Displaying his three-week potential with seventh overall at the 2013 edition of the Tour, Fuglsang has ridden in support of Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru during the majority of his Astana tenure. However, with both Italians now departed, he takes on a greater leadership role for 2018 with the opportunity to convert his one-week success to the three-week format.
Winner of the Critérium du Dauphiné in June, Fuglsang's Tour was heading in a similarly successful direction until an innocuous crash ended his GC ambitions on stage 11. Sitting fifth overall at the time, he was able to start the following day but succumbed to his injuries on stage 13. Nevertheless, the opening 11 stages were confirmation for Fuglsang that he can contend for a Tour podium.
"It is for sure a good season with the biggest win of my career in the Dauphiné. I showed again in the Tour before I crashed that I had the level to be in the front," Fuglsang told Cyclingnews at the Tour of Guangxi last month.
"All in all, it has been a good season and of course it could have been better but I am happy with the year. There are a lot of things I can take with me into next year. The fact that I came back winning again after four years without winning anything and won a race like the Dauphiné, and the fact I have the level to be at the front with the very best."
Since joining the WorldTour in 2009 with Saxo Bank, Fuglsang's seasons have featured either the Tour or Vuelta a España, with the exception of 2012 when he was held back from Grand Tour racing by RadioShack. In 2016, Fuglsang made his Giro d'Italia debut, helping Nibali to the maglia rosa. The Tour, however, is Fuglsang's bread and butter and, with a parcours suited to his characteristics, he will return for a seventh start in 2018.
"That is the plan, that the Tour will be the main goal for the season," Fuglsang said.
"Of course the Tour presentation was when we were already here so I haven't been able to look so much but I have looked a little bit. It looks interesting, it looks hard. For me, I think it can be a good Tour with the cobblestone stage. In general, I think the parcours can fit me quite well."
Since the unveiling of the route in Paris's Palais des Congrès late October, the name most commonly mentioned as the primary barrier between Chris Froome and a fifth title is Giro d'Italia winner Tom Dumoulin. The world time trial champion has enjoyed success at the Tour but is yet to start the race with pure GC ambitions.
While the Dutchman is yet to show his cards for 2018, Fuglsang believes he can be a challenger to Froome. However, the strength of Froome’s Team Sky is likely to trump that of Sunweb, he adds as a caveat.
"We saw with Dumoulin at the Giro, that he doesn't have the team that Froomey has behind him," Fuglsang said. "I think not to make Froome's Tour win smaller than the other years… I think basically he was good but he had the strongest team and it was more thanks to the team. At the Vuelta, he was clearly the strongest rider.
“You need a strong team in the Tour and I think Sunweb will have difficulties, but it will be interesting if they are both in the Tour."
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