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Tour de France 2021: Team-by-team guide

Countdown to the Tour de France 2021
Countdown to the Tour de France 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The 2021 Tour de France gets underway in just two days so as the riders gather in Brittany for the Grand Départ, Cyclingnews takes a look at the 23 teams that will partake in this year's race. 

We highlight the contenders as well as some of those who just could surprise us over the coming three weeks.

AG2R Citroën Team

Team Leader: Greg van Avermaet
Objective: stage wins
Rider to watch: Ben O'Connor

The French team does not have an overall contender after Romain Bardet left for Team DSM but does have a number of baroudeur riders, who can dynamite different stages, and win.

Van Avermaet is always a threat in the hilly stages of the south and second week, while Naesen makes for a talented Flemish combo. Cosnefroy, Peeters, Paret-Peintre and Godon fly the flag for France and could join Julian Alaphilippe when he attacks. Peeters won in Loudenvielle last year, while Godon won Paris-Camembert last week.

Australia's Ben O'Connor makes his Tour de France debut but has improved significantly since winning back to back stages at the 2020 Giro d'Italia. He may start the race thinking of the overall classification but if that plan fails he will be a threat in the Pyrenees.

Full line-up: Benoit Cosnefroy, Greg van Avermaet, Aurelien Paret-Peintre, Nans Peters, Oliver Naesen, Michael Schär, Dorian Godon

Alpecin-Fenix

Mathieu van der Poel wins at the Tour de Suisse

Mathieu van der Poel wins at the Tour de Suisse (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Team Leader: Mathieu van der Poel
Objective: stage wins
Rider to watch: Tim Merlier

After animating the Classics and weeklong stage races, Mathieu van der Poel turns his many talents to the biggest race of all: the Tour de France.

The Alpecin-Fenix Tour team will predominantly revolve around him and be directed to ensuring a stage win and perhaps even the yellow jersey in the first week. Winning stage 1 in Landerneau would be huge even by Van der Poel's high standards but is possible.

Alpecin-Fenix have selected a team packed with sprinters with Tim Merlier offering an alternative to the Dutchman for the high-speed flat sprints. Jasper Philipsen is a valid alternative, and Kristian Sbaragli is a good understudy and an experienced lead-out man.

Meurisse finished 21st overall in the 2019 Tour de France when riding for Wanty-Gobert, while Vakoč and Dillier are strong enough to help with any chase work if Van der Poel does pull on the leader's yellow jersey.

Silvan Dillier will stand out in the team due to his red Swiss national champion's jersey but beyond Van der Poel, Merlier is the rider to watch. He has won six times so far in 2021 and has the speed and sprint craft to step up a level and win in the chaotic Tour sprints.

Full line-up: Mathieu van der Poel, Silvan Dillier, Tim Merlier, Xandro Meurisse, Jasper Philipsen, Jonas Rickaert, Kristian Sbaragli and Petr Vakoč.

Astana-Premier Tech

Team Leader: Jakob Fuglsang
Objective: stage wins
Rider to watch: Omar Fraile

The boys in sky blue have lost team leaders like Vincenzo Nibali and Miguel Angel Lopez in recent years and, with the Olympic Games on the horizon, leader Jakob Fuglsang and the team are more focussed on winning stages than chasing a top 10 in the overall classification.

Fuglsang, Alexey Lutsenko, Ion Izagirre, new Spanish national champion Omar Fraile and even Alex Aranburu could all win hilly and mountainous stages, while Canada's Hugo Houle loves going in long-range attacks.

Fuglsang finished third overall at the Tour de Suisse and perhaps starts the Tour with even better form. Lutsenko's second place at the Critérium du Dauphiné confirmed he could repeat his stage win of 2020, while Ion Izagirre won the Spanish time trial title and clearly has his motor fine-tuned for the month ahead.

24-year-old Stefan de Bod is perhaps a surprise selection but he was fifth in the best young rider competition at the Tour de Suisse and a name to remember. So is the fast-finishing Aranburu, who went close to victory on two stages in the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Fraile is aggressive and fast and his Spanish road race title confirms he is on form and ready to race.

Full line-up: Jakob Fuglsang, Alexey Lutsenko, Ion Izagirre, Omar Fraile, Hugo Houle, Dmitriy Gruzdev, Stefan de Bod and Alex Aranburu.

B&B Hotels p/b KTM

Team Leader: Bryan Coquard
Objective: stage wins
Rider to watch: Pierre Rolland

The French ProTeam is riding the 2021 Tour de France thanks to one of the three wildcard invitations and will be looking to pay back their golden ticket with sprint wins and a placing by Bryan Coquard plus attacks and possible success in the mountains from veteran Pierre Rolland.

Coquard has won 45 times but rarely at WorldTour level and never at the Tour de France. He was in the top 10 seven times in 2020 and surely a sprint will go his way one day. He was second to Caleb Ewan in the Baloise Belgium Tour and so it could be his year.

Rolland is now 34 and last won a stage at the Tour in 2012 and at the Giro in 2017. He won the Mont Kigali stage at the Tour de Rwanda in May so his hunger is still there.

Full line-up: Pierre Rolland, Bryan Coquard, Quentin Pacher. Maxime Chevalier, Franck Bonnamour, Cyril Barthe, Cyril Gautier and Cyril Lemoine.

Bahrain Victorious

Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious)

Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Team Leader: Jack Haig
Objective: stage wins, green points jersey and general classification
Rider to watch: Sonny Colbrelli

Bahrain Victorious have finally lived up to their moniker in recent weeks, with a transformation and string of success.

Gino Mäder and Damiano Caruso set the ball rolling at the Giro d'Italia and now it is up to Jack Haig, Wout Poels and Sonny Colbrelli at the Tour de France, with Pello Bilbao, Dylan Teuns and Matej Mohorič all possible stage winners.

In the absence of Mikel Landa, after his nasty crash at the Giro d'Italia, Haig and Poels get the leadership they have craved for most of their careers. Haig was fifth at the Dauphiné, while Poels was aggressive at the Tour de Suisse but failed to make a mark on the overall. One will eventually have to help the other but starting with two leaders is always better than with one.

Colbrelli showed his form at the Dauphiné and again on Sunday when he won the Italian national title on the hilly Imola course used for the 2020 world championships. He is suited to the early uphill finishes in Brittany and has the consistency to challenge for the green jersey.  

Full line-up: Jack Haig, Wout Poels, Sonny Colbrelli, Pello Bilbao, Dylan Teuns, Matej Mohorič, Fred Wright and Marco Haller.

Bora-Hansgrohe

Team Leader: Wilco Kelderman
Objective: GC podium, stage wins
Rider to watch: Peter Sagan

In recent seasons Bora-Hansgrohe have transformed their identity as a Tour de France team purely built around the ambitions of Peter Sagan. Their team at this year's race continues this trend, balancing Wilco Kelderman's designs on the GC with Sagan's pursuit of an eighth green jersey and stage wins.

There was no room for Pascal Ackermann's aspirations for a maiden Tour de France stage win as strong rides by Sagan and Kelderman strengthened their command of support riders. Sagan has Daniel Oss to drop him off in the sprints and ride in the mountain grupetto, while Emanuel Buchmann can help Kelderman as he recovers from his Giro d'Italia crash and finds his best form. Nils Politt and Ide Schelling offering interesting breakaway alternatives.

Kelderman has only raced the Tour de France once since 2016 but achieved his first Grand Tour podium at last year's Giro d'Italia and a string of top 10 results in stage races this season.

There are signs that Sagan's reign as the omnipresent green jersey favourite may be fading but he proved at the Giro d'Italia that he is not done yet. With his team for 2022 still to be confirmed and a suggestion that Sagan may even stay at Bora-Hansgrohe, the new Slovakian national champion has lots of reasons to keep on winning.

Full line-up: Emanuel Buchmann, Wilco Kelderman, Patrick Konrad, Daniel Oss, Lukas Pöstlberger, Nils Politt, Peter Sagan, Ide Schelling.

Cofidis

Guillaume Martin (Cofidis)

Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Team Leader: Guillaume Martin
Objective: stage wins
Rider to watch: Jesús Herrada

Without their sprinter, Elia Viviani, who has chosen to target the Tokyo Olympics after riding the Giro d'Italia, Cofidis has opted for a different Tour de France strategy.

Christophe Laporte will try his hand in the uphill sprints, while Guillaume Martin focuses on the GC and mountain stages depending on how his race unfolds.

Martin was not happy with his ride and 20th place overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné but is capable of finishing in the top 10 at the Tour if he can stay healthy and consistent. In the absence of Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet, philosopher Martin could become France's best hope of success in the mountains.

Cofidis have always bet on riders outside of France and Belgium and Jesús Herrada is their Spanish stalwart, having been in Cofidis red and white since 2018. He was second in the Spanish national championships and impressed at the Route d'Occitanie in the Pyrenees. Watch for him in the mountain breakaways, acting as an alternative or key help for Martin.

Full line-up: Guillaume Martin, Jesús Herrada, Christophe Laporte, Anthony Perez, Simon Geschke, Pierre-Luc Périchon and Jelle Wallays.

Deceuninck-QuickStep

Team Leader: Julian Alaphilippe
Objective: stage wins
Rider to watch: Mark Cavendish

After a relatively disappointing Giro d'Italia, compared to their usual strike rate, Deceuninck-QuickStep will be seeking to return to their usual winning ways at the Tour de France.

Led once again by the charismatic Julian Alaphilippe who has delighted French crowds for the past three years, Deceuninck-QuickStep will target punchier stages and an early spell in the yellow jersey with the world champion.

With Tour of Flanders winner Kasper Asgreen, fast finisher Davide Ballerini and the ever-aggressive Mattia Cattaneo in the team, the Belgian team has a number of tactical solutions and strong support for Alaphilippe.

In the absence of Sam Bennett, Deceuninck-QuickStep gave Mark Cavendish a chance in the sprints via an extraordinary and fascinating return to the race that catapulted his career into the sprinting stratosphere.

Parachuted into the team after a knee injury prevented Sam Bennett from defending his green jersey, Cavendish has an opportunity to add to his 30 Tour de France stage victories. He has Michael Mørkøv as a lead-out man and no doubt the hunger and determination to show what he can do. A stage win would be special after his illness and emotions but just making it back to the Tour de France is a huge success for the 36-year-old Manxman.

Full line-up: Julian Alaphilippe, Mark Cavendish, Michael Mørkøv, Kasper Asgreen, Davide Ballerini, Mattia Cattaneo, Tim Declercq and Dries Devenyns.

EF Education-Nippo

Rigoberto Uran (EF-Nippo)

Rigoberto Uran (EF-Nippo) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Team Leader: Rigoberto Uran
Objective: general classification and stage victories
Rider to watch: Stefan Bissegger

Rigoberto Uran's strong performance at the Tour de Suisse has forced EF Education-Nippo to review their overall hopes for the Tour de France and include the general classification as a possible goal. They will also target stage victories and the two time trials with Swiss rider Stefan Bissegger.

Uran finished second in the 2017 Tour de France but illness and injury have stopped him repeating anything like that since. He finished eighth in last year's Tour despite coming back from a serious crash at the 2019 Vuelta, where he broke his left collarbone, shoulder blade, ribs, two vertebrae and suffered lung damage. An early season of light racing and fatherhood seems to have given some spring to his pedal stroke.

Dani Martínez and Mike Woods have all left EF and so Uran carries the team on his fun-loving shoulders, with fellow Colombian Sergio Higuita his wingman in the mountains.

The USA's Neilson Powless and Michael Valgren will hunt for stage wins from breakaways, while Magnus Cort is always a threat in the tougher sprint finishes.

Stefan Bissegger was second in the opening time trial at the Tour de Suisse behind compatriot Stefan Küng but then won the hilly stage to Gstaad, confirming his talents and aggression. He could do something similar at the Tour de France and so even have a shot at the yellow jersey after the stage 5 time trial around Laval.

Full line-up: Rigoberto Urán, Neilson Powless, Stefan Bissegger, Magnus Cort, Ruben Guerreiro, Sergio Andres Higuita, Jonas Rutsch, Michael Valgren

Groupama-FDJ

Team Leader: David Gaudu
Objective: stage and sprint wins, general classification
Rider to watch: Arnaud Démare

In the past, the absence and physical woes of Thibaut Pinot would have left Groupama-FDJ rudderless and team manager Marc Madiot miserable. However, the French team have slowly hedged their bets in the last two seasons, using their growing budget to retain Démare, sign Küng and give Gaudu time to develop.

Now, in the absence of Pinot, they all get a chance to shine in their home race, with Madiot no doubt proud to be in Brittany for the Grand Depart.

Gaudu crashed hard at a Tenerife altitude camp but bounced back at the Dauphine to finish ninth overall and get his preparation back on track. Now 24 and wise beyond his years, Gaudu's two mountain victories at last year's Vuelta a España convinced him he can compete at the Tour de France. He is not afraid to attack or be the French favourite, so a top-five placing and a stage win are possible despite a lack of mountain support.     

Küng will be a favourite for the time trials and then help with Démare's lead-out train. The French sprinter won four stages and the points jersey at the 2020 Giro d'Italia and is hungry to be back at the Tour with full support from Ignatus Konovalovas, Miles Scotson and precious lead-out man Jacopo Guarnieri.

Démare may struggle on the early uphill sprints but should come into his own from stage 6 to Chateauroux, across the south of France and especially in Paris.

Full line-up: David Gaudu, Arnaud Démare, Stefan Küng, Bruno Armirail, Valentin Madouas, Ignatas Konovalovas, Miles Scotson and precious leadout man Jacopo Guarnieri.

Ineos Grenadiers

Ineos Grenadiers dominated in the Critérium du Dauphiné

Ineos Grenadiers dominated in the Critérium du Dauphiné (Image credit: Getty Images)

Team Leader: Geraint Thomas
Objective: overall victory
Riders to watch: Richard Carapaz and Tao Geoghegan Hart

Ineos Grenadiers boasts three Grand Tour winners in its eight-rider roster in Geraint Thomas, Richard Carapaz and Tao Geoghegan Hart, as well as Richie Porte who finished third in last year's Tour de France.

It is a veritable Grand Tour assortment of riches and, though the politics of managing so many protected riders may prove difficult, this strategy of utilising multiple contenders has yielded success for the Ineos Grenadiers in the past.

The team's strength extends beyond the quartet and whoever becomes the eventual protected leader will be able to count on the experience of Michal Kwiatkowski, Luke Rowe, Jonathan Castroviejo and Dylan van Baarle.

For all their strength in depth, Ineos Grenadiers perhaps lack a leader able to go shoulder to shoulder with Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar, hence Dave Brailsford's claim they will race hard for every kilometre of the race.

However, the last time they won a stage race with Roglič in the peloton was the 2018 Tour de France, and they have never won a stage race with Tadej Pogačar on the start line.

Full line-up: Richard Carapaz, Jonathan Castroviejo, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Michał Kwiatkowski, Richie Porte, Luke Rowe, Geraint Thomas, Dylan van Baarle

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux

Team Leader: Louis Meintjes
Objective: stage wins
Rider to watch: Danny van Poppel

The Belgian team bought their way into the 2021 WorldTour and the Tour de France by taking over the CCC team licence.

They struggled for success until Taco van der Hoorn leapt away to win at the Giro d'Italia in Novara and will surely be hoping to pull off a similar surprise victory in the Tour de France.

Meintjes may forgo the overall classification for a chance of a stage victory, while Jan Bakelants and Loic Vliegen will try their hand in breaks.

Danny van Poppel, with support from his brother Boy, will no doubt dive into the sprint finish in the hope of taking his first win of 2021.

Jonas Koch was second in the German national championships and on form, so he could do what Taco did.

Full line-up: Louis Meintjes, Jan Bakelants, Jonas Koch, Lorenzo Rota, Danny van Poppel, Boy van Poppel, Loic Vliegen, Georg Zimmermann.

Israel Start-Up Nation

Michael Woods in the Tour de Suisse

Michael Woods in the Tour de Suisse (Image credit: Getty Images)

Team Leader: Michael Woods
Objective: stage wins, general classification
Rider to watch: Chris Froome

Much of the pre-race coverage of Israel Start-Up Nation centred on whether four-time champion Chris Froome would be selected for the Tour de France. The team eventually confirmed that he will form part of their squad, though as the road captain rather than the team leader, with Michael Woods given protected status and the role of responsibility.

Froome's intended return to Tour winning form after his career-threatening crash two years ago has not yet materialised, and so in truth, he is being deployed as a highly-paid domestique. It remains to be seen how he will fare in this unfamiliar position.

Woods will have to fulfil the role of team leader, seeking to target both stage wins and a high position on the general classification. His racing pedigree is now sound, having achieved both these objectives at the Vuelta a España in recent years, though not during the same edition of the race. A top ten in the Tour would be considered a success for the likeable Canadian.

Israel Start-Up Nation's other options and their hopes lie in Dan Martin for mountain stage wins and with André Greipel in the sprints. The veteran has won 11 Tour stages over the years and is back on form and so has been given a chance, alongside fellow German Rick Zabel.

Full line-up: Michael Woods, Dan Martin, Chris Froome, Guillaume Boivin, Reto Hollenstein, André Greipel, Rick Zabel, Omar Goldstein.

Jumbo-Visma

Team Leader: Primož Roglič
Objective: overall victory, stage wins
Rider to watch: Wout van Aert

Jumbo-Visma will be seeking to banish the horrors of the time trial defeat at La Planche des Belles Filles in which Primož Roglič conceded nearly two minutes and the yellow jersey to his younger compatriot, Tadej Pogačar.

Their team is calibrated around Roglič's tilt at overall victory, with Sepp Kuss, Steven Kruijswijk, Jonas Vingegaard and Robert Gesink providing support in the mountains. Kruijswijk and Kuss are possible alternative leaders if Roglič crashes out or suffers under the weight of expectation.

The multi-talented Wout van Aert will likely act as both super-domestique and stage win hunter, able to compete equally as adeptly in the sprints, time-trials and hillier terrain.

His rivalry with Mathieu van der Poel will find a new arena at the Tour, fascinating observers.

Full line-up: Robert Gesink, Steven Kruijswijk, Sepp Kuss, Tony Martin, Primoz Roglic, Mike Teunissen, Wout van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard.

Lotto Soudal

Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal)

Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Team Leader: Caleb Ewan
Objective: sprint and stage wins
Rider to watch: Thomas De Gendt

Caleb Ewan's stated objective for this season is to win stages in all three Grand Tours. He accomplished the first step of this at the Giro d'Italia and will expect to add to his existing five Tour de France stage wins in July.

This year's route is especially generous to sprinters, offering perhaps seven opportunities for a sprint finish, giving Ewan ample opportunity to win at least one more Tour stage. Some are uphill and in the third week but Ewan has shown he can fight for every chance of victory.

Although the Lotto Soudal team is predominantly built around Ewan, via Roger Kluge, Jasper De Buyst and Australia's Harry Sweeny, it is not entirely dependent upon him for success. Thomas de Gendt is a formidable breakaway contender when at his best, whilst Philippe Gilbert has proved his quality time and time again.

If given the opportunity, any one of these could achieve their own stage win.

Full line-up: Caleb Ewan, Roger Kluge, Jasper De Buyst, Harry Sweeny, Philippe Gilbert, Tosh Van der Sande, Brent Van Moer and Thomas De Gendt.

Movistar Team

Team Leader: Miguel Angel López
Objective: stage victories and overall classification
Rider to watch: Alejandro Valverde

Destiny means that Movistar will throw their full force at the Tour de France yet again, with Miguel Angel López and Enric Mas leading the general classification challenge while Alejandro Valverde and Marc Soler are also in the final eight.

Iván García Cortina, Carlos Verona, Imanol Erviti and Jorge Arcas complete the experienced lineup that will show off a new kit for the race.

López is in his first season at Movistar after joining from Astana last winter. The Colombian placed sixth overall on his Tour debut last September, winning atop the Col de la Loze but his poor time trial skills saw him drop off the podium in the final time trial to La Planche des Belles Filles. Despite a bout of COVID-19 early in the season, he is now on form and proved this by winning the recent Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge.

Mas has also recently come good and is usually consistent, while Soler is in the team and on form after riding half of the Giro d'Italia until crashing out.

Valverde is now 41 but refuses to retire and is using the Tour as a launchpad towards the Tokyo Olympics and a final season in the 2022 peloton. His solid Ardennes campaign and stage win at the Dauphiné shows there is life in the old dog yet.

Full line-up: Miguel Angel López, Enric Mas, Alejandro Valverde, Marc Soler, Iván García Cortina, Carlos Verona, Imanol Erviti and Jorge Arcas.

Team Arkéa-Samsic

Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic)

Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Team Leader: Nairo Quintana
Objective: stage and sprint victories
Rider to watch: Nacer Bouhanni

Team Arkéa-Samsic are based in Rennes in southern Brittany and will be racing with pride during the early stages, hoping that Nacer Bouhanni can strike early before Nairo Quintana and Warren Barguil take over in the mountains.

Bouhanni has never won a stage at the Tour de France and only recently made his comeback from a two-month ban for dangerous sprinting. He suffered the psychological effects of racial abuse but was fifth in the final sprint at the Baloise Belgium Tour and so could be on the way back to his best. 

Both Bouhanni and Quintana can expect to receive support from Connor Swift. The former British champion was praised for the way he guided Quintana through the treacherous flat stages last year and showcased his form with victory at the recent Tro Bro Léon. Dan McLay will be a key lead-out man and alternative for Bouhanni, while Elie Gesbert can help Quintana and Barguil in the absence of Winner Anaconda.

Full line-up: Warren Barguil, Nairo Quintana, Nacer Bouhanni, Elie Gesbert, Connor Swift, Clement Russo, Dan McLay and Anthony Delaplace.

Team BikeExchange

Team Leader: Lucas Hamilton
Objective: overall classification and stage wins
Rider to watch: Michael Matthews

The Australian team focused on the overall classification at the Giro d'Italia with Simon Yates winning a stage and finishing third overall but the big goal for the Tour de France will be stage victories with Yates, Michael Matthews and Esteban Chaves.

Matthews is a real contender for the opening uphill sprint finishes and has the class to wreck the ambitions of Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel, Peter Sagan and anyone else. Consistency would also give him a shot at a second green points jersey

Yates is clinical in the way he rides and wins and there are a number of mountain stages that suit his climbing style and fast finish. Chaves is Yates' alter ego but can win in the same way.

Lucas Hamilton has the role of protected GC rider but with little pressure on his young shoulders and focus on learning for the future. It will be fascinating to watch as the 25-year-old discovers his Grand Tour limit. He was fourth in the 2017 Tour de L'Avenir and fourth in this year's Paris-Nice so the stage racing ability is there to be nurtured and developed.

The rest of the team is experienced and Grand Tour ready, with Luke Durbridge, Christopher Juul-Jensen, Luka Mezgec, Amund Grøndahl Jansen completing the roster.

Full line-up: Luke Durbridge, Christopher Juul-Jensen, Luka Mezgec, Simon Yates, Esteban Chaves, Michael Matthews, Amund Grøndahl Jansen, Lucas Hamilton.

Team DSM

Soren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM)

Soren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Team Leader: Søren Kragh Andersen
Objective: stage wins
Rider to watch: Mark Donovan

The victors of three stages in last year's Tour de France, Team DSM will be looking to replicate that success in this edition of the race despite the loss of Marc Hirschi and the absence of Romain Bardet and Jai Hindley.

Their team is packed with stage-hunters, spearheaded by Søren Kragh Andersen and Tiesj Benoot and will direct all its resources towards the pursuit of stage victories on virtually every terrain of this year's race.

In the sprints, Cees Bol will be aiming to improve upon his four top-10 finishes in last year's race, offering another option for taking a stage win. Watch for Team DSM's well-drilled lead-out train take on Deceuninck-QuickStep and Lotto Soudal in the final kilometres of the flat stages.

Britain's Mark Donovan makes his Tour debut at just 22 after impressing at last year's Vuelta a España.

Full line-up: Søren Kragh Andersen, Tiesj Benoot, Cees Bol, Mark Donovan, Nils Eekhoff, Joris Nieuwenhuis, Casper Pedersen and Jasha Sütterlin.

Team TotalEnergies

Team Leader: Pierre Latour
Objective: stage wins
Rider to watch: Anthony Turgis

The French ProTeam have undergone a name change and bright brand refresh and team manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau will be hoping his Tour de France results stand out as much as the rainbow-coloured clothing.

Pierre Latour was signed as team leader for 2021 and seemed to be finding form at the Tour de Suisse. He can time trial, climb and race aggressively and was 13th in the 2018 Tour and won the best young rider's white jersey.

Edvald Boasson Hagen can never be written off for a stage win, while Fabien Doubey, Cristian Rodriguez, Jérémy Cabot and Victor de la Parte all make their Tour debut.

Anthony Turgis, second in this year's Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and fourth in last year's Tour of Flanders is the rider to watch in the first week's Classics-like stages.

Full line-up: Pierre Latour, Anthony Turgis, Edvald Boasson Hagen  Fabien Doubey, Cristian Rodriguez, Jérémy Cabot, Victor de la Parte and Julien Simon.

Qhubeka Assos

Nicholas Dlamini

Nicholas Dlamini (Qhubeka Assos) (Image credit: Team Qhubeka ASSOS)

Team Leader: Sergio Henao
Objective: stage victories
Rider to watch: Nic Dlamini

Nic Dlamini will make history as the first Black South African to compete at the Tour de France as Qhubeka Assos look for opportunities and exposure with attacks and adventure as they did so successfully at the Giro d'Italia.

For the Tour, the African team will be hoping Sergio Henao, Simon Clarke, Michael Gogl, sprinter Max Walscheid and the ever aggressive Victor Campenaerts can all sniff out the best occasions and repeat what Mauro Schmid, Giacomo Nizzolo and Campenaerts did in those five emotional days in May.

The USA's Sean Bennett could be the surprise of the Tour team while Henao brings his Team Sky and Grand Tour experience. Carlos Barbero was a late replacement for Fabio Aru after the Italian struggled to find form for the Tour.

Full line-up: Nic Dlamini, Simon Clarke, Sergio Henao, Simon Clarke, Michael Gogl, Max Walscheid, Victor Campenaerts, Sean Bennett, Carlos Barbero.

Trek-Segafredo

Team Leader: Bauke Mollema
Objective: overall classification and stage wins
Rider to watch: Mads Pedersen

Trek-Segafredo endured three second places and three third places across the 21 stages of the 2020 Tour de France but got to celebrate Richie Porte's podium spot in Paris. They hope to change their placing into victories in 2021, with Bauke Mollema stepping up to fill Porte's shoes and target the GC this year.

Stages of every kind will be hotly contested at this year's Tour but Trek-Segafredo have Milan-San Remo winner Jasper Stuyven, former world champion Mads Pedersen and Edward Theuns for the different fast finishes, while Vincenzo Nibali, Kenny Elissonde, Toms Skujiņš and Julien Bernard will target the mountain stages.

Mollema chased stages at the Giro d'Italia but will change roles for the Tour and look to find the consistency that has given him five Grand Tour top tens over the years.

Full line-up: Julien Bernard, Kenny Elissonde, Bauke Mollema, Vincenzo Nibali, Mads Pedersen, Toms Skujiņš, Jasper Stuyven and Edward Theuns.

UAE Team Emirates

Defending champion Tadej Pogacar on the final stage of the 2020 Tour de France

Defending champion Tadej Pogacar on the final stage of the 2020 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Team Leader: Tadej Pogačar
Objective: overall victory
Rider to watch: Marc Hirschi

Analyses of the 2020 Tour de France frequently highlighted that Tadej Pogačar, while ultimately the strongest rider in the race, benefitted massively from the strength of rival team Jumbo-Visma rather than his own UAE Team Emirates squad.

In the intervening nine months, UAE Team Emirates have strengthened their roster considerably for this year's defence of the yellow jersey. Pogačar can count on the USA's Brandon McNulty, Mikkel Bjerg, Rafał Majka, Vegard Stake Laengen, Davide Formolo, veteran Rui Costa and new signing Marc Hirschi. 

Such is their focus on overall victory, there is no room for sprinter Alexander Kristoff despite him winning the opening stage last year.

Tadej Pogačar, meanwhile, has carried his imperious 2020 form into 2021, winning the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Slovenia, all without seeming to suffer the weight of fame and expectation.

Such form, allied to an even stronger team than in September, will surely provide a counterweight to the strength of Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers and spark a three-way super-team showdown.

Hirschi will return to the scene of his breakthrough race, albeit with very different objectives to his breakaway exploits of last year. Stage wins from the Swiss rider would be a bonus for this team with designs on a second overall victory in Paris.

Full line-up: Tadej Pogačar, Brandon McNulty, Mikkel Bjerg, Rafał Majka, Davide Formolo, Rui Costa, Davide Formolo, Marc Hirschi and Vegard Stake Laengen