Form ranking: Tour de France 2019 favourites – Pre-race

The Tour de France is just 11 days away, and 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: Eyebrows were raised when Fuglsang topped this ranking when we first ran it earlier this year, but the Dane has led from the front and has reinforced his position with every passing month.

There are, understandably, question marks over Fuglsang's track record over three weeks, but few could argue with his rich vein of form this year. The Critérium du Dauphiné is the most important pre-Tour waymark, and victory there might alone justify top spot on this list. When you add it to the pile – victories at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Ruta del Sol and podiums at Tirreno-Adriatico, Strade Bianche, Fleche Wallonne, and Amstel Gold – it's clear the 34-year-old is having the season of his life and is a true contender for yellow. It's also worth noting his team have had a stunning season and Fuglsang will have a very strong support unit around him.

Highlight: Dauphine victory – his second in three years.

Lowlight: No stage win at the Dauphine? We're clutching at straws now.

Up Next: Tour de France.

2. Egan Bernal (Team Ineos)

Overview: The Colombian wasn't on the first iteration of this ranking as he was due to lead Team Ineos at the Giro d'Italia, but has stormed up the list thanks to his victory at the recent Tour de Suisse. It was his first race since the Volta a Catalunya and along with showcasing again the 22-year-old's ability to bounce quickly back from injury, it proved he has the shape to be a significant factor next month.

As one of the premier pre-Tour events, the Suisse title gives him undeniable status as a favourite for yellow, and indeed many bookmakers have him level with teammate Geraint Thomas at the top of the market. Then there was the performance itself. Granted, the Suisse field was nowhere near as strong as the Dauphine, but Bernal was still emphatic. He was clearly the strongest climber and flew away with ease on the Flumserberg and San Gottardo. Losing just 19 seconds to world champion Rohan Dennis on the stage 8 time trial was more proof that Bernal is far more than just a climber, and is surely a Tour winner in waiting. With Chris Froome out and with question marks over Geraint Thomas' preparation, it would hardly be a surprise if this was the year. "If he's better than me, for sure I will help him," Bernal said of Thomas, the operative word being ‘if'.

Highlight: Tour de Suisse victory - his second at WorldTour level this year after Paris-Nice.

Lowlight: This might not be the way Bernal would approach the Tour had he targeted it since the start of the season, but still, he has recalibrated brilliantly.

Up next: Tour de France

Egan Bernal rides in the mountains during stage 7 at tour de Suisse (Bettini Photo)

3. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)

Overview: It's difficult to know exactly what to make of Yates. He'd had a fine season up until June and things looked to be getting even better when he grabbed the leader's jersey at the Dauphine. However, having slipped a place at Pipay, he surprisingly abandoned the race on the final day and it emerged he had been suffering from stomach problems.

Stomach problems shouldn't throw him too far off course, and there was enough evidence at the Dauphine, where he produced a very strong time trial and was solid at the Pipay summit finish, to suggest that, provided his recovery went well, he'll be a real factor in July.

Highlight: 6th place in the Dauphine time trial suggests he has emulated his brother in turning time trialling from a weakness into a weapon.

Lowlight: Dauphine exit

Up next: Tour de France

4. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)

Overview: After winning the Tour de l'Ain last month, Pinot claimed 5th overall at the Dauphine, and confirmed he's on track for the Tour. The Frenchman's time trial performances can oscillate wildly, and 12th on stage 4 was somewhere in the middle. Elsewhere, he didn't find enough amenable terrain to push for a podium spot. He was fourth at the Pipay summit finish but cut a frustrated figure after a final stage of steadier climbs more suited to the rouleurs. "I came here to reassure myself, and that's done," he said. "But I'm a competitor, I want to get results, to win races." The frustration is surely a good thing; Pinot clearly felt he had more in the tank than the parcours allowed him to put out. That won't be an issue at the Tour.

Highlight: A solid result at a race stacked with Tour contenders.

Lowlight: A frustrating race in which he also struggled with the weather conditions.

Up next: Tour de France

5. Nairo Quintana (Movistar)

Overview: Another top 10 for Quintana at the Dauphine, after 8th at San Juan, 5th at Tour Colombia, 2nd at Paris-Nice, and 4th at Volta a Catalunya. 9th in France wasn't quite the same calibre of result, but then the parcours hardly played to his strengths. His time trial was decent enough – 18th on the stage – but he was disappointing on the uphill finish at Pipay. He went on the attack some 11km from the finish but after being caught by the rest of the GC group he was dropped with a couple of kilometres to go. While many of the other riders here hadn't raced since late April, Quintana's last outing was the GP Miguel Indurain on April 6, meaning he was still finding his feet again.

Highlight: Another top 10 overall.

Lowlight: An attack that turned into a significant time loss.

Up next: Tour de France

Movistar's Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde (Getty Images)

6. Mikel Landa (Movistar)

Overview: Having ridden the Giro, Landa hasn't raced since finishing fourth in Italy, and as such there's not much to read into. He's been training in the Alps, checking out the mountain stages of the final week, and seems to be insisting he's sharing leadership at Movistar with Quintana. That suggests he's feeling pretty good about his chances.

Highlight: Quintana was hardly convincing at the Dauphine, meaning Movistar leadership is still an open case.

Lowlight: Task is complicated by the demanding nature of the Giro-Tour double.

Up next: Tour de France

7. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First)

Overview: The Colombian has had a difficult season due to the collarbone break at Paris-Nice and was very much in need of a sign he was moving in the right direction, with the Tour rapidly approaching. Choosing to eschew the Dauphine and Suisse, he headed to the Route d'Occitanie, and got it. Fourth and third on the two mountain stages were enough to land him a spot on the final podium. We spoke about Suisse having a weaker field than the Dauphine this year, and it must be said that Occitanie was shallower still, but a podium is a podium and nevertheless represents a significant psychological boost.

Highlight: Much-needed podium at Route d'Occitanie

Lowlight: Uran has still only raced 19 days so far this year. It was somewhat surprising he chose the four-day Route d'Occitanie over the eight-stage Dauphine or nine-stage Tour de Suisse.

Next up: Tour de France

8. Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates)

Overview: Like Pinot, the attacking Irishman was frustrated at a Dauphine that didn't really lend itself to aggressive racing, but he nevertheless enjoyed a solid week of racing that put him back on track ahead of the Tour. Martin rode to a fine second place at the Tour of the Basque Country in April but was then struck by illness and had a wasted Ardennes Classics campaign, abandoning both Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The Dauphine was his first race back and 8th was an encouraging result. He lost ground in the time trial and was caught the wrong side of the stage 2 split, but was 5th – alongside Pinot and Yates – at Pipay. "I'm coming out of the Dauphiné with good condition, and it's still getting better," was his summary.

Highlight: Solid foundations laid for the Tour.

Lowlight: Time trialling has never been a strong point but only one Tour contender (Bardet) fared worse at the Dauphine.

Up next: Tour de France

9. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)

Overview: Back-to-back podium finishes at the Tour in 2016 and 2017 marked Bardet out as the great French hope, but he was subdued at last year's Tour and has been subdued so far this year. As such, his stock has fallen heading into this Tour, and many now see Pinot as the leading home rider.

The Dauphine was Bardet's first race since Liege at the end of April and he struggled to have any impact on a race that admittedly didn't play to his strengths, being markedly less mountainous than usual. He finished in the top 10 but stated he was not happy with how his week went. The following day, he went to the Mont Ventoux Challenge and set his team to shred the field, only to lose out to Jesus Herrada. It wasn't really a bad display, straight on the back of an eight-stage Dauphine, but the way Herrada responded easily to every attack before clinically surging away for the victory must have been demoralising. A win would have been great for the head – instead, Bardet heads into the Tour short on confidence.

Highlight: Dauphine display was perhaps more to do with the unselective nature of the parcours rather than any concerning dip in his own form.

Lowlight: Time trialling has been a crippling weakness in previous years, and 27th in the Dauphine time trial suggests it hasn't been addressed.

Up next: Tour de France

Romain Bardet grits his teeth in the rain during stage 3 at Dauphine (Bettini Photo)

10. Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma)

Overview: The Dutchman has had a really solid season so far, and that looked to be continuing at the Dauphine until he abandoned the race on the final day. Sitting 9th overall, Kruijswijk struggled with stomach problems and climbed off his bike. He was disappointing the previous day, losing time to all the GC riders at Pipay, but that may also be explained by his illness. It's a setback, but, as with Yates, stomach problems at that point shouldn't be something that seriously affects his chances at the Tour, and he has indeed been training well in the Alps in the past few days.

Highlight: Fourth in the Dauphine time trial, putting decent time into the pure climbers, bodes well.

Lowlight: Getting sick and missing out on what might have been a fourth top 10 from four stage races this year.

Up next: Tour de France

11. Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos)

Overview: There were hearts in mouths when the Tour de France champion hit the deck on stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse, and stayed there. Chris Froome had only recently been ruled out of the Tour after a horrific crash at the Dauphine and it seemed Ineos might lose their second leader as well. After a few minutes, however, Thomas was seen moving his upper body, and although he left the race to go to hospital, serious injury was ruled out.

Thomas, then, can count himself lucky, but it was nevertheless a significant setback. He crashed out before the key mountain stages and time trial, thus depriving himself of a real chance to measure himself against others and also test his body at race intensity. For a rider whose podium at the Tour de Romandie is the only result of note in an otherwise anonymous season, that loss is magnified. When you look back 12 months, to his commanding victory at the Dauphine, it's clear Thomas is some way off the path that took him to the yellow jersey last year. Then there's the leadership issue. Chris Froome might be absent, but after Thomas left Suisse, his teammate Bernal went on and won it in style.

Highlight: Getting away from a nasty crash with nothing worse than cuts and bruises

Lowlight: Crashing out of Suisse. Even if he got away without injuries, he missed four important days of racing.

Up next: Tour de France

12. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida)

Overview: Another rider who did the Giro d'Italia – finishing second. Nibali made the surprising decision to race the GP Lugano the following weekend and placed fifth, and has since enjoyed some recovery before ramping up his training. Unlike Landa, he has come out and said he's thinking about stage wins rather than the general classification, but not everyone's buying that. With no Froome or Dumoulin, Nibali is the rider with the most experience and arguably the strongest race craft.

Highlight: No Froome or Dumoulin makes the race wide open and increases his chances of backing up his Giro podium.

Lowlight: Exertions at the Giro mean he's not overly confident of a strong GC showing.

Up next: Tour de France.

Vincenzo Nibali attacks during stage 16 at the Giro (Getty Images)

13. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo)

Overview: The Australian's season has been disrupted by illness in the spring and, on the evidence of the Dauphine, he's still some distance behind where he needs to be. Having altered his programme to include the Tour of California – where he finished 5th – he was unable to crack the top 10 at the Dauphine, where he has twice finished runner-up. He lost time in a split on stage 2, before putting in a slightly disappointing time trial and losing more ground on the finish at Pipay.

"There are still three weeks to the Tour, and we need it," admitted DS Steven De Jongh. "The form of Richie is coming up and that was good to see. We knew he was not at his top, top shape and we could see this in the race and now we have three weeks to work further. We are confident he will be in good condition at the start of the Tour. We saw a clear progression from him from the start of Dauphiné to the end; some positive signs for sure."

Highlight: There is still time to hone condition ahead of Brussels

Lowlight: Porte has often shone in stage races in the first half of the season but is short on results and perhaps confidence heading into this Tour.

Up next: Tour de France

14. Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

Overview: There has been much excitement surrounding the man dubbed ‘the next Contador' - by Contador himself – after his runner-up finish at last year's Vuelta, but expectations for the Tour have been dampened somewhat by a subdued display at the Tour de Suisse.

The 24-year-old Spaniard finished ninth overall, a perfectly credible result and the latest in a solid stage racing run in 2019 after 4th at the Volta ao Algarve, 9th at the Volta a Catalunya, and 11th at the Tour of the Basque Country. However, the field wasn't like the Dauphine and Mas finished nearly five minutes behind Bernal. On the first summit finish he was dropped when the action kicked off, and though he went on the offensive himself on San Gottardo the next day, he was quickly and easily caught and dispatched by Bernal and was also passed by five more GC contenders by the line. On Sunday's queen stage he lost more ground and finished 15th.

His team attempted to highlight the positives, and a top 10 in such a big WorldTour race is certainly nothing to be sniffed at for a 24-year-old, but Mas has already set different parameters, both with his Vuelta podium and by saying he's going to the Tour to try and win. Maybe he's a little lacking after not racing since the end of April, but being consistently outclimbed by someone like Tiesj Benoot - who admittedly had something of a revelatory week but is still more of a classics rider - is a concern this close to the Tour

Highlight: Another top 10 at WorldTour level is a decent result on paper.

Lowlight: Didn't have the legs on the climbs.

Up next: Tour de France

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