Furthermore, his team is full of killers, many of whom could be leaders on other teams. Sergio Henao (drug concerns aside) is an underappreciated climber, Geraint Thomas almost made the podium last year, Mikel Landa got third at the 2015 Giro d’Italia, and I have never seen Vasil Kiryienka crack. Hell, they left two riders home who would be the leaders on a few of this year’s teams, as well as Michal Kwiatkowsi, a 25-year-old former world champion. Team Sky is going to have every chance to choke the life out of the race by being too big, too fast, and too strong for anyone to beat.


As for the his challengers, last year’s second place finisher Nairo Quintana is still the next most-likely to win the Tour. He’s a teeny tiny Colombian who might actually be a better climber than Froome. After scuffling in the early stages of last year’s Tour, he ended up taking two minutes off Froome over the last three stages, and he beat him at the Tour of Romandie this year. Quintana’s Movistar team isn’t as strong as Sky, and they’ve had serious problems staying organized and deciding who to work for in the past. The course suits him, as Froome is one of the best flatland time trialists in the world, and there’s only 50 kilometers against the clock in this year’s Tour and half of them are uphill.

If he wins, he’ll be the third non-European ever to win the Tour. Quintana’s backstory hews so closely to the saccharine underdog sports hero origin that it seems apocryphal: he grew up on a small farm 10,000 feet above sea level and had to start driving taxis at age 10 to pay for school fees. At his first Tour de France, in 2013, he came out of nowhere to finish second and win the queen stage on Colombia’s independence day.


Quintana isn’t the unknown, mysterious South American he was cast as last year. He’s 26 now, and he’s finished four Grand Tours as the team leader. Quintana isn’t sneaking up on anyone anymore, and the pressure for him to deliver Colombia the Tour de France title they’ve been craving for thirty years is only going to get worse.


Aging Spaniard Alberto Contador is the most accomplished rider in this year’s race, and for all he’s accomplished, he’s still only 33. Contador finished fifth at the Dauphine, but he’s been on fire this year, finishing no lower than third in any stage race he’s completed and winning the Tour of the Basque Country (the hardest week-long stage race). His form is a mystery, but nobody can match Contador’s tactical acumen and violent attacking ability. Dude raced the Giro d’Italia before the Tour last year and still finished fifth, and he’s built his entire 2016 season around going for the Tour. Contador isn’t like his calm, actuarial rivals. He is as exciting as any overall contender on the bike, and he shouldn’t be underestimated, especially since Sky and Movistar will probably spend most of the race staring each other down.

Those three are the most likely winners, and none of the second-tier contenders appear to have the firepower to bring down Quintana, Froome, and Contador. Italian duo Fabio Aru and Vincenzo Nibali of Astana are intriguing, but Nibali just got done winning an exhausting Giro, and Aru was uneven at the Dauphine, winning a stage but finishing 40 minutes behind Froome. Aru has shown the talent to win Grand Tours and he has consistently improved over the last week of three-week races (which Astana, uh, mysteriously always manage to do). If he and Nibali can find a way to work together, Aru could win. Astana are too much of a black box to get a good read on before big races (not to mention, a pharmacological uncertainty). Also, he looks like a Muppet.


BMC are in the same boat, as both Richie Porte and Tejay Van Garderen are capable of top-five finishes. Porte’s never earned a chance to take a crack at the Tour, and he’s been busy ferrying Froome up the mountains for a few years. Van Garderen is talented and he lost his podium spot in brutal fashion last year, but both he and Porte are team-leading caliber riders, and either they have to decide who to work for early, or BMC is going to have problems.


The next most-likely winners are Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet, and as much as French cycling has improved over the past five years, laughing at French futility is one of July’s best traditions. Bardet and Pinot are legit, but also, they got dusted in such comical fashion by Steve Cummings last year.

Are There Any Dope Americans?

Sort of? Van Garderen will probably be the top finisher, but he has a history of weenie-ing out at the Tour (he is on better form this year). The route isn’t particularly suited for him this time around. There are only five Americans in the race, and most of them are supporting riders. However, Alex Howes wears cool sunglasses and he is a good Twitter user, so yeah, I guess he qualifies.


Riders from the European powerhouses make up most of the field, as you’d expect, but there are two Eritreans, two Argentineans, a Japanese rider, and an Ethiopian participating in this year’s race. Last year, Daniel Teklehaimanot wore the King of the Mountains jersey for a few days and Steve Cummings won the first stage ever for an African-registered team.

Is The Pageantry Dank?

Yeah, the leaders all get to wear cool jerseys, like yellow for the race leader, white for best baby rider, and polka dot for best climber. Also, the fans are mostly frenzied Europeans who spend full days drinking on top of mountain passes so that they can properly yell at and flash riders as they come through for half a second.

Pageantry’s dank.

What About Motorized Doping, The Only Deadspin Cycling Blog You Scammed Me Into Clicking On? All These Guys Cheat Right?

For the first time, cycling’s biggest race is taking steps to curb cycling’s dumbest boogeyman. There appears to be some level of motorized cheating happening, although it’s unclear how many (if any!) professionals are using them or how many of them would be dumb enough to try that shit at the Tour. If someone gets caught on the world’s biggest stage, the entire sport will lose it en masse, and it will go down as my favorite utterly moronic cycling cheating method since cyclists in the 20's used strychnine, cocaine, and chloroform.


That said, the stakes are never higher and a motor would help! I think the microscope that the Tour puts on its riders is still too fine for anyone to risk it, but read one particular way, the history of cycling is the history of different drugs being used to stretch the body’s natural limits. The advantages of doping are so plainly obvious that someone will always try it, even if they risk getting caught by secret thermal cameras from a French nuclear facility.


Who Are Some Guys To Know?

Peter Sagan, the groovy, swaggering world champion and winner of the past (approximately) 23 green jerseys for best sprinter. Sagan didn’t win a stage at last year’s Tour, but he was one of the most impressive riders, getting second five times over five very different stages. He’s been on one this year and he’ll be gunning for his first ever yellow jersey on Stage 1. Sagan can win on any terrain, and his teammate Contador has plenty of helpers so that Sagan can go freelance.


John Degenkolb and Alexander Kristoff are two lesser Sagans who can win all kinds of sprints. Legendary Swissman Fabian Cancellara is going to ride his last Tour ever, and he’ll at least try something, even if he doesn’t have a great shot at extending his record for days in yellow without winning the overall.

Jarlinson Pantano, Warren Barguil, Julian Alaphilipe, and Louis Meintjes are all young and intriguing climbers or various regards. One of them will have a breakout race. Also, Thomas Voeckler will almost certainly huff and puff his way into a break and the peloton will let him cook out in front of them to punish him for hot dogging.


How Can I Watch The Race?

NBCSN will broadcast each stage, and if you don’t have the channel, you can buy a streaming package for the duration of the Tour for $30.


(Also, uh, Steephill.tv is a good website)

Should I Watch The Race?

Who knows! This blog is over.