The 2020 Tour de France is still some way off, with a revised start date of August 29, but that hasn't stopped two-time winner Alberto Contador from tipping reigning champion Egan Bernal as the hot favourite to defend his yellow jersey.
Contador made the prediction in an interview aired on Colombian radio station Caracol, stating that Bernal's maturity and the strength of Team Ineos both contribute to his success.
"If I had to indicate a top favourite now, I would definitely go for Egan Bernal," Contador said. "He has a strong team behind him. Moreover, Bernal is already very mature, both in the race and away from it."
Alberto Contador and the Giro d'Italia that never was
Alberto Contador: Chris Froome is perfectly capable of winning a fifth Tour de France
Egan Bernal expects Ineos Tour de France leadership to be decided in early mountain stages
Egan Bernal: I won't sacrifice myself for Froome and Thomas at Tour de France
The 35-year-old claims he has recovered from his career-threatening crash suffered at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné, though his limited exposure to racing since recovery has given little insight into his current fitness.
Contador, however, maintains that Froome's experience of having won the race in the past means that he is equipped to do so again.
"Froome still has the potential to win the Tour. He knows, just like Bernal, what it means to win the race," he said, adding that Jumbo-Visma's leaders don't have that same experience.
"That's why I put Primož Roglič and Tom Dumoulin a step lower – they haven't managed to finish on the top step."
Contador was also positive about Nairo Quintana's chances of success.
The Colombian is a Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España champion, and has finished on the Tour podium three times, though his Grand Tour form wasn't up to scratch during his last two years at Movistar, with his best result being fourth at last year's Vuelta.
A move to French team Arkéa-Samsic for 2020 saw an upturn in results early this year, as Quintana took wins at the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var and the Tour de la Provence, as well as a victory on the final stage of Paris-Nice, where he finished sixth overall after losing time in the crosswinds early in the race.
The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing race cancellations has taken away the opportunity to see Quintana in July.
"Not many people dare to put their money on Quintana yet, but what he has shown this season is nothing short of impressive," said Contador. "Quintana dominated uphill – no-one has been able to follow yet. He can still win the Tour de France, yes."
The 2020 Tour de France is set to run from August 29 to September 20, part of the revised season calendar published in full by the UCI on Tuesday.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.