Blazin' Saddles

Leading Tour de France contenders

Blazin' Saddles

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CHRIS FROOME (Britain, Team Sky, age 28) - aka Froomey

Best Tour performance: 2nd (2012)

Best other grand tour performance: 2nd (Vuelta 2011)

Strengths: Has won four of the five stage races (Oman, Romandie, Criterium International, Criterium du Dauphine) he entered this year. One of the best time trialists, possibly the best climber. Backed by a strong team. The only man to have beaten him on a stage race this season, Italian Vincenzo Nibali, is not on the Tour.

Weaknesses: Has never led a team on the Tour de France.

RICHIE PORTE (Australia, Team Sky, 28)

Best Tour performance: 34th (2012)

Best other grand tour performance: 7th (Giro 2010)

Strengths: Showed by winning Paris-Nice this season that he is a decent stage racer. Also finished second overall in Criterium du Dauphine behind Froome.

Weaknesses: Is Froome's lieutenant so no room for personal ambition.

ALBERTO CONTADOR (Spain, Saxo Tinkoff, 30) - aka El Pistolero

Best Tour performance: 1st (2007, 2009)

Best other grand tour performance: 1st (Vuelta 2008, 2012; Giro 2008)

Strengths: A formidable attacker, always on the offensive, which is a big plus in a very mountainous race. The only active rider with titles in all three grand tours. Solid team behind him

Weaknesses: Lack of results this year. Form does not look that good.

CADEL EVANS (Australia, BMC, 36) - aka Cuddles

Best Tour performance: 1st (2011)

Best other grand tour performance: 3rd (Vuelta 2009, Giro 2013)

Strengths: Knows how a Tour de France is won. Never gives up. Finished third overall in the Giro after a miserable start to the season.

Weaknesses: At 36, he may not perform well in two grand tours in the same year, especially on a very tough Tour route.

TEJAY VAN GARDEREN (United States, BMC, 24)

Best Tour performance: 5th (2012)   

Best other grand tour performance: 35th (Vuelta 2010)

Strengths: Versatility. A decent time trialist and good climber. Last year's performance is a confidence-booster.

Weaknesses: He is not BMC's team leader so little room for personal ambition.

RYDER HESJEDAL (Canada, Garmin-Sharp, 32)

Best Tour performance: 6th (2010)

Best other grand tour performance: 1st (Giro 2012)

Strengths: Very good climber possibly backed by a solid team. Knows he can pull off a great performance having won the Giro last year.

Weaknesses: Withdrew from 2013 Giro with illness and crashed heavily during the Tour of Switzerland earlier this month.

JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ (Spain, Katusha, 34) - aka Purito

Best Tour performance: 7th (2010)

Best other grand tour performance: 2nd (Giro 2012)

Strengths: An excellent finisher. Has the ability to produce sudden accelerations on short and steep climbs.

Weaknesses: Has only ridden one Tour de France. Mediocre time triallist.

THIBAUT PINOT (France, FDJ, 23)

Best Tour performance: 10th (2012)

Best other grand tour performance: --

Strengths: Excellent climber. Took a stage on his Tour debut last year.

Weaknesses: Not a good time trialist although he has improved. Lack of experience.

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