Tour de France: Who are the yellow jersey favorites?


A glance at Tour de France yellow jersey favorites with predictions from NBC Sports analysts going into the three-week stage race …

Egan Bernal
2019 Tour de France champion
Team: Ineos Grenadiers
Nationality: Colombia

Last year, Bernal ascended mid-Tour to become Ineos’ leader and, at 22, the youngest Tour de France champion in more than 100 years. Ineos’ hopes for an eighth Tour title in nine years largely rest with the Colombian after it left past Tour champions Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas off this year’s roster. Bernal’s most accomplished teammate is Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz, who won the 2019 Giro d’Italia.

Bernal is NBC Sports analyst Bob Roll‘s pick to win the Tour, though he withdrew after three stages of the Criterium du Dauphine with a sore back earlier this month.

“I just think that Ineos is so clever with their preparations for this one race,” Roll said. “He’s got a very capable team, no matter who they take to the Tour de France. I think we did not see the real Egan in the last couple of races.”

Primoz Roglic
2019 Vuelta a Espana champion
Team: Jumbo-Visma
Nationality: Slovenia

The 2007 World junior team ski jumping champion blossomed into a Grand Tour general classification contender the last two seasons. Roglic, who suffered this scary crash before leaving ski jumping, leads the Tour’s other top-tier team, Jumbo-Visma. Many believe that a combination of Ineos’ shuffling (notably the absences of the aging Froome and Thomas) and Jumbo-Visma’s depth could call for a changing of the guard in the peloton.

The 30-year-old is NBC Sports analyst Christian Vande Velde‘s pick to win the Tour. Roglic, a fourth-place finisher in his last Tour start in 2018, has accomplished help in Tom Dumoulin (2018 Tour runner-up) and a promising climber in American 25-year-old Sepp Kuss. Unfortunately, Roglic will not have 2019 Tour third-place finisher Steven Kruijswijk, who dislocated and fractured his shoulder in the Criterium du Dauphine.

“Even though [Roglic] crashed out of the Dauphine [withdrawing as a precaution while leading] … I still think he’s the strongest guy going right now, and that’s all we have to go off of,” Vande Velde said. “We don’t have much.”

MORE: Tour de France TV, live stream schedule

Nairo Quintana
2013, 2015 Tour de France runner-up
Team: Arkea-Samsic
Nationality: Colombia

Quintana hopes to be rejuvenated with a new team after being part of Movistar’s three-headed Tour leadership with Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde that produced a best finish of sixth between 2018 and 2019. Quintana, a 30-year-old who was once Froome’s chief rival, also did not finish the Criterium du Dauphine (knee pain). Already with Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana titles, the Colombian can become the eighth cyclist to win all three Grand Tours.

Thibaut Pinot
2014 Tour de France third-place finisher
Team: Groupama-FDJ
Nationality: France

Considered the best chance for a Frenchman to win the Tour for the first time since Bernard Hinault‘s last of five titles in 1985. Before this 34-year drought, the longest span between French wins in Tour history dating to 1903 was seven races. Pinot, 30, failed to finish his last three Tour starts. In 2019, he tearfully abandoned during stage 19 with a leg injury while in fifth place in the overall standings. If Pinot struggles this year, the French will pin hopes on Julian Alaphilippe, who surprisingly wore the yellow jersey for 14 days last year before ultimately finishing fifth. And Romain Bardet, who was second in 2016 and third in 2017.

Tadej Pogacar
2019 Vuelta a Espana third-place finisher
Team: UAE Team Emirates
Nationality: Slovenia

Last year, at 20, he became the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974. This year, he can become the first rider to win his Tour de France debut since Frenchman Laurent Fignon in 1983. Pogacar, fourth in the Dauphine, was initially expected to support veteran Fabio Aru in the Tour but is now slated to be a team leader.

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Ukraine officials say athletes should not compete in Olympic qualifiers with Russians

Ukraine Russia Fencing

The Ukraine government decided that its athletes should not compete in 2024 Olympic qualifying events if Russians are present, according to several media reports in Ukraine.

“At a meeting of the government, a protocol decision was made on the proposal of colleague (sports minister Vadym) Guttsait that we take part in qualifying competitions only where there are no Russians,” government minister Oleh Nemchinov said Thursday, according to a Reuters translation of a Ukraine public broadcaster report. “Accordingly, participation outside these criteria may be grounds for depriving federations of their national status.”

A decision has not been published on the Ukraine government website.

Guttsait is also the president of Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee. A message was sent to the committee late Thursday seeking comment.

On Tuesday, the IOC updated its recommendations for the possible participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competition. Previously, the IOC recommended no Russians or Belarusians be allowed to compete.

Tuesday’s update called for strict measures should international sports federations decide to readmit Russians and Belarusians who do not actively support the war as neutral athletes in individual events.

“I want to tell our fellow athletes who are worried that due to the IOC measures and the admission of Russians or Belarusians to competitions, and accordingly Ukrainians will not be able to participate, that their careers will be broken,” Nemchinov said, according to the Reuters translation of the public broadcaster report. “But your life and that of your children will remain.”

The International Fencing Federation (FIE) decided earlier in March that it planned to readmit Russians and Belarusians starting in the second half of April, which is also when the 2024 Olympic qualifying period begins in that sport.

Most other international federations for Olympic sports are so far still barring Russians and Belarusians. Some have said they are considering the IOC’s updated recommendations as they monitor their positions.

After Nemchinov’s reported comments, the Ukraine fencing federation press secretary said late Thursday that its fencers will not compete against Russians.

“Ukrainian fencers will not only refuse to compete against Russian and Belarusian athletes but will not participate in events of any level where Russian or Belarusian athletes will be competing,” the press secretary said in an email.

Ukraine won at least one fencing medal at each of the last five Olympics.

“We are all professionals, and if I will fence, which can be or cannot, I think I will be professional,” Ukrainian fencer Olga Kharlan, a four-time Olympic medalist and a four-time individual world champion, said Wednesday regarding a possible boycott. “As a Ukrainian citizen, it’s tough to even imagine how to stand next to [Russians], to know that they’re supporting or they’re in silence and we haven’t heard any word from them or we know that they represent army that’s shelling Ukraine every day.”

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Wimbledon reverses ban on Russia, Belarus tennis players

Wimbledon Russia

Russian and Belarusian players will be able to compete at Wimbledon as neutral athletes after the All England Club on Friday reversed its ban from last year.

The players must sign declarations of neutrality and comply with “appropriate conditions,” including not expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted,” All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.

The players cannot receive funding from the Russian or Belarusian states, including sponsorship from companies operated or controlled by the states.

Those impacted include Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Russian players Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev.

Other tennis tournaments have allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutral athletes.

“We also consider alignment between the Grand Slams to be increasingly important in the current tennis environment,” the club said.

The same conditions will apply for Lawn Tennis Association tournaments used by players as grass-court warmups for the sport’s oldest Grand Slam tournament.

The women’s and men’s professional tennis tours last year imposed heavy fines on the LTA and threatened to pull its tournaments. The ATP and WTA had also responded to last year’s ban by not awarding ranking points for Wimbledon — an unprecedented move against the prestigious event.

“There was a strong and very disappointing reaction from some governing bodies in tennis to the position taken by the All England Club and the LTA last year with consequences which, if continued, would be damaging to the interests of players, fans, The Championships and British tennis,” the club said.

This year’s Wimbledon tournament will start on July 3. The women’s final is scheduled for July 15 and the men’s final on July 16.

The All England Club said the conditions were developed through talks with the British government, the LTA and “international stakeholder bodies in tennis.”

The club’s statement described “personal player declarations” but didn’t provide details. The LTA said the players and support staff “will be required to sign neutrality declarations” similar to those used in other sports.

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