With 100 days to go until the 2014 Tour de France grand depart in Yorkshire on July 5, Cyclingnews takes a look at how some of the potential headliners have fared so far this season.
Chris Froome (Team Sky): 1st place 2013
For the defending champion Froome, 2014 hasn’t been as smooth sailing as last year with back issues forcing him to miss Tirreno-Adriatico. While there was a repeat win at the Tour of Oman, Froome’s next test is this week at the Volta a Catalunya against some of his main rivals in July.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): 5th place 2013
El Pisterolo claimed two tough mountain stages at Tirreno-Adriatico for his first wins of 2014 and looks to be back to his best form. Whether he will be as brutal in destroying the field in July remains to be seen, but the five-time Grand Tour winner is looming large as a real challenger to Team Sky’s dominance of the Tour de France.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): 8th place 2013
Movistar may have had Nairo Quintana on the podium last year but in 2014 the team is backing Valverde to deliver the goods. The 2009 Vuelta a España winner has been in blistering form so far this year including three stages and the overall at the Vuelta a Andalucía.
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky):
The 2012 Tour champion is hoping to return to the Tour after a knee injury meant he was not selected for the team last year. Wiggins has said that this may be the last Tour he races and is willing to be a super domestique for his teammate but he could steal a time trial stage.
Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano): four stage wins
The first maillot jaune of the Tour in 2013 has continued his winning ways in 2014 and is a favourite to win the first yellow jersey on offer once again. His team may have a different name but the winning combination has continued and Kittel may have had some disagreements with his Giant bike at Tirreno-Adriatico but his steed looks sure to deliver him to stage victories in July.
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step): 2 stage wins
While Cavendish still managed two wins at last year’s Tour, including the decisive Stage 13, his dominance as the world fastest sprinter was challenged by Kittel last year. With Mark Renshaw leading him out again and Alessandro Petacchi joining the sprint train, Cavendish could take back his sprinting crown in July. His form is slowly building this season and with the first three stages in Britain, the Manx missile will be extra motivated.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale): green jersey winner
Having won the last two green jerseys at the Tour, Peter Sagan has proved that although he is not the fastest sprinter, he is arguably the most versatile and canny sprinter in the bunch. Sagan’s next big goal is the Tour of Flanders where he will start as a favourite. After the Classics and the Tour of California, his focus will then turn to the roads of France. The only distraction could be the rumours and negotiations concerning his expected move to a new team in 2015.
Click here to see the gallery