With five summit finishes, the 2015 Tour de France is one of the most mountainous Grand Tours in recent years and the fight for the King of the Mountains competition is certain to be one of the most strongly contested battles in this year’s race.
Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) lines up as the defending champion in the competition and after a slow start to the season he is starting to show signs of improving form. Majka will be expected to put his individual aims behind the team’s goal of winning the Tour with Alberto Contador, while Peter Sagan’s lust for a fourth green jersey could also relegate the polka-dot aims within the squad, but Majka’s all-round strength could still see him feature on a number of summit finishes.
When it comes to home-grown success Pierre Rolland (Europcar) stands out as a potential candidate. The Frenchman wore the jersey in 2013 and has no fears when it comes to long-range attacks in the mountains. With the Giro d’Italia off his schedule this year the former Alpe d’Heuz winner (2011) has all the necessary credentials to launch a bid for the title.
One rider who did take part in this year’s Giro but who could still feature heavily in the Tour de France is Steven Kruijswijk. The LottoNL-Jumbo rider came to the fore in the third week in Italy and was unlucky to miss out on a stage win and the King of the Mountains jersey. Much depends on how he has rested after the Giro but the Dutchman, with GC expectations lifted, could certainly feature.
Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN–Qhubeka) won the polka-dot jersey - his team’s first WorldTour jersey - at the recent Dauphiné and has the attributes to mount a challenge in what will be his and his team’s debut in the Tour de France. Without a true GC contender, MTN will be on the hunt for stage wins as well as spells in the green and polka-dot jerseys.
And finally, another rider making his Tour de France debut is Julián Arredondo. The Colombian has shone in the Giro before and heads to France as Trek Factory Racing’s specialist climber. With Frank Schleck out of the race Arredondo might find his personal aims curtailed as the team rally around GC contender Bauke Mollema but if he’s afforded any room, Arredondo could prove to be a genuine contender for mountain points.