Two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador believes Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates represent the best hopes for Great Britain at this year’s edition, but warned against ruling out Mark Cavendish in future editions.
Thomas and Yates are part of a three-prong attack for Ineos Grenadiers alongside Dani Martinez and the team are going to go into the race without naming an outright leader, preferring to wait to see how the race unfolds.
Eurosport expert Contador has been speaking ahead of the 2022 edition of the race, which starts on July 1, and was asked who he felt was the best British bet for the yellow jersey.
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''I would say Thomas or Adam Yates are the British riders with the best chance of success in the Tour,” Contador replied.
“They are both in the top 10 and have a good chance, but we know that a lot of things can happen.'”
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On Thomas’ win at the Tour de Suisse, Contador added: "After a win like that you get a lot of confidence that boosts your performance and motivates you to keep getting results. It's a very positive thing for Thomas, but it's not definitive.”
One of the other talking points from a British perspective is the absence of Cavendish.
The sprinter, who returned to form in style by winning the green jersey in 2021, was left out of the original squad for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, and was then snubbed again when Tim Declercq was ruled out with Covid-19 and the team elected to go for Florian Senechal as the Belgian’s replacement.
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When asked whether he thinks we’ll see Cavendish at the Tour again, Contador replied: “I don't know if we will see him again in the Tour, although I think he will make an effort to do it again at some point.
“In the end it's something he has to decide with his team.
As a follow up Contador was asked where he would rank Cavendish as a sprinter in cycling’s history.
“As a sprinter, if he is not the best in history, he would be tied with Mario Cipollini,” replied Contador.
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“Because after so many years and the professional career he has, I think he has more than enough merits to be at the top.”
What about Chris Froome, the four-time winner who is second only to Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain (all five) in the history of the race?
“Froome has plenty of experience and knows what it's like to dominate a race like the Tour de France,” says Contador.
“He is the first one who after all doesn't think about winning the general classification but about having moments of prominence like a stage he wants to aspire to.”
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