The 2015 Tour de France will be the 102nd edition of the famous cycle race. As always the bulk of the Tour de France will be, as the name suggests, staged in France. However this year, The Tour will start in Utrecht, which is in the Netherlands. This will be the sixth time that the Tour de France has has started in the Netherlands, which may come as a surprise considering it has no actual border with the country. The Tour finishes in Paris.
This year the Tour de France will be held between the dates of July 4th and July 26th.
The Tour consists of 21 different stages, seven of which are mountain stages. The remaining 14 stages include an individual time trial, which gets the 2015 Tour de France started in Utrecht. Following that, there are a total of 5 flat stages, one of which features cobbles between Seraing and Cambrai. It’s the second time in succession that The Tour will feature a cobbled section. There are 4 hilly stages, 3 medium mountain stages and a single team time trial, which is staged between Vannes and Plumelec. In addition to the 21 stages, the cyclists can also enjoy two rest days, which are on the 13th of July and 21st of July.
In addition to the seven mountain stages, there are also five summit finishes and the 2015 Tour appears to favor the climbers. There are five main classifications during the Tour de France with the main one being the general classification. This is the combined total of each cyclist’s finishing times at the end of every stage. As The Tour progresses, the cyclist with the lowest accumulative time will be awarded the yellow jersey. This year sees the return of time bonuses, which will be awarded at the end of every stage. The time bonuses are 10 seconds for the stage winner, 6 for second place and 4 for third place. The cyclist who finishes the Tour de France with the lowest combined time from the 21 stages will be the over-all winner.
The remaining four classifications, which the cyclists will be competing for, are the points classification, the mountains classification, young riders classification and team classification. The cyclists who are leading each of these classifications can be identified by a green jersey, polka dot jersey, white jersey and yellow numbers and helmets respectively.
The 2015 Tour de France is the 18th race of the 2015 UCI World Tour and will feature a total of 22 different teams. There are 17 teams from the UCI World Tour competing in addition to 5 professional continental teams. Each team is allowed a total of nine riders.
Of all the teams and cyclists competing, there are a select group who really stand out as being potential winners of the 2015 Tour de France. They are Giro d’Italia winner Alberto Contador of the Tinkoff-Saxo team, Vincenzo Nibali of the Astana team, Chris Froome of Team Sky and Nairo Quintana of the Movistar team. Collectively known as the ‘fantastic four’, bookmaker Bwin agrees that these are the four riders to watch out for in the general classification.
The favorite at 3.00 with Bwin is Team Sky’s Chris Froome. The British rider has struggled with form during the early stages of the season but a win at the Critérium du Dauphiné gives confidence that Froome could mount a challenge this year. However, Froome will need to eliminate from memory what happened in 2014 after he crashed out during the fifth stage of the race between Ypres and Arenberg Porte du Hainaut. The 30 year old’s final mountain stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné were particularly impressive and given the route of The Tour in 2015, this bodes very well indeed.
【2014 Tour de France: Froome Crashing Out】
Second favorite at 3.25 is Nairo Quintana. The Colombian is aiming to become the first South American to win the Tour de France and the route seems to suit him well. There is only one individual time trial and one team trial, which is ideal for Quintana, however the Movistar rider has only completed four days racing in the past two months. News is Quintana has been spending time training at home, which is exactly what he did before landing the Giro d’Italia in 2014.
Priced at 4.85 with Bwin is this year’s Giro d’Italia winner Alberto Contador. Perhaps the fact that no cyclist has completed the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France double for 17 years is working against Contador as opposed to his actual chances of winning the event. The Spaniard is in great form. No one can question that and having won the Route du Sud in June, he has to be considered a serious contender. Contador will certainly like the look of the 2015 route with plenty of mountainous sections included.
【2015 Route de Sud: Final Stages Featuring Contador】
Considered the fourth genuine contender for the 2015 Tour de France general classification is Vincenzo Nibali. The Italian won the 2014 Tour impressively with the biggest winning margin since 1997. Nibali, who is priced at 6.00 with Bwin, appears to be holding back his best for The Tour again this year having failed to really contest with his rivals leading up to the event. Nonetheless, given Nibali’s performance in 2014, the other contenders can ill afford to under estimate the defending champion.
Although the four names above are clear favorites to contest the Tour de France, the withdrawal of Chris Froome in 2014 shows that anything can happen. So, who could be in place to cause an upset? Thibaut Pinot has been in good form this year as a team leader and will be looking to build on his overall finish of third in 2014. At 4.50 with Bwin to finish in the top three, Pinot could be worth backing and the Frenchman is 21.00 to win the general classification.
In terms of the mountain classification, it’s hard to look beyond Contador and Quintana. However, do not rule out the likes of Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver, who is priced at 16.00 to come out on top. The battle for the Green Jersey is expected to be contested between Peter Sagan, Alexander Kristoff and Mark Cavendish. Three-time winner Sagan is the favorite at 1.85 with Bwin, however with the increase in points available on the flat stages, this does not favor the Slovakian. Therefore Kristoff, priced at 4.50, could represent better value.
The 2015 Tour de France field is certainly one of the strongest in many years but the course definitely suits the climbers. Alberto Contador will be confident of completing the double having already claimed the Giro d’Italia. That being said, with that race already in his legs, things could open up for the well-rested Nairo Quintana. At 3.25, the Colombian has what it takes to make history and become the first Latin American to win the Tour de France.