While this blog never ventures to much into the pro scene, there is no time like Tour de France time for some click bait, amirite? Like the Yates bros. guys. They are just like so good and they are definitely going places. And that Louis Meintjes kid, he is the bee's knees.
Anyways, the Tour de France starts today and I'm not over the top excited. Yes, it is the biggest race of the year with non-cycling people even getting excited for it. Yet, I'm a bit apathetic about the whole thing. I get pumped for the U23 riders and many of the smaller races yet the Grand Tours? I fancy the breakaway stages but the majority of the GC fight, I tend to tune out unless it is a rider that I might pull for.
In any case, the youth classification at the Tour de France is for U-26 riders and if you look at the start list, the youth classification is stacked with 32 talented riders with many that are going to be results makers this year.
There will only be a few that are fighting for the youth classification overall. The glaring favorites are Nairo Quintana and Thibaut Pinot, who are both going to be fighting for overall podium places. While Quintana is probably the distinct favorite with his 2nd overall in 2013 in the Tour de France and his win in the Giro d'Italia last year, Pinot is coming in hot after finishing in the top 5 overall in four out of his last five stage races and won two big mountain stages in the Tour de Romandie and Suisse.
Past Quintana and Pinot, others that shouldn't be too far away are Romain Bardet, Simon and Adam Yates, Warren Barguil and Wilco Kelderman. These are just the riders that could be going for GC too.
Guys that could steal a mountain stage win? Tim Wellens and Louis Meintjes.
The other very strong all-around riders include Michael Matthews, Michal Kwiatkowski, Tom Dumoulin, Rohan Dennis, Eduardo Sepulveda and Bob Jungels. The includes the current World Champion, a former U23 World champion, a couple of stage 1 top 10 favorites and a former Hour Record holder, among other things.
Did I not mention Peter Sagan is also in the youth classification? Also sprinters Bryan Coquard, Marco Haller, Nacer Bouhanni, Sam Bennett and Arnaud Demare. If they get lucky, that group can pull in 4 stage wins? Well...3 by Sagan.
Not into sprinters or mountain guys? We have head-smashers like Luke Durbridge, Michael Valgren, Georg Preidler and Dylan van Baarle. They will go to the front and make you wish for a big peloton crash so the pace would halt.
Who hasn't been mentioned...Angelo Tulik? Definitely in a breakaway and could be in the hunt for a breakaway win. The Cofidis trio of Kenneth Vanbilsen, Christophe Laporte and Florian Senechal. Lots of talent but probably going to be a long race for them. Luke Rowe will be bottle duty for Froome. Emanuel Buchmann, the Emu from Bora-Argon 18, was on fine form in the German National Championships and I predict a 37th overall finish.
The last rider of this...thing is Merhawi Kudus of MTN-Qhubeka. The young Eritrean is a talented climber that will one day be at the front of the race. I will be surprised if he finishes the race in the top 100 overall. He finished the Vuelta last year but he still has a few years before he will contend.
My predictions? Quintana will win the white jersey...and the overall. Pinot will finish 4th overall and 2nd in the classification. Bardet will be 7th overall and 3rd in the youth.
The young rider will win 8 stages including 3 by Sagan, 1 by Matthews, 1 by Quintana, 1 by Pinot, 1 by Kwiatkowski and 1 by Dumoulin.
Out of the 32 young riders, 27 will finish.
This concludes my Tour de France writing for 2015. Bonne Chance!