Tour de France: Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Joaquim Rodriguez among contenders
Andy Charles looks at ten riders who could challenge for overall victory at the 2013 Tour de France
Last Updated: 27/06/13 1:03pm
Here, Sky Sports looks at ten men who could contend for overall victory...
Chris Froome (Team Sky)
Froome goes into the race as a strong favourite and, judged on his form this season, it is hard to argue with that. The Briton was second to Sir Bradley Wiggins last year and probably could have won had he been ruthless with his team-mate. He has won the Tour of Oman, Criterium International, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine this year and proved all but peerless in the mountains, as well as being among the world's best time-trial riders. That is a mixture expected to see him pull on the yellow jersey in Paris on July 21.
Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff)
A two-time winner of the race, in 2007 and 2009, Contador reproved his Grand Tour pedigree following a suspension by winning last year's Vuelta a Espana. Has been in indifferent form this season and sure to trouble Froome at times, but it remains to be seen whether he can maintain his bursts long enough to distance the Team Sky rider and keep him there.
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)
The Spanish climber has made the Tour his aim this season and the mountainous parcours should suit his style. His bursts on the climbs are the equal of Froome and Contador, but key to his chances of overall victory will be gaining enough time on his rivals in the mountains to offset the time he will lose in the time trials, which are a weakness in his armoury. Mountain stage wins are nigh on a certainty.
Cadel Evans (BMC)
A second Tour victory for the Australian could well be very tough given the exacting efforts he made in finishing third in May's Giro d'Italia. Undoubtedly a huge presence in the peloton, his best days would seem to be behind him, but he still has the hunger to succeed and strong, all-round attributes. Having Tejay van Garderen (see below) around as a second BMC challenger could make for some tough decisions.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
Second to Contador in last year's Vuelta and winner of stage 17 of last year's Tour, Valverde is a climber who has the ability to duel with the best in the world in the high mountains, and so will like the look of this year's route. He finished 20th in the Tour last year, but that seemed to be a race he wasn't quite ready for. He should do better this year and will have an eye on a podium position.
Richie Porte (Team Sky)
If ill-fortune befalls Froome, it could well be Porte who takes advantage. The Tasmanian has impressed all season, winning Paris-Nice and finishing second to him at the Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine. A podium place is up for grabs even in support to his close friend, but that will probably depend how much leading Froome up some of the toughest climbs the Tour can offer takes out of him.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
Is it asking too much for a Tour rookie to win on his debut? Probably yes, but the Colombian climber is going to be a tough competitor and will fancy his chances of winning the young riders' white jersey at the very least. Former winner of the Tour De l'Avenir (the futures Tour), his form this season has been excellent, winning the Tour of the Basque Country ahead of the likes of Contador.
Tejay van Garderen (BMC)
The American broke through in 2012, finishing fifth overall and taking the white jersey after starting out in support of Cadel Evans, who fell ill. Third behind Froome and Porte in the Criterium International this year, fourth in Paris-Nice and an impressive winner at the Tour of California, it could be a podium and another white jersey for the 24-year-old.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp)
Candidate with Sir Bradley Wiggins for the season's most unlucky rider, having fallen ill in the Giro and fallen off in the Tour de Suisse. Has two top-20 finishes in the Tour, but needs some luck to arrive if he is to make the top five this season. Undoubtedly one of the toughest competitors in the peloton, though.
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
One of last season's stars, Pinot's stage win into Porrentruy will live long in the memory for his sporting director Marc Madiot's manic reaction. France finally has a potential Tour winner, but whether it will happen this year is another question. His battle with van Garderen and Quintana for the white jersey could be a thriller.