Tour de France – Thibaut Pinot, Mathieu Van der Poel or Andreas Kron: the riders to follow this week

Tour de France – Thibaut Pinot, Mathieu Van der Poel or Andreas Kron: the riders to follow this week

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Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix)

It is one of the great discreet of this Grand Départ. If he did the clock thoroughly, it was not enough to offer him the yellow jersey. The Dutchman is however not far from it (5th at 20” from Van Aert) and this could well become an objective, as the profile of the stages corresponds to him every day, with the exception of the Super Planche des Belles Filles and, no doubt, of Châtel.

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You shouldn’t see him on the attack every day, but with him the norm is a vague notion that is often rewritten. On the cobblestones of the North, Wednesday, Van der Poel will even be the big favorite if Van Aert is reminded of his collective duties. His main rival could well then be the new French champion Florian Sénéchal, who wants to shine on these cobblestones that he loves.

Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) during the inaugural time trial of the Tour de France 2022

Credit: Getty Images

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ Group)

On Friday, he will be the most motivated man in the peloton. The cobblestone stage has not yet passed but the Franc-Comtois is exactly where he wanted to be before the start: on French territory without having fallen. Officially, Pinot is there to support Gaudu but seeing him lose a lot of time on the 5th stage to take full advantage of it on Friday to play for victory, at home, at the Super Planche des Belles Fillies, is something irresistible and obvious. . Almost too much. All of France dreams of it. Him too. Rest not to fall by then.

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Marc Hirschi (United Arab Emirates team)

Certainly, his training aims for the final coronation in Paris with Pogacar. But, given the course of the Swiss weekend, uninspiring for the leaders, UAE Team Emirates could let the Swiss try to win at home, which is not so common for a Swiss on the Tour. Whether in Lausanne, as a puncher, or in Châtel, a mid-mountain stage that he loves, Hirschi can win on both days. The legs, they are in any case there (12th in the Tour de Suisse before leaving the race because of the Covid) and his delay in the general classification very consequent (more than 5 minutes). More than enough to have freedom from other formations. From his? It is less certain.

Marc Hirschi (United Arab Emirates team)

Credit: Getty Images

Andreas Kron (Lotto Soudal)

Like Marc Hirschi, the Dane will have liked to shine at home but he worked for his sprinter Caleb Ewan, without success. The opportunities for sprinters will be much fewer this week and the chances for breakaways much stronger. A scenario that would suit the Dane perfectly, who dreams, as he told VéloFuté in their July magazine, of “win Liège-Bastogne-Liège and a stage of the Tour de France“. An ambition that confirms the puncher profile of the Lotto-Soudal rider, who could surprise at Longwy but who should especially be found at the front towards Lausanne and Châtel. Or even from Calais.

Andreas Kron (Lotto-Soudal) at the head of the peloton, during the 2nd stage of the Tour de France 2022

Credit: Getty Images

Matis Louvel (Arkéa-Samsic)

He’s one of the riders you’re pretty sure to see at some point. Even if it is unlikely that he will have the freedom to play the cobblestone stage, we should at least see him at the front of the peloton, to protect his leader Nairo Quintana. A specialist in cobblestones (top 20 in Ronde and Roubaix), the young Frenchman has a very complete profile, with a good burst of speed, as we noticed at Dauphiné. If the cobbles stage were to go like 2018, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him battle for victory. The Lausanne stage, too hard for a pure sprinter, can also suit him. Provided you have a little freedom.

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Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Materials)

In great shape on the Dauphiné (6th overall), the South African was unfortunately trapped on Sunday by the big fall which cut the peloton in two, conceding 39”. Now pushed back to 1’21” overall, even before the cobblestones where he could lose big, Meintjes is a very good candidate for the breakaway next Sunday, towards Châtel. His delay should, except surprise, be enough for the favorites to let him slip away but weak enough to, why not, dream of the yellow jersey. If Pogacar, for example, holds it after the Super Planche des Belles Filles, he will have every interest in leaving it to a safe climber for the final victory. And the South African could take advantage of it.

One crash and the peloton split in two

Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo)

The American is perhaps the youngest rider of this 109th edition but he is certainly not the least talented. Specialist in breakaways and mountain jerseys this season (he gleaned those from Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Suisse), the one who has barely celebrated his 21st birthday is already taking part in his second Grand Tour (Vuelta 2021). In a team without a leader, without a big sprinter either, there should be plenty of opportunities to slip into the breakaways and the polka dot jersey could quickly become a goal for the American again. Even if that of the Trek-Segafredo remains a stage victory.

Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) on Tirreno-Adriatico 2022

Credit: Getty Images

Andrea Bagioli (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl)

The Longwy and Lausanne stages seemed cut out for double world champion Julian Alaphilippe. He’s not on the Tour de France? Never mind, the Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl always has a spare card and, punch level, this one is called Andrea Bagioli. The young Italian has neither the track record nor the explosiveness of his tricolor teammate, but he is nonetheless a hell of a puncher, capable of (almost) competing with Roglic on bumpy arrivals from the Vuelta, at Suances in 2020 and at the Cullera in 2021. Enough to make him a candidate for victory at Longwy, especially if the general favorites keep some under the pedal, on the eve of the Super Planche des Belles Filles.

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