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Form ranking: Tour de France 2019 favourites – June

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Chris Froome (Team Sky) leads on the Alpe d'Huez

Chris Froome (Team Sky) leads on the Alpe d'Huez
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Chris Froome (Team Ineos).

Chris Froome (Team Ineos).
(Image credit: Swpix)
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Nairo Quintana on the front of the breakaway

Nairo Quintana on the front of the breakaway
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) forced out of the Giro d'Italia on stage 5

Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) forced out of the Giro d'Italia on stage 5
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Adam Yates celebrates his victory

Adam Yates celebrates his victory
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

With the Tour de France now just a month away, Cyclingnews takes an updated look at how the favourites are looking ahead of the start of the race in Brussels, Belgium, on July 6.

1. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)

Overview: The Danish rider absolutely took off after our last look at the Tour favourites in late March, although things were a little bittersweet at first.

Poor Jakob Fuglsang must have been beginning to think that it just wasn't going to be his season after he first stood on the final podium having taken third overall at the Itzulia Basque Country in April, only to be knocked down to fourth place once the race jury decided to reinstate Bora-Hansgrohe's Emanuel Buchmann, who'd taken a wrong turning at the end of the stage, while fighting to save his third place from the Dane.

There followed the controversy at Amstel Gold, where Fuglsang and the rider fast becoming his bête noire, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), attacked together in the closing stages of the race, only for Fuglsang to be told by his team car to stop working in order to save himself for the sprint, when in reality the chasing group was breathing down their necks, and the win went to a fast-finishing Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), with Fuglsang clinging on for third in what has surely been the race of the season so far, excitement-wise.

It was that man Alaphilippe again who got the better of him on the Mur de Huy to win Flèche Wallonne, but then things finally came good for Fuglsang at Liège-Bastogne-Liège four days later, with the 34-year-old making his winning move on the climb of the Roche-aux-Faucons before soloing home for the biggest victory of his career.

He now heads to the Critérium du Dauphiné, starting on June 9, with the confidence that having won the race two years ago brings with it, and if Fuglsang's summer is anything like his spring, he'll be absolutely flying.

Highlight: Keeping on believing after having gone so close at both Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico, and then, since our last update, having come fourth overall at the Itzulia Basque Country, third at Amstel Gold, second at Flèche Wallone. Then – blast off! – came the win at Liège

Lowlight: Having had to stop racing right after the biggest win of his career in order to rest ahead of building up for the Tour. So, as we said of Fuglsang last time, if that's your biggest complaint, things aren't going so badly.

Up Next: Critérium du Dauphiné.

2. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)

Overview: In our last update on Adam Yates' path to the Tour de France, we suggested that he'd been overshadowed by his twin brother, Simon in 2018, but had started to come into his own in 2019. Well, things got stratospheric in late March and April, and, if we're really going to play 'twin-brother comparison', then Adam now arguably has the upper hand.

Swiftly getting over the disappointment of having been pipped at the post by Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) on the final-day time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico by a single second, Adam took a stage win ahead of Sky's Egan Bernal and Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya from a group sprint on the summit of Vallter 2000, and finished second overall there to Astana's Miguel Angel Lopez. Yates then scored another stage win on the final stage of the Itzulia Basque Country in Eibar ahead of Martin and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), which netted him a fifth-place finish on the GC.

Fourth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège was a nice way to finish off the first phase of his season, and he'll now start at the Critérium du Dauphiné as one of the favourites for the race, despite the stiff competition that he'll come up against.

Highlight: Taking some important scalps with his stage wins at both Catalunya and the Basque Country

Lowlight: Crashing out of Flèche Wallonne. Generally, however, his consistency through the spring was impressive, although he wasn't quite good enough to land a GC win. That could change at the Dauphiné, however.

Up next: Critérium du Dauphiné.

3. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)

Overview: Following his 11th place at the Volta a Catalunya, Thibaut Pinot took two months away from racing before picking it up again on the less well-travelled path towards the Tour with French stage race the Tour de l'Ain in late May. It may yet prove to be a canny move, too, although going back up against the big boys at the Critérium du Dauphiné will be the yardstick.

Catalunya was a good gauge of Pinot's continuing consistent spring, but his dominant display at the Tour de l'Ain proved that the rest had done him good. He finished second on stage 2 of the three-day stage race, and was left just four seconds off the top sport – behind AG2R's Alexandre Geniez – going into the final stage.

And it was there that Pinot took the bull by the horns, going on the attack of the final climb of the race – the Col du Grand Colombier – to beat second-placed Elie Gesbert (Arkea-Samsic) by almost a minute, and win the race overall by 1:08 over Geniez's teammate Mathias Frank, leaving you with the sense that the Frenchman was simply playing with his competitors.

Highlight: Following his Haut Var win earlier in the season, going down the French route towards the biggest French race of them all seems to be paying off, and his Tour de l'Ain victory was dominant

Lowlight: None to really speak of, although it remains to be seen whether Pinot's 'French route' to the Tour – via the Tour de l'Ain – was the right one

Up next: Critérium du Dauphiné.

4. Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos)

Overview: After extended celebrations and media/sponsorship commitments in the aftermath of his Tour de France victory last year, Geraint Thomas had something of a sluggish start to the season. However, despite the Tour of the Basque Country in April following in the same anonymous tone as his early races, there was something of a turnaround at the Tour de Romandie last month. Thomas finished third overall, placing fifth in the opening prologue and 10th in the concluding time trial, as well as third on the summit finish at Torgon.

For reference, Thomas had a poor Romandie 12 months ago, saying that he "just didn't have it" following the uphill time trial, but that clearly didn't prove too much of an issue. With the confidence gained from Switzerland, the Welshman has been out at his customary retreat of Mount Teide, in Tenerife, Spain, training at altitude.

"I was definitely coming back slowly. I just didn't want to rush it and then overdo it. But yeah, I would say it's all worked out well now," Thomas told the Telegraph this week. "Obviously Romandie was nice to get a little result – a boost for the confidence. And, yeah, I think we're all on track now."

Thomas will not defend his Dauphiné title but will instead lead Ineos at the Tour de Suisse in order to avoid a clash with Chris Froome. That internal leadership contest could be one of the storylines of the 2019 Tour and Thomas's performance in Switzerland could have added significance in that regard.

Highlight: Podium finish at Tour de Romandie.

Lowlight: Egan Bernal's change of programme makes the Ineos leadership situation even more murky.

Up next: Tour de Suisse.

5. Nairo Quintana (Movistar)

Overview: Most of the talk surrounding Nairo Quintana recently has been transfer-related, with a move to second-division French outfit Arkea-Samsic on the cards. When it comes to racing, his last appearance was the GP Miguel Indurain on April 6, where he placed 42nd. Prior to that, he produced a solid enough performance at the Volta a Catalunya, finishing fourth, but behind compatriots Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and Egan Bernal (Ineos).

The result backed up his runner-up spot at Paris-Nice the previous month, but means that it's now more than two years since Quintana won a stage race. That may sound harsh, but it's only to judge the Colombian against his own high standards, having won 14 in six years up to that point.

During his lengthy stint away from racing, Quintana has been training back home in the hills of Colombia, and heads to the Dauphiné this weekend for only the second time in his career, having preferred the Route du Sud or the Tour de Suisse in the past.

Highlight: Another high placing in a WorldTour stage race.

Lowlight: A week after he asserted he had sole leadership for the Giro, Movistar teammate Mikel Landa said it would be shared between them.

Up next: Critérium du Dauphiné.

6. Chris Froome (Team Ineos)

Overview: Still no success for the four-time Tour de France champion this season, but there have been signs that Chris Froome is moving in the right direction. He was prominent in helping his younger teammates Pavel Sivakov and Tao Geoghegan Hart to the top two steps of the podium at the Tour of the Alps, and also put in a shift at the Tour de Yorkshire, where his teammate Chris Lawless was victorious.

That someone on the cusp of a record-equalling fifth Tour de France title has offered his biggest contributions in service to others is a little strange, although you feel with Froome that he longer needs to win in order to be in shape for a Grand Tour. He didn't win in the build-up to last year's Giro or the 2017 Tour, either.

Froome was well down this list the last time we published it, and he has admitted to being "a bit eager" and to having done "too much" in terms of training at the start of the season. However, he has now backed up the Tour of the Alps and Yorkshire with a long stint of altitude training in Tenerife with the core of Ineos's Tour squad and now heads to the Critérium du Dauphiné to step things up a notch and go for a result himself at a race he has won three times.

Highlight: Solid performances at both the Tour of the Alps and Tour de Yorkshire have seen him correct his early-season wobble.

Lowlight: Still needs to prove himself with Ineos leadership up in the air.

Up next: Critérium du Dauphiné.

7. Egan Bernal (Team Ineos)

Overview: Hopefully young Colombian climber Egan Bernal won't feel like a third wheel when he lines up as part of Team Ineos's eight-man squad at the Tour, alongside defending champion Geraint Thomas and four-time winner Chris Froome.

Bernal had been enjoying a dream season in 2019, and, after taking third overall at the Volta a Catalunya in March, woulda, shoulda, coulda won the Giro were it not for his training crash, which left the 22-year-old with a broken collarbone just a week before he was set to lead the team at the year's first Grand Tour. It all leaves Ineos with a bit of a dilemma, although no doubt any questions about how it might work on the eve of the race will be batted away by a cover-all "the road will decide".

Depending on how he'd come out of the Giro, Bernal may have also gone on to the Tour as a domestique de luxe to both Thomas and Froome, as he did at last year's race. But his ambitions will have been piqued by the prospect of leadership at the Giro, and so the Tour could prove irresistible.

Highlight: Basically the whole of Bernal's 2019 season, apart from him having had to miss the Giro.

Lowlight: The training crash that saw him break his collarbone and miss out on the chance of leading his team for the first time at a Grand Tour.

Up next: No race yet scheduled before the Tour de France, although the Tour de Suisse may be a possibility.

8. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida)

Overview: The Italian finished runner-up at the Giro d'Italia, which clearly proves he's in top form, but also raises the question of how he can repeat it in July. Both the Giro and Tour have been on Vincenzo Nibali's schedule since the start of the season, and while he appeared to dismiss the idea of targeting the overall classification – floating the idea of stage wins and even the mountains classification – he did so only tentatively.

"I've used up a lot of energy. I'll see how I approach it, how my condition is and how my body responds," Nibali said at the end of the Giro. He's not a rider you should count out too quickly.

Highlight: An aggressive ride at the Giro put him back on the podium of a Grand Tour after last season's injuries.

Lowlight: Arguably made a tactical error in marking Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and allowing eventual winner Richard Carapaz (Movistar) too much freedom.

Up next: Gran Premio Città di Lugano (June 9).

9. Mikel Landa (Movistar)

Overview: Mikel Landa's attacking riding at the recent Giro d'Italia has bumped him up this list, with the Spanish rider having 'enjoyed' a crash and injury-filled first few months of the season.

The 29-year-old had to put a bit of a lid on his own ambitions at the Giro once it became clear that Movistar teammate Richard Carapaz was in a position to win the title. But that may yet prove to be a blessing in disguise, as while Landa proved that he was back on track and back to being close to his best, his team duties may have helped to keep something of a lid on things, leaving him ready to fire on all cylinders come July.

Highlight: Flying form from the Giro, which he'll now try to harness and put to good use at the Tour.

Lowlight: We jest, of course, but having had to assist teammate Carapaz, who found himself in the team's best position to successfully win the Giro. Landa now has to share Tour de France leadership with Nairo Quintana.

Up next: TBC.

10. Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma)

Overview: While Primoz Roglic is only a possible starter for Jumbo-Visma's Tour de France squad, Steven Kruijswijk is mounting a 'full gas' approach to the Tour de France this year, hoping to improve yet further on his impressive fifth place at last year's race. Roglic has said that if he does go, he'll be riding for Kruijswijk.

After taking fifth overall at the Volta a Catalunya in late March, Kruijswijk was one of very few Tour contenders who raced the Tour de Romandie in early May. The Dutchman picked up sixth overall behind winner Roglic, who at that point was preparing for the Giro.

Few of the other Tour contenders even raced beyond April's Ardennes Classics, after which many knuckled down to altitude training camps, but Kruijswijk did both. A training camp in Spain's Sierra Nevada mountains after Romandie in the company of the team's young star Wout van Aert should mean that Kruijswijk will be one to watch at the Dauphiné next week, and then again at the Tour de France with his team's full support.

Highlight: Top six GC finishes in all three stage races that he's raced this year.

Lowlight: Still nothing yet…

Up next: Critérium du Dauphiné.

11. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)

Overview: Like many of the other Tour de France contenders, Romain Bardet's last race was Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where the Frenchman finished a relatively disappointing 21st after taking a podium spot a year earlier. The 28-year-old loves to race, and so the lay-off since then would have had him twiddling his fingers, and no doubt giving it full beans during his recent – and annual – altitude training camp in Spain's Sierra Nevada mountains, where he was joined by a number of the teammates likely to support him at the Tour.

Bardet has had a relatively low-key past few months on the racing front, with his best finish being ninth at Amstel Gold towards the end of April. A serious crash on the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya luckily left him with nothing worse than bruised ribs, and he was able to race again at French one-day race Paris-Camembert after just a couple of weeks off the bike.

As it is for all the Tour contenders who've been away from public view since the end of April, the Dauphiné is an opportunity for fans, the media and the riders themselves to see how things are progressing with what is by then less than a month to go until the start of the Grande Boucle

Highlight: Ninth at Amstel Gold, which was part of a relatively quiet Ardennes Classics campaign for the Frenchman this year.

Lowlight: Crashing in Catalunya at speed – although he was lucky to come away with nothing broken.

Up next: Critérium du Dauphiné.

12. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo)

Overview: Richie Porte has continued to fly under the radar this season, despite glimpses of form at the recent Tour of California. It could yet prove to be his secret weapon – dark-horse status – although he'll want to at least test himself at the upcoming Critérium du Dauphiné.

On his return to Europe after starting his season in Australia, bronchitis kept Porte out of Paris-Nice, and his race programme was modified so that he instead went to the Volta a Catalunya once he'd recovered.

While his Catalunya performance was nothing to write home about, Porte showed signs of a revival in California in May, racing to fourth place on the race's penultimate stage to Mount Baldy – a climb not too dissimilar to the Australian's beloved Willunga Hill, which he's made his own for the past six seasons. A mechanical problem just as things got interesting on the upper slopes of Baldy would have prevented him from doing even better, but the signs were there.

Highlight: Fifth on the GC at the Tour of California after proving on the stage to Mount Baldy that he was healthy once more and on track for another try at the Tour de France.

Lowlight: Suffering a mechanical on Mount Baldy in California perhaps prevented him from showing how good he really was.

Up next: Critérium du Dauphiné.

13. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)

Overview: No one likes having their plans ripped up, but while Tom Dumoulin's exit from the Giro d'Italia might have left him with a lingering knee injury, it may well increase his chances of success in July.

After finishing runner-up at the Giro and Tour in 2018, Dumoulin had planned to focus on the Tour in 2019, only to see the two race routes, at which point it became another Giro-Tour double attempt.

Despite the Dutchman's podiums last year, no one has won both since 1998, and his early exit from the Giro should address the problem of how to overcome the fatigue of three weeks of racing and peak again in such a short space of time. Dumoulin left Italy after just four stages, all of it – barring the opening time trial – sat in a peloton. However, his recovery from that knock to the knee has been "slower than we hoped for", according to his team, and he recently underwent a cautionary MRI scan. So while he looks good in terms of fatigue, there are still many question marks surrounding his shape.

Highlight: Having left the Giro so early, chances are that he'll be fresher for July.

Lowlight: The knee injury that forced him to leave the Giro has lingered and threatens to undermine his preparation.

Up next: Critérium du Dauphiné.

14. Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates)

Overview: After a reasonable start to the season – fourth overall at the Volta a la Comunitat Valciana and seventh at the UAE Tour – Dan Martin continued his route to the Tour de France with a lowly 23rd overall at the Volta a Catalunya (although he did take third on the 'queen stage' behind Adam Yates and Egan Bernal), and then second overall at the Itzulia Basque Country behind Ion Izagirre (Astana) after just missing out on a win on the final stage.

The Irishman then got sick ahead of Flèche Wallonne, and, despite being well enough to race, was a 'DNF' both there and at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He now heads to the Critérium du Dauphiné in full health once more after a block of training, and will hope to recapture the form that saw him finish third at the French stage race in both 2016 and 2017.

"Training has gone well, and I feel good, although I'm not sure about my expectations having not raced since Liège, as it's always an unknown how the first race back will go," he said after the announcement of UAE Team Emirates' Dauphiné squad, echoing, no doubt, the sentiment of myriad Tour contenders – many of whom also won't have raced since Liège.

Highlight: Being in the mix at mountain-top finishes at both Catalunya and the Basque Country.

Lowlight: A slight setback to his programme as he recovered from illness at the Ardennes Classics.

Up next: Critérium du Dauphiné.

15. Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

Overview: The runner-up from the 2018 Vuelta a España has had a relatively quiet season so far. He followed up fourth overall at the Volta ao Algarve with ninth place overall at the Volta a Catalunya, where he did at least nab second place on the final stage, which was won by Bora-Hansgrohe's Davide Formolo. He then finished 11th overall at the Itzulia Basque Country in April before going on to unremarkable rides at the Ardennes Classics.

Mas' journey to his first Tour de France goes by way of the Tour de Suisse, which is the less well-trodden path for this year's contenders, with most going to do battle at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Defending Tour champion Geraint Thomas, however, will also be in Switzerland, which will give the 24-year-old Mas confidence that his path is the right one.

Highlight: Second on the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya, where he finished ninth overall.

Lowlight: Hasn't exactly set the world on fire with his performances so far this season. Must try harder at the Tour de Suisse.

Up next: Tour de Suisse.

16. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First)

Overview: With only 15 race days under his belt this season at the time of writing, Rigoberto Urán is going to have to pull his finger out if he wants to be competitive at this year's Tour de France.

The Colombian's stage win and second place overall at the 2017 Tour seem like a long time ago now, and things are going to have to start going very right for the 32-year-old if he ever wants to reach such heady heights again. Urán's crash on the second stage of Paris-Nice set him back massively. Prior to that, he'd opened his season with a win in the team time trial at the Tour Colombia 2.1 on home soil, and finished the week-long stage race sixth overall. Things had looked promising.

After returning from his broken collarbone at the Tour of California, Urán eased himself back into racing by riding in the service of early race leader Tejay van Garderen and his young compatriot Sergio Higuita, who finished second in California in what was his first race with EF Education First and his first WorldTour event. That was the last time Urán raced – in mid-May – and it was unclear whether he would next race at the Critérium du Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse, if either. He should probably really be doing both, were it not for the fact they overlap…

Highlight: 14th at Tour of California after helping teammates Tejay van Garderen and Sergio Higuita.

Lowlight: Very much lacking in race days so far this season.

Next up: TBC.