It’s been a while since the Tour de France was this open.
With no Chris Froome to contend with, the 2019 edition of the race could make
for one of the most exciting in recent memeory.
Colombian climb specialist Nairo Quintana certainly believes that there’s a shot at glory.
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He has played second fiddle to four-time winner Froome over
recent years. Froome’s superior
time-trialling and strength in numbers in climbs. But he’s not at the race and
many expect this to liven things up.
“Anything can happen without Froome racing,” the 29-year-old Colombian told a press conference at his Movistar team’s plush residence outside Brussels.
“It’s a bit special, more open, it’ll be a much different Tour than usual,” said Quintana, who enjoyed a friendly rivalry with Froome despite finishing on the podium behind him three times.
Quintana, flanked by his co-leader Mikel Landa and veteran
and world champion Alejandro Valverde, said this year’s course suited his pure
“We did a very intense recon and we needed to do that, it’s crucial.
“It’s an advantage for me going over 2000m altitude several times, I’ve been training at altitude for years,” said the man from the Andes.
Quintana named British rider Adam Yates and Danish Astana
captain, the on-form Jakob Fuglsang, as two of his main rivals on the tour.
“Of course there are the Ineos guys (defending champion Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal), but we will have to keep an eye on Fuglsang, he’s had some very good results lately.”
“And Yates can launch his sudden attacks, but there are loads of guys who will fancy their chances without Froome around,” said Quintana.
The 2019 edition of the tour gets underway in Belgium on
Tour de France 2019: Stage 1
Profile: A nice, steady start that the riders would be advised to not get used to.
How to watch and start time
The action will be live on SuperSport 5 from 11:55 and should finish at around 17:00. If you don’t have a Dstv subscription, you can follow Le Tour’s YouTube channel for all the highlights.
It’s a flat and sprint-friendly stage. While Mark Cavendish certainly won’t be challenging for a win at this stage – because he’s not at the tour – other familiar faces might. We’re going with the tried and tested Peter Sagan to win this one. Experience will stand him in good stead and while some younger riders might still come to the fore later on at Le Tour, day one surely is one for the tried and tested.
Additional reporting by AFP.