2014 Tour de France Preview and Predictions
The parcours of the 2014 Tour de France favors climbers.
of the Dauphine Libere, has raised the expectations of the American squad, which has been shaken up to support him. Throughout that race, he climbed with the best, and he can ride a good time trial, if not a great one. If the American can ride better against the clock, he could approach, but not reach the podium. In any event, he will improve on his 10 th place in his initial Tour.
Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) has become a strong climber, which makes him a GC threat. However, his climbing strength has come at the expense of the former world junior time trial champion’s racing against the clock. Maxime Monfort and Jelle Vanendert will support the Belgian in the mountains, but Lotto-Belisol has historically been a classics squad, and the team’s attempts to set up Andre Greipel for sprints and Tony Gallopin in the medium mountains might spread the squad too thin to provide optimum support for Van den Broeck.
Tejay van Garderen (BMC) finished fifth and won the best young rider competition in the 2012 Tour. Last year, however, the wheels fell off, and the American plummeted to 45 th. This season, the BMC man has had a uneven buildup. He finished second at the Tour of Oman, won a stage of the Volta a Catalunya while finishing third overall, and posted a sixth-place finish at the Tour of the Basque Country. However, he abandoned at Paris-Nice, crashed out of the Tour de Romandie, and finished 13 th at the Dauphine Libere. The American is a good climber and a strong time trialist, and he will have a good team behind him. Van Garderen is still on a learning curve, however, and he will progress toward the podium without reaching it.
Bauke Mollema (Belkin) finished sixth in the 2013 Tour, and he should not be far from that this year. He climbs consistently and is a good but inconsistent time trialist. He had a good buildup with a sixth in the Vuelta a Andalucia, seventh in the Amstel Gold Race, fourth at La Fleche Wallonne, a third place and a stage win in the Tour of Norway, and third in the Tour de Suisse. The Dutchman will have good support in the mountains and should finish in the top 10.
World road race champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) will ride the 2014 Tour as a team captain for the first time. The Portuguese had heard murmurs about the jinx of the world champion until he nailed down his first win of the season at the Tour de Suisse. Truth be told, Costa has had a good buildup, finishing second at Paris-Nice, third at Volta ao Algarve, and third at the Tour de Romandie. The Lampre-Merida man won two mountain stages of last year’s Tour, so he knows how to climb, although he is an inconsistent time trialist. His team might not be as strong as those of other GC contenders.
Two other riders must be looked at. They are Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr). Kwiatkowski