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Procycling's Tour de France predictions

GRAND COLOMBIER, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 13: Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo - Visma Yellow Leader Jersey / Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates White Best Young Rider Jersey / Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno of Colombia and Astana Pro Team / Grand Colombier (1501m)/ during the 107th Tour de France 2020, Stage 15 a 174,5km stage from Lyon to Grand Colombier 1501m / #TDF2020 / @LeTour / on September 13, 2020 in Grand Colombier, France. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic doing battle at the 2020 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

With the 2021 Tour de France grand départ just a few days away, Procycling magazine's team make their predictions for who they think will succeed this year, and what might happen in the race.

Procycling's Tour de France preview issue, featuring an interview with Tadej Pogačar and a 34-page supplement, is out to buy now.

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Edward Pickering, Procycling magazine editor

Who are your top three?

Hard to choose between Pogačar and Roglič for the top spot, but I suspect Pog will shade it – I think Roglič wants it too badly, and that will get in his way. Geraint Thomas in third, because the course suits him best of Ineos’ leaders.

Who else will be in the top 10?

More Ineos riders: Carapaz and one of Porte and Geoghegan Hart. Movistar have two strong options in Mas and López and they should both be up there. Beyond that, it’s actually quite open. One last top 10 for Mollema after his interval training at the Giro? Gaudu is having a good year, so he may end up the best Frenchman.

Who will be the surprise GC package?

I used to try to pick out up-and-coming young riders for this section, but given that they’re winning everything, I’m going to say Alejandro Valverde will grind his way to somewhere around the lower reaches of the top 10.

Which sprinter will dominate?

It's now or never for Arnaud Démare, so rather than take the easy route and pick Ewan, I'm going to gamble on the Frenchman. Eight possible sprints, though, and I can see these two each taking two or three. And of course, the journalist in me needs the narrative arc of Cavendish picking up a win... or two...

Who will win the other jerseys?

I’ve said that Démare is the best sprinter, so I’d better go along with him winning green as well. White: Pogačar, obviously. KoM: obvious choice Gaudu, less obvious Kämna, really obscure after-dark prediction is Ben O’Connor.

What do you think of the route?

I don’t love it. There are six sprints and a TT in the first 13 days, plus two uphill sprints. That’s nine pretty controlled stages right there. Too many stages for the sprinters, and a couple of the middle mountain days will see zero GC action. All that said, I’ve seen brilliant races on rubbish courses, and rubbish races on brilliant courses, and the second half looks more varied. Hopefully the wind will blow.

What will be the tactical narrative?

This is where it gets interesting. I’m excited to see how Ineos, the strongest team, can get themselves ahead of the strongest riders, Roglič and Pogačar. They can’t beat them with legs, so they’ll have to use their heads.

What else are you looking forward to?

Ventoux twice in a day is a great idea. I also can’t help secretly hoping for Ineos’ four-pronged leadership strategy to cause friction.

UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar (left) chats with Slovenian compatriot and 2020 Tour de France leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) ahead of the start of stage 14

Slovenian duo Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič are the yellow jersey favourites (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Sophie Hurcom, Procycling magazine deputy editor

Who are your top three?

I want to be bold, but I can’t see past anyone other than the Slovenians, or Ineos, winning. I think Roglič will come out on top, even if he does have a track record of wobbling in the final week. Pogačar is equally strong but I think he’ll be more prone to a mistake, which is all it will take, and his UAE team will be a weakness against Jumbo and a top-form Ineos. The latter will sandwich a rider between the two. 

Who else will be in the top 10?

The usual suspects in López, Urán, Kelderman, Guillaume Martin, and most likely the rest of the Ineos team. 

Who will be the surprise GC package?

BikeExchange’s Lucas Hamilton has had an excellent season so far, with a fourth, 10th and eighth in three WT stage races. The 25-year-old has his first shot at a grand tour leadership role and I think he’ll be worth watching. The same goes for Jonas Vingegaard, who I think will be Jumbo’s ace up their sleeve this year. 

Which sprinter will dominate?

I was among those who didn’t think Mark Cavendish would be at the Tour this year, but how amazing a story would it be if he wins a stage. The sprint field is so open this year and there’s an abundance of chances, it’s entirely possible he could, too. Caleb Ewan remains  the man to beat, along with Wout van Aert, the latter who will turn out to be one of the top sprinters again. 

Who will win the other jerseys?

Pogačar to win white, obviously. Van Aert to take green, even though I don’t think he’ll go to the Tour targeting it, rather to work for Roglič and win another stage (or two) and just happen to pick up green along the way. With an attacking-minded AG2R-Citroën team, and after his stint in the polka dots last year, I think Benoît Cosnefroy will return to take the KOM title.

What do you think of the route?

It’s not too dissimilar to the ones we’ve had in 2015-2017, the years dominated by Chris Froome and Sky. It will play right to the hands of teams like Ineos and Jumbo, stacked with man power to control things.

What will be the tactical narrative?

Someone like Alaphilippe or Van der Poel will take yellow in the first few days, their team will hold the jersey until the stage 5 TT and the GC will start taking shape. I’m not expecting another final-day turnaround this year.

What else are you looking forward to?

The Mûr-de-Bretagne and the double ascent of Ventoux, because both locations have caused chaos the last times they’ve featured.

The approach to the Mont Ventoux

The approach to the Mont Ventoux (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Adam Becket, Procycling magazine staff writer

Who are your top three?

It has to be a battle between Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar for the top spot. Just because of the amount of flat time trialling at this year’s race, I will plump for Roglič to take the maillot jaune. Geraint Thomas in third.

Who else will be in the top 10?

A couple more Ineos riders, let’s say Richard Carapaz and Tao Geoghegan Hart. Enric Mas, Wilco Kelderman, Rigoberto Urán, and Jakob Fuglsang make up my list.

Who will be the surprise GC package?

David Gaudu at Groupama-FDJ has the ability to capture the French public’s imagination, but is very unproven in time trials. Richie Porte might find himself up there, with a course that suits him and the pressure off. 

Which sprinter will dominate?

With Sam Bennett out of the Tour, it is a real opportunity for Caleb Ewan to dominate. However, with the expert Deceuninck-QuickStep team around him, you can’t rule out Mark Cavendish. There are plenty of sprint stages, but if one of this pair gets on a roll, it might be minor placings for the others.

Who will win the other jerseys?

The white jersey will be won by Pogačar accidentally, it’s not really a prize for someone who has already won the whole race. Green can be won this year by Michael Matthews. As for polka dots, let’s give it to a Frenchman, Warren Barguil.

What do you think of the route?

It has the potential to be very boring if the wind doesn’t blow. Too many flattish stages across the middle of France, and these could all be won by Bennett or Ewan. The time trialling will be interesting to see; let’s hope it doesn’t decide the race early.

What will be the tactical narrative?

The battle between Jumbo and Ineos for supremacy at the front of the peloton, and a more active attempt to put Pogačar into trouble earlier in the race. The super-team battle didn’t really happen last year thanks to Egan Bernal’s back, but it should be on this year.

What else are you looking forward to?

Ultimately, a race that runs smoothly despite the pandemic, and fans back at the side of the road. Chris Froome ultimately not being the story, as he loses time quite early on. Qhubeka Assos doing exciting things like they did at the Giro.

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