A glance at Tour de France yellow jersey favorites with predictions from NBC Sports analysts going into the three-week stage race …
2019 Tour de France champion
Team: Ineos Grenadiers
Last year, Bernal ascended mid-Tour to become Ineos’ leader and, at 22, the youngest Tour de France champion in more than 100 years. Ineos’ hopes for an eighth Tour title in nine years largely rest with the Colombian after it left past Tour champions Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas off this year’s roster. Bernal’s most accomplished teammate is Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz, who won the 2019 Giro d’Italia.
Bernal is NBC Sports analyst Bob Roll‘s pick to win the Tour, though he withdrew after three stages of the Criterium du Dauphine with a sore back earlier this month.
“I just think that Ineos is so clever with their preparations for this one race,” Roll said. “He’s got a very capable team, no matter who they take to the Tour de France. I think we did not see the real Egan in the last couple of races.”
2019 Vuelta a Espana champion
The 2007 World junior team ski jumping champion blossomed into a Grand Tour general classification contender the last two seasons. Roglic, who suffered this scary crash before leaving ski jumping, leads the Tour’s other top-tier team, Jumbo-Visma. Many believe that a combination of Ineos’ shuffling (notably the absences of the aging Froome and Thomas) and Jumbo-Visma’s depth could call for a changing of the guard in the peloton.
The 30-year-old is NBC Sports analyst Christian Vande Velde‘s pick to win the Tour. Roglic, a fourth-place finisher in his last Tour start in 2018, has accomplished help in Tom Dumoulin (2018 Tour runner-up) and a promising climber in American 25-year-old Sepp Kuss. Unfortunately, Roglic will not have 2019 Tour third-place finisher Steven Kruijswijk, who dislocated and fractured his shoulder in the Criterium du Dauphine.
“Even though [Roglic] crashed out of the Dauphine [withdrawing as a precaution while leading] … I still think he’s the strongest guy going right now, and that’s all we have to go off of,” Vande Velde said. “We don’t have much.”
2013, 2015 Tour de France runner-up
Quintana hopes to be rejuvenated with a new team after being part of Movistar’s three-headed Tour leadership with Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde that produced a best finish of sixth between 2018 and 2019. Quintana, a 30-year-old who was once Froome’s chief rival, also did not finish the Criterium du Dauphine (knee pain). Already with Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana titles, the Colombian can become the eighth cyclist to win all three Grand Tours.
2014 Tour de France third-place finisher
Considered the best chance for a Frenchman to win the Tour for the first time since Bernard Hinault‘s last of five titles in 1985. Before this 34-year drought, the longest span between French wins in Tour history dating to 1903 was seven races. Pinot, 30, failed to finish his last three Tour starts. In 2019, he tearfully abandoned during stage 19 with a leg injury while in fifth place in the overall standings. If Pinot struggles this year, the French will pin hopes on Julian Alaphilippe, who surprisingly wore the yellow jersey for 14 days last year before ultimately finishing fifth. And Romain Bardet, who was second in 2016 and third in 2017.
2019 Vuelta a Espana third-place finisher
Team: UAE Team Emirates
Last year, at 20, he became the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974. This year, he can become the first rider to win his Tour de France debut since Frenchman Laurent Fignon in 1983. Pogacar, fourth in the Dauphine, was initially expected to support veteran Fabio Aru in the Tour but is now slated to be a team leader.
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Tour de France: Who are the yellow jersey favorites? originally appeared on NBCSports.com