BREST, France — On July 7, 176 of the world’s best cyclists started this 105th edition of the Tour de France. Six still have a realistic shot at winning.
That’s according to Jonathan Vaughters, boss of the American EF Education First–Drapac p/b Cannondale team.
“Fewer than 10 guys can win, for sure, but probably that number is three or four, realistically,” Vaughters told Business Insider on Wednesday. But why?
“Cycling teams are built like an American football team or baseball team. We have different positions for different riders. There are very few riders who can, day by day, take the position of gaining time or not losing time. That’s sort of your key guy, who for us is Rigoberto Urán and for Sky is Chris Froome.
“But the other guys on the team, they don’t have the capacity to do that, which has been proved over years of their racing career. Yet they do have the capacity to fill a lot of other very valuable roles in helping Rigo get to the finish line. So it’s Taylor Phinney or Tom Scully, these big strong guys who are way too heavy to go well in the high mountains but are actually a little stronger than Rigo on the flat stages. So their job is, basically, to drag him around and make sure that he doesn’t lose any time relative to the others. It’s just different positions for different riders.
“It’s like, a linebacker isn’t going to throw a perfect quarterback pass, and a quarterback isn’t going to be able to snap the ball perfectly under pressure. It’s the same thing in cycling.”
There are more contenders this year, Vaughters added.
“I don’t really know why,” he said. “You have some years where guys get sick or injured. Or a lot of guys decide to do the Vuelta or Giro instead. This year a lot of guys stayed healthy, and a lot of guys want to do the Tour de France.”
Here are the riders who can realistically hope to win this Tour, according to Vaughters:
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Vincenzo Nibali, Team Bahrain-Merida
Major results: Winner of the Tour de France, the Tour of Italy, the Tour of Spain, the Tour of Lombardy, and Milan-San Remo.
Chris Froome, Team Sky
Nationality: Kenyan-born Briton
Major results: Four-time winner of the Tour de France; winner of the Tour of Italy; winner of the Tour of Spain; three-time winner of the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Romain Bardet, AG2R La Mondiale
Major results: Three-time stage winner of the Tour de France; second and third overall in two Tours de France; third at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
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Source:: Business Insider