Richie Porte tipped to win Tour de France 2017

Cycling- Tour de France cycling race- The 183-km Stage 2 from Saint Lo to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin France- 03/07/2016- Tinkoff

Cycling- Tour de France cycling race- The 183-km Stage 2 from Saint Lo to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin France- 03/07/2016- Tinkoff

As the countdown to the opening time-trial stage of the 2017 Tour de France continues, the aura of invincibility that once enveloped Team Sky is fading.

Froome is race shy - prior to the Dauphine this season he had had just 19 days in the saddle competitively - but at Team Sky, where everything is tweaked to within an inch of its life, there is method to this potential madness.

Porte took fifth overall at the Tour de France in his first year with the team, but has had a stellar year so far in 2017, winning the Tour Down Under and Tour de Romandie overall as well as second place in the Critérium du Dauphiné in June after letting his lead slip to Jakob Fuglsang on the final day.

"They're not as dominant as other years, which potentially makes Froome easier to isolate", Roche said. Falter once, and your position could easily be overtaken by another rider. I think it's been healthy for me and it gives me a good balance.

"Today, our followers want to be immersed in the event", said Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France. The first mountain stage takes place July 9 on a 113-mile ride from Nantua to Chambery that features more than 25 miles of climbing.

Improving weather is expected early next week as the tour shifts southward through Luxembourg into northeast France. This year, Dimension Data's technical teams work together across four continents via hyperconnected mobile collaboration hubs equipped with the latest digital and virtual workplace technologies.

You have to go back to 2011 for the last time the Slovakian failed to finish top of the pile - but then he did not make his debut in the race until the following year. France have not had a victor of the Tour de France since Hinault in 1985, 32 years ago.

Froome, who has won the Tour three times, seems happy to let Porte be the pre-race favourite, and said as much the previous evening.

Known for his attacking instincts, Bardet has shown steady improvement at this race and demonstrated his class with a solo triumph on Mont Blanc a year ago.

But Cavendish, who missed three months this year through glandular fever caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, admits he may not be at peak fitness.

"Chris has won three Tours and there's no reason he can't win a fourth", Porte argued. "Whether I'm fit enough to win anything is a different thing", he told The Clare Balding Show on BT Sport.

- Only three riders have triumphed on the Champs Elysees final stage in the last eight years (Mark Cavendish x4, Marcel Kittel x2, Andre Greipel x2); in the previous nine editions no rider won it a couple of times.

The duo launched a decisive attack on a wet descent in the Tour a year ago that put Bardet up to second overall.

"I proved that a year ago". "For me the more climbs the better", he said.

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