due to a fierce Giro, resulting in him going for the mountains jersey as a consolation, but he is Bert, so he could just as easily win the thing!
Green jersey, a close run thing with an on form Cav winning against an unsupported Sagan in the first week, due to Contador’s GC hopes. Mountains, Contador, reasons as above, obviously white jersey to the yellow jersey.
(p.s. I’ve put my money where my mouth is, and placed some bets on the above predictions, so I’ll let you know how I get on.)
Look Out For……
Warren Barguil (Team Giant-Alpecin)
With Kittell absent, this team are probably going to be built around stage wins & opportunities. The 23-year-old Frenchman has been tipped as a future star & may be given some space to aim for a high position on GC. He’s already finished in the top ten of grand tour, with 8th place overall in last years Vuelta, so don’t be surprised to see him up his game at the Tour.
The Yates Bros (Orica GreenEDGE)
Simon Yates looks to be the one in best form, but Adam is also just as capable of pulling off a big result at the Tour. I’m seriously suggesting that a top 10 is possible for one of these 22-year-old twins, if it’s not GC they’re going for, expect fantastic attacks, they’re really not scared of anyone. How glad is everybody they didn’t go to Sky & become mountain domestiques, these boys are proper racers.
Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN Qhubeka)
I get the feeling this team are going to make an impact in the Tour. Eritrean Teklehaimanot is fresh from winning the climbers jersey in the Dauphine, after getting into what seemed like every break! So he’s a man who’s not going to be content sitting in the bunch, and likely unable to contend with the best climbers just yet, we can see him trying to get the polka dot jersey at some point in the race, possibly even a stage win. But breaks, lots of breaks.
Merhawi Kudus (MTN Qhubeka)
Probably less well-known than his team-mate & countryman Teklehaimanot, 21-year-old Kudus has some impressive results & potentially a huge grand tour future. His 2014 performances include 2nd in GC in the Tour of Langkawi (2nd on that Genting Highlands stage) & 5th on GC in the Route du Sud (in the select Valverde group on the Val Louron stage). He’s still to perform at that level in 2015, but if you’re going to perform, the Tour is the place to do it. I think he’s going to be the revelation of the Tour this year.
Julian David Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing)
King of the mountains in the 2014 Giro, the Colombian is a punchy climber, often seen riding in the support of others. The absence of the Schleck’s this year may propel him into a great position within the Trek team, he may be allowed some real freedom. Mollema is his team leader, but since Tirreno, his GC performances have been poor (e.g. 60th in Dauphine), so this team will either get behind somebody else for GC, or it’ll be all for the polka dots & stages, I anticipate the latter.
Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18)
You’re not going to see the 24-year-old Irishman near the front on any climbs, but expect him to be taking any opportunity presented to him. He’ll likely be feeding off the bigger sprint trains in the finalé’s of the flatter stages, but he’s better on some of the harder sprint finishes, so don’t be surprised if he takes a stage, he took the scalps of Bouhanni & Sagan earlier in the year.