Tour de France: Which teams need to rescue their race in the final week
DSM, Movistar, Ineos and the French wildcards could all do with a final week result
With the Tour de France now two-thirds over and the peloton enjoying a final rest day ahead of three Pyrenean stages, a time trial, and two more sprints, it's a good time to look back at the previous two weeks of racing and take stock of how the 23 teams at the race are faring.
Over the last fortnight, Deceuninck-QuickStep have been dominant, taking five stage wins, holding the green jersey and a day in yellow, while UAE Team Emirates look to be sailing towards another overall victory thanks to Tadej Pogačar.
We've also seen Alpecin-Fenix, Bahrain Victorious, and Jumbo-Visma take two stage wins apiece, while Trek-Segafredo and AG2R Citroën have one, and several other squads – EF Education-Nippo and Bora-Hansgrohe among them – are well on their way to achieving their GC goals.
But what of the teams who haven't yet lived up to expectations? Here we take a look at the teams still searching for success as the Tour reaches its final week.
Team leader Richard Carapaz is still well in the general classification hunt, and things are going better than they were at this stage in the 2020 Tour, when Michał Kwiatkowski went on to salvage their race with a stage 18 victory after Egan Bernal's back problems forced him out of the race.
However, having started the race with Carapaz, Geraint Thomas, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Richie Porte in the team, battling for a seemingly distant second or third place in Paris is far from what was expected from the strongest team to line up in Brest two weeks ago.
There are caveats around the crashes and injuries, of course, with three of Ineos' four-pronged attack falling out of contention by the time the race hit the Alps, but it has still been a disappointing two weeks for the team so far given their own sky-high standards.
A Carapaz stage win in the Pyrenees – and second overall in Paris, barring a miracle collapse by Pogačar – would turn that around, though.
The Spanish squad are another team in and around the GC battle that haven't lived up to expectations. Enric Mas lies eighth overall after 15 days of racing, less than two minutes off the podium, and with a shot of repeating his fifth place from last year, but the team's other leaders haven't delivered.
Alejandro Valverde came closest to glory in Andorra, taking second from the break behind Sepp Kuss, but the odds are against him taking a win before the end of the race and he heads to Tokyo for another bid at Olympic glory.
Miguel Ángel López, the third prong of the trident, has been the most disappointing of the team's leaders, having been largely anonymous so far. He was involved in a crash on stage 3 and hasn't affected the race since – a shame after his stunning performance at the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge at the start of the month.
The Australian squad are another who have been badly affected by crashes, with Simon Yates and Lucas Hamilton both leaving the race after going down in a mass crash on stage 13. Yates represented their best chance of getting a result in the upcoming mountain stages, and now all eyes will be on Esteban Chaves as their sole remaining climber to get into breaks.
On the sprint side, Michael Matthews is still in the green jersey battle, though at 72 points down on leader Mark Cavendish, it'll likely take a withdrawal or missed time cut from the Manxman for him to secure a second points classification win. Matthews was second-best behind Julian Alaphilippe on the opening day but hasn't yet been able to match the quickest sprinters on the flatter sprints.
Reports of disarray within the team have begun to circulate in the past week or so as the team struggles through the Tour – a far cry from last year when Marc Hirschi and Søren Kragh Andersen delivered three stage victories.
This time around, DSM's top results so far have come through Cees Bol's two sixth-place sprint finishes. Meanwhile, the two big hitters Kragh Andersen and Tiesj Benoot have both left early without coming close to a result.
With two sprint stages to go in Libourne and Paris, it'll be all hands on deck to try and beat the Deceuninck-QuickStep train with Bol.
The French wildcard teams
It's a tough ask for wildcard teams, with less funding and weaker squads, to show up to the Tour de France and get a result. Lilian Calmejane's stage 8 win in 2017 was the last time a home-grown wildcard team took a stage at the Tour and that barren run looks likely to extend another year here.
Arkéa-Samsic have come closest so far. The French squad are the strongest of the domestic wildcards, with Nacer Bouhanni taking three sprint podium places and Nairo Quintana firmly among the polka dot jersey battle. However, Bouhanni pulled out in Andorra, and at 31, Quintana looks a shadow of his former self. A win looks a big ask.
Team TotalEnergies came with new signing Pierre Latour leading the team, and after 15 days he lies 57th overall following a good start to the race. B&B Hotels p/b KTM, meanwhile, saw their leader, sprinter Bryan Coquard, take 16th and 17th places before finishing outside the time limit on stage 9. Franck Bonnamour, who took fifth that day, has been a rare bright spot.
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