So, who’s going to win the brightly coloured jerseys?
Well, it’s been a huge shake-up across teams, and whilst Ineos Grendiers have the lion’s share of Grand Tour winners, it’s still a very open season.
Predictions and speculations;
Geraint Thomas (Ineos): Focusing on Le Tour, but a return to form has been a long-time coming, almost three years since he picked up pole position, pipped by ruthless ‘teammate’ Egan Bernal when he went for the double. Can he do it this year? Maybe. 6/10 chance.
Ganna Filippo (Ineos): Pretty much going to slay every track, TT and TTT race this year. Someone should check he’s not a Terminator. 9/10 chance on any TT/TTT race.
Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal): The young Australian rider put the scare up a few of the big names in every race he rode in 2020, coming from nowhere, to place himself directly in with the sprinters, nicely up the climbs and taking stage victory after stage victory on some of the biggest stages cycling has to offer. Some have speculated, that being in a team like Lotto-Soudal might hold him back. They might be right, but I would imagine with more victories in an under-funded team, brings bigger sponsors and bigger pay days. Could he win Le Tour? Not yet. But he’s a podium contender.
Tadej Pogačar (Team UAE): The Slovenian that decimated Primož Roglič’s hopes of winning Le Tour last year, by putting on a show-stopping TT to end the race was insane. I don’t think even he believed he could do it. Check the footage back after he gets off and his coach is crying with excitement – he looks like he’s just been told he’s won the lottery, but only has 30 seconds to live. Can he smash a few grand tours this year? I think he can. Which ones, I don’t know. He’ll have the power-struggle from Ineos to contend with at Le Tour, as well as fellow-Slovenian Roglič and his Jumbo-Visma power train, Bernal aiming for the Vuelta and young-gun (and surprise 2020 winner) Tao Geoghegan Hart likely to turn up at the Giro, expecting at least a shot to retain his title. He’s turned up to a bike race and it must feel like everyone else is planning on bringing motorcycles, just to keep him off their back.
Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): It’s not all about Roglič. There are at least two other big riders in the Jumbo camp. Van Aert has shown he has the legs to stay with the most gritted breakaways in the 2020 season, but dropped his chances several times in the interest of the team lead. If he is let of the leash this year, I can see him taking surprise wins away from the obvious choices, not just in the criteriums or the bigger Paris-Nice races, but full-on Grand Tours. I’d even bet a tenner on there being two JV riders on the podium at Le Tour this year, but this young man taking the higher of the two positions.