When he rode to victory at the 2012 Tour de France, former track cycling specialist Bradley Wiggins made history by becoming the first-ever British winner. It was the culmination of a decade in which he reached the peak of professional road racing, having also finished third in 2009, and second at the Vuelta a España.
Elsewhere, there were major stage race wins for Wiggins at the Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie, and back-to-back victories at the Critétium du Dauphiné. All the hard work and effort had finally brought the rewards he deserved, not to mention ushering in a golden age for British cyclists at the trio of Grand Tour events.
After finishing second behind Wiggins at the Tour de France in 2012, between 2013 and 2017, Chris Froome went on to win ‘La Grande Boucle’ four out of five years. Froome became the dominant force in British cycling on Team Sky, also winning the Vuelta a España twice, and eventually in 2018, the Giro d’Italia.
Geraint Thomas earned his magnificent Tour de France win in 2018, although he wasn’t quite able to defend his title in 2019, beaten into second position by Ineos Grenadiers teammate Egan Bernal. In 2020, Adam Yates was the only Briton to make it inside the top ten of the General Classification, albeit ninth and well behind eventual winner Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia.
Looking ahead to the 2021 Tour de France, although the final team selections could yet change ahead of the June 30th start in Brest, three British riders are considered to be amongst the ten favorites. This will certainly make for some careful consideration when it comes to the betting odds, especially considering the form and preparations of leading contenders this year.
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Looking at the best British chances of success at the 2021 Tour de France, 2018 winner Thomas will arguably be the main hope for Ineos Grenadiers. The 35-year-old has also shown strong form early in the season, finishing third at the Volta a Catalunya in March, then celebrating success at the Tour de Romandie in May.
Following what was considered a surprise Giro d’Italia victory in 2020, Ineos Grenadiers will also have high hopes for Tao Geoghegan Hart. The 26-year-old from London may find matching that success at the Tour de France difficult, although he should certainly be amongst the riders aiming to finish within the top five of the General Classification.
28-year-old Yates did well at the 2021 Giro d’Italia recently, winning Stage 19 and finishing third in the General Classification with Team BikeExchange, so he could fancy his chances at the Tour. Finally, after his lengthy rehabilitation, 36-year-old Froome probably won’t be challenging to win the Tour, although it’s great to see him back in the saddle and competing again.
With so many riders hoping to achieve success on this tour, it’ll certainly be exciting to see who comes out on top.