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Out now: Procycling Tour de France 2018 preview

Procycling's in-depth analysis of the 2018 Tour de France route and its cast of stars is out now.

For the July issue, the team took a deep dive into the route to discover where the traps and opportunities lie in the 105th edition. Spoiler alert: it's a mightily hard edition that starts tough, gets harder and is practically unspeakable by week three. Andy Schleck, Erik Zabel, Karsten Kroon and Stuart O'Grady provide expert insight to each stage in a 36-page souvenir supplement.

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In the spring, Procycling shadowed Tour GC riders such as Romain Bardet and Nairo Quintana as they made rare forays onto the Belgian cobbles. Their mission was to get a feel for the rocky road to hell that awaits them on stage 9 to Roubaix, which promises to be one of the most decisive stages of the race. Procycling found out how teams are planning to negotiate a nightmare stage that will almost certainly end a couple of yellow jersey dreams.

Going to the Tour with two GC contenders is a tried and tested strategy. It's a good one until personal ambition destroys team unity. So what to make of Movistar's plan to send three leaders to the Tour? Wily Alejandro Valverde, charismatic Nairo Quintana and ambitious Mikel Landa are all set to ride. Procycling looks at whether these three can combine effectively to take on the might of Sky and AG2R.

Warren Barguil became the darling of the 2017 Tour when he won two stages and the polka dot jersey. The success triggered the severance of his contract with Sunweb in favour of all-out leadership at the Breton squad Fortuneo-Samsic. The move has been a difficult one and Barguil's form has faltered. Procycling asked the 26-year-old what's gone wrong and whether he can put it right in time for the Tour.

It's not just about the GC. This year promises rich pickings for one of the greatest casts of sprinters in the race's history. Between them, André Greipel, Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish have won 29 per cent of Tour stages since 2008. Cavendish is just four wins away from an all-time stage win record. But are they the fading forces of the final straight? 2017 could be the year Dylan Groenewegen and Fernando Gaviria, both class acts, banish the old guard for good.

And of course, there's Chris Froome, the four-time winner. His assault on the record books continues at pace, having added a Vuelta and Giro title to his palmarès in the past 10 months. His salbutamol case has been dropped but the incident and its handling has stoked disgruntlement in France. Procycling looks at how the reaction to him was shaped in the months leading to the Tour.

Procycling's Tour de France preview is available online, via subscription and in newsagents now.

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