You have questions about the 2020 Tour de France, and we have answers and educated opinions. Our veteran reporters, Andrew Hood and James Startt, are fielding your biggest inquiries each day in this Active Pass roundtable column. Today, we have inquiries about which second-tier contenders could win the overall, and whether or not Peter Sagan will win a stage.
OK, let’s get to your questions!
Does a team not named Jumbo-Visma or Ineos Grenadiers have a realistic shot at producing the winner of this year’s Tour?
Andrew Hood @eurohoody: Good question, because it’s obvious those two are the strongest squads in the race. I see two names: Nairo Quintana and Thibaut Pinot. The latter seems a little banged up from his fall in Nice, while Quintana looks the sharpest (and happiest) he’s been in years. Both are capable of climbing with the best, and both have the legs (on a good day) to drop everyone. Some wonder if Quintana’s best days are behind him, so this climb-heavy route could be his best and last chance to win. Pinot seems fragile sometimes, but if he can stay upright and confident, he could be the Tour’s joker. This weekend will reveal if anyone else besides the capos from those two powerhouse teams will have a realistic chance.
Editor: Andrew Hood gave his answer before Pinot was dropped on stage 8.
James Startt: Well, I guess that depends on how you define ‘realistic.’ Any other team is an outsider, but there are a lot of outsiders and a lot of opportunities for aggressive racing that makes this year’s race very unpredictable. But the riders have to take those opportunities. A lot could happen Saturday on the first stage in the Pyréneees. Thursday’s stage to Lavaur was much harder than expected. If attacks start early today it will be a very hard race to control. But, if Saturday’s stage is like that to Mont Aigoual, very controlled, then anybody hoping to upset the powerhouse teams is just playing into their hands. And if you wait until the last week, well, it’s game over.
Fred Dreier @freddreier: You bet. On paper, those two teams are so much stronger than everyone else. But this is the weird and wacky 2020 Tour de France, and that means anything is possible! Nairo Quintana, Miguel Ángel López, and let’s not forget about Romain Bardet and Julian Alaphilippe!
Will the Pyrenees tell us who will win the Tour de France overall?
Andy: It will certainly tell us who won’t be winning. With so many climbs stacked up in the final week, everyone is looking to stages 15 and 17 as the king-maker stages. Of this weekend’s stages, Saturday is more challenging than Sunday, but this Tour continues to be unpredictable. And two downhill finales could neutralize aggression on the final climbs. Riders who are not able to stay with the best here will see their GC chances take a massive, perhaps permanent, setback.
James: No, but more riders will lose the Tour in the Pyrenees. Saturday’s stage could be brutal as it is short and simply packed with climbs. The Col de Menté is where Luis Ocaña crashed out of the 1971 Tour with the yellow jersey on his shoulders. These are tricky, technical roads and descents also provide opportunities. The Port de Balès is a spectacular climb. In short, those wanting to attack, have ample opportunity. But today is the big day. Sunday’s stage to Laruns is, at least on paper, not as difficult. Although the final climb up the Marie Blanque, is particularly steep for the Tour de France.
Fred: No. Keep your eyes on stage 17 to the Col de la Loze. That’s the day when Bernal vs. Roglič will boil over.
How many stages will Peter Sagan win this year. Does he win green?
Andy: His best chance in this Tour was foiled when he dropped his chain coming into Lavaur in stage 7. Bora-Hansgrohe blew up the race to drop the pure sprinters, so that was a painful bit of bad luck. He clearly isn’t going to beat Ewan in a clean shot to the line, and now he has a dominant Van Aert crowding him out on stages that otherwise favor him. I see Sagan winning green, but perhaps not winning a stage.
James: Peter will find a way! Friday was perfect for him and he and his team rode brilliantly but a technical issue ruined any chance in the final. I say he still has a stage in him as well as the green jersey because, while Wout Van Aert may be stronger, he will not be going for any intermediated bonus sprints and Peter will clean up there, as he does every year.
Fred: Sagan wins the green jersey but he does so without winning a stage. He’s just not as competitive in the big sprints this year, but he still has the climbing sills and the know-how to gobble up the points.
If you have any thoughts on ways to do so, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.