The route for the most coveted event in cycling – the Tour de France – has just been released, and it seems like good news for defending champion Chris Froome. With two uphill time trials and grueling mountain stages, the Briton should be able to distance both rival climbers and strong all-rounders. Things could always go awry on the technical descents (Froome does have a history of crashing, after all), but he held his own on the downhills last year.
While the route slightly favors the climbers, it is not as heavily biased as last year’s. The route has been designed to reward the all-rounders rather than the specialists.
There have been a lot of changes since the 2015 tour. Riders have switched teams and teams have switched leaders, making for an exciting shake up.
Let’s have a look at our top picks for the 2016 Tour de France.
2016 Tour de France Odds:
Chris Froome (Team Sky): 6/4 – Seeking his third Tour de France win, the returning champion will start the tour as the clear favorite. The 2016 route lends itself to the well-rounded cyclist, and there is perhaps no current Grand Tour rider as complete as Chris Froome. He is able to hold his own (or better) in the high mountains, the time trials, and on the descents.
In many ways, the 2016 tour is Froome’s to lose.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar): 2/1 – The young Colombian came second in 2015, but was ultimately out-outclassed by Froome. In 2016, he should return stronger and more experienced. After all, it will be his first year out of the Young Rider classification.
However, if he is going to finish with the Yellow Jersey, he will have to greatly improve on his time trial and descending ability. While the 2015 route allowed a pure climber to remain competitive, the 2016 route will not be as forgiving.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo): 9/2 – Contador tried to conquer both the Tour and the Giro d’Italia in 2015. After a dominant performance at the Giro, the Spaniard was on fumes in France. In 2016, Contador plans to focus his season around the Tour. Being a natural climber as well as a strong time trialist will play to his advantage given the 2016 route.
If Contador is able to find the form he had at the 2015 Giro, he will be a serious threat for the Yellow Jersey, but whether it will be enough to hold off a very strong list of contenders remains to be seen.
Fabio Aru (Astana): 11/1 – After his teammate Vincenzo Nibali was disqualified from the 2015 Vuelta A Espana, Aru took over the leadership role and won the general classification. Though a great achievement, the competition was relatively weak due to the stronger riders being fatigued from the Tour and Giro, or abandoning due to crashes.
For 2016, Astana announced that Nibali will be focussing on the Giro and Aru will be given a shot at the Tour. With one of the strongest teams in the peloton putting their fire power behind Aru, there’s no doubt that he’s a threat for the Yellow Jersey.
Richie Porte (BMC): 20/1 – The Australian ex-Sky rider has mostly ridden in the shadow of former teammate Chris Froome. His work at Sky was pivotal in landing Froome his two Tour wins as well as Bradley Wiggins’ 2012 title. Now, with his new team at BMC, Porte takes on the leadership role and becomes a serious General Classification contender.
While a strong rider in his own right, his ability to perform consistently throughout a Grand Tour remains unproven.[Photo credit: Jaguar MENA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.]
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