The Tour de France is the ultimate world cycling event and the 2019 renewal promises to be something special, with Geraint Thomas returning to defend his yellow jersey after a surprise victory in 2018.

The Welshman was initially thought to be playing second fiddle to champion Chris Froome within the Team Sky ranks, although Thomas stole a march halfway through the General Classification and ultimately proved to be the stronger rider which means he’s bidding for another victory.

Froome deliberately swerved the 2019 Giro d’Italia in advance of the Tour de France although his hopes of landing a fifth Tour de France were dealt a blow after a training accident and it means that the Brit won’t be lining up when the event takes place.

Egan Bernal Now a Main Contender

With the news that Tom Dumoulin is also absent from proceedings due to a knee injury, the outright betting market has been drastically altered in recent weeks. While Geraint Thomas is now trading as the favourite to win consecutive yellow jerseys, there has been plenty of support for Egan Bernal.

Bernal is another ride for Team Ineos and is regarded to be a first-string rider alongside Thomas which makes him a lively threat. Bernal was very impressive during the 2018 Tour despite the fact that he was made to work hard to ensure that Thomas and Froome were given good lead-ins during the mountain stage.

The 22-year-old looks like a massive threat and it could be that Bernal now gets the opportunity to emerge, with the Colombian taking advantage of the hole left by Froome’s absence.

Thomas Likely to Go For Win Again

It is clear that Geraint Thomas was not under team orders to allow Chris Froome to be top dog in the Team Sky ranks last year and will now be the primary ride for Team Ineos, with Bernal thought to be his main contender within the team.

Thomas was able to establish a lead during the 2018 Tour de France and, when it came to the crucial stages, the Welshman provided more stamina going up the mountains than Froome could provide.

We’re expecting more of the same from the 32-year-old who will be riding for the newly-named Team Ineos.

Jakob Fuglsang Also Among Favourites

There were worrying scenes in the Giro d’Italia as Tom Dumoulin was forced to retire from the event after crashing on stage four. Despite the Belgian’s best efforts to continue for Team Sunweb, the pain in his knee was too great and the 28-year-old has now been officially sidelined from the 2019 Tour de France.

With Froome also absent, many betting customers have latched on to Jakob Fuglsang, a rider who is regarded as one of the favourites by many cycling experts. The Astana rider has enjoyed victories at Liège–Bastogne–Liège, the Vuelta a Andalucía and the Critérium du Dauphiné, so he arrives for the Tour with strong credentials.

The big question mark is whether the Swiss can compete hard over a three-week period although he finished in a creditable twelfth place last year and will be looking for a top three finish as a minimum this time around.

Tour De France 2019 Starts on 6 July

We have 21 stages in total and, as usual, all will come down to those brutal mountain stages. There are five high mountain stages in total, with the first taking place on 18 July when the riders will go from Toulouse to Bagneres-de-Bigorre.

The action is particularly relentless in the final few days, with three consecutive mountain stages occurring between 25-27 July. The climb from Albertville to Val Thorens could be the defining moment on the penultimate day and it would be exciting if we saw a new winner crowned in the form of Egan Bernal.

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