The build-up is almost over as we await the first stage of the 2014 Tour de France in Yorkshire and in anticipation of the event we’ve cast an eye over three outsiders who could be in the reckoning.
Andrew Talansky, Jurgen Van den Broeck and Romain Bardet make our shortlist of selections with each contender boasting enough pedigree and potential to make the podium.
Surprise Criterium du Dauphine winner Andrew Talansky could well cause another upset by gatecrashing this year’s Tour de France General Classification.
The 25-year-old was an impressive 10th on his Tour debut last year and Garmin-Sharp’s Talansky now has more success firmly in his sights.
Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, the last two Dauphine victors, went on to take the ultimate prize on the Champs-Elyssee.
And while Talansky might not quite reach those heights don’t write off the chances of the ever-improving American.
Coming third in this year’s Criterium du Dauphine marked a significant upturn in fortunes for Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck.
Having recovered from a series of knee injuries, including one sustained on last year’s Tour, Van den Broeck has re-emerged “stronger than ever” according to Lotto-Belisol manager Marc Sergeant.
It was a much-needed boost for the 31-year-old who has managed fourth-place in cycling’s premier event twice before in 2010 and 2012.
And although he may struggle to reel in market leaders Alberto Contador and Chris Froome there is room for Van den Broeck to muscle in on the top three if he can continue his revival.
The locals are going to be out in force supporting their homegrown favourites. And in 23-year-old Romain Bardet they have a talent who is sure to excite once again having finished as his country’s best Tour de France rider in 2013.
AG2R Mondiale’s Bardet has carved out a reputation as a seriously strong climber and will be one to watch, especially in the grinding hill stages such as Saint-Etienne-Chamrousse.
Getting close to elite will be a tough ask. But it’s time for the French new wave of cyclists to finally deliver on their potential.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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