Tour de France 2018 contenders: Chris Froome starts as favourite against challenge of Richie Porte, Nairo Quintana and more

Lawrence Ostlere
The Independent

Chris Froome will chase history at the Tour de France 2018 as he seeks to become only the fifth rider in history to have won five yellow jerseys.

There are plenty of challengers, however, looking to end his dominance of the Tour including BMC’s Richie Porte and fellow Briton Adam Yates, who rides for Mitchelton-Scott.

Here is a rundown of all the favourites for glory in Paris on Sunday 29 July.

Chris Froome

Age: 33

Nationality: British

Team: Team Sky

Previous appearances (finishes in brackets): 2008 (84th), 2012 (second), 2013 (first), 2014 (DNF – withdrew stage five), 2015 (first), 2016 (first), 2017 (first)

Stage wins: Seven (2012 - stage seven; 2013 - stages eight, 15 and 17; 2015 - stage 10; 2016 - stages eight and 18)

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Froome will begin his quest for a fourth straight Tour title and record-equalling fifth overall after his Salbutamol case came to end this week. He has won the Tour, Vuelta and Giro d’Italia in the last 12 months to hold all three Grand Tour titles at once and can now move level with Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain, and Jacques Anquetil on a record five Tour titles. He has proven himself the best Grand Tour racer of the age, but distractions will be legion as he aims to complete the first Giro-Tour double since Marco Pantani in 1998.

Richie Porte

Age: 33

Nationality: Australian

Team: Team BMC

Previous appearances: 2011 (72nd), 2012 (89th), 2013 (19th), 2014 (23rd), 2015 (48th), 2016 (fifth), 2017 (DNF – crashed stage nine)

Stage wins: None

Richie Porte’s name has appeared on the list of contenders at several Grands Tours in recent years but the breakthrough is yet to come. At the age of 33, time is running out for the Australian, an accomplished stage-race winner, to prove he can hold it together over three weeks. Terrible luck has followed Porte every time he has targeted the general classification at one of the biggest races, with crashes, illnesses and mechanicals combining to derail him every time. His recent win in the Tour de Suisse shows he has the form, and if Froome falters then his old friend Porte could be the man to profit.

Nairo Quintana

Age: 28

Nationality: Colombian

Team: Movistar

Previous appearances: 2013 (second), 2015 (second), 2016 (third), 2017 (12th)

Stage wins: One (2013 - stage 20)

When Nairo Quintana finished second overall as the best young rider in the 2013 Tour, it seemed a question of when the Colombian would win cycling’s biggest race. He has since taken the Giro and Vuelta crowns, but the Tour continues to elude him, despite further podium finishes in 2015 and 2016. Last year’s ambitious Giro-Tour double was a bridge too far and he could only manage 12th in France after a close second in Italy. With Froome racing in Italy this year, Quintana hopes focusing purely on the Tour will work for him, but he will need to contain the threat from within posed by ambitious team-mate Mikel Landa – who made clear in the last two years at Team Sky he does not appreciate playing a supporting role.

Nairo Quintana
Nairo Quintana

Could Nairo Quintana complete his grand tour set? (Getty)

Romain Bardet

Age: 27

Nationality: French

Team: AG2R La-Mondiale

Previous appearances: 2013 (15th), 2014 (sixth), 2015 (ninth), 2016 (second), 2017 (third)

Stage wins: Three (2015 - stage 18, 2016 - stage 19, 2017 - stage 12)

It is 33 years since Bernard Hinault took the last of his five Tour titles in 1985. That is an awfully long wait for another French winner, resulting in a weight of expectation and pressure which grows on any likely contender with each passing year. Bardet looks the best equipped of the current crop to cope with those demands, putting himself ahead of Thibaut Pinot and Warren Barguil by finishing second in 2016 and third in 2017. His AG2R squad are strong and fully committed, and a rivalry with Sky has been building nicely, both with their race tactics in the Criterium du Dauphine and with Bardet’s outspoken comments calling for Froome to be sidelined.

Vincenzo Nibali

Age: 33

Nationality: Italian

Team: Bahrain-Merida

Previous appearances: 2008 (20th), 2009 (sixth), 2012 (third), 2014 (first), 2015 (fourth), 2016 (30th)

Stage wins: Five (2014 - stages two, 10,13 and 18, 2015 - stage 19)

Only one man in this Tour besides Froome knows how it feels to arrive in Paris in the yellow jersey, and that is Vincenzo Nibali. The 2014 winner is a proven Grand Tour rider, having won four in total and completed the hat-trick of Tour, Giro and Vuelta wins. But there are questions over his form this summer after he skipped his home Giro to focus on the Tour, only to disappoint in the Criterium as he finished down in 24th place, complaining of allergies. Was that a temporary blip, or a sign that he is not where he needs to be?


Vincenzo Nibali is one of the best all-round riders (Getty)

Adam Yates

Age: 25

Nationality: British

Team: Mitchelton-Scott

Previous Appearances: 2015 (50th), 2016 (fourth)
Stage wins: None

For two weeks a Yates twin bossed the Giro d’Italia. Two months on from Simon’s run in pink, what can Adam do in the Tour? The 25-year-old took fourth place overall in 2016 and won the young riders’ classification, so a podium finish looks a realistic target this time around with Mitchelton-Scott electing to leave sprinter Caleb Ewan at home to go all-in for Yates. His season was interrupted by injury at the start, but he has bounced back and was second to Thomas in the Criterium, picking up a stage on the way. The list of white jersey winners that have gone on to take yellow is short, but Yates is not a man who frets over such records.

Profiles by PA

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