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Image credit: ZW Photography

The 2018 Tour De France begins this Saturday and will run until 29 July.

The 176 riders will travel more than 3,300 kms around France starting in the region of Pays de la Loire and finish up in Paris for the traditional stage around the Champs-Élysées.

There will be:

  • 8 flat stages
  • 5 hilly stages
  • 6 mountain stages and 3 altitude finishes (La Rosière, Alpe d’Huez, Saint-Lary-Soulan col du Portet)
  • 1 individual time-trial
  • 1 team time-trial
  • 2 rest days

The race will also see a return for more than 20kms of the cobbles on the ninth stage of this year’s tour. The race will also be almost 100 per cent French with a small section of the race heading to Spain for less than 20kms on stage 16.

West Australians in the race

This year Luke Durbridge will fly the flag for WA. Durbridge is set to line up at the Tour for the fifth time. Although he will no doubt play a role in supporting the likes of Adam Yates, he will have his opportunities to shine during the team time trial (stage 3) and the individual time trial (stage 20). Durbridge crashed out of last year’s Tour.

Australians at the 2018 Tour de France

Richie Porte(BMC Racing Team)
Simon Gerrans(BMC Racing Team)
Mark Renshaw(Team Dimension Data)
Simon Clark(Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale)
Heinrich Haussler(Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team)
Michael Matthews(Team Sunweb)
Luke Durbridge(Mitchelton-Scott )
Mathew Hayman(Mitchelton-Scott )
Michael Hepburn(Mitchelton-Scott )
Damien Howson(Mitchelton-Scott )
Rory Sutherland(UAE Team Emirates)

There will be 11 Australians who are set to line up at the Tour this year.

Richie Porte is our best hope for the overall win, having had his best finish in 2016 when he came fifth. He has started every tour since 2011 and is expected to be one of the contenders. Porte will take plenty of confidence from his win at the Tour de Suisse this year. Can he be the only Australian to win the Tour after Cadel Evans won in 2011?

Michael Matthews will be a contender for the coveted Points Classification (Green Jersey) after taking the title in 2017. He will have to get through Peter Sagan who has dominated this competition from 2012-2016. The record number is six by Eric Zebel (1996-2001) Matthews has won three stages of the Tour, one in 2016 and two last year.

Expect most of the Mitchelton-Scott riders to play domestique roles to the likes of Yates as well as look for opportunities for stage wins.

For the overall win?

Team Sky’s Chris Froome is going for four straight grand tours in a row and his second for the year after taking the Giro d’Italia earlier this year. Froome is the favourite with the bookmakers but will face stiff competition from Porte as well as Movistar tri Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde. Last year’s second and third place-getters Rigoberto Uran (Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) will also be up there as well as 2014 winner Vincenzo Nibali who rides for Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team.  2017 Giro winner Tom Dumoulin will also be towing the line.

Past 10 General Classification winners

2008Carlos SastreSpainCSC
2009Alberto Contador (2)SpainAstana
2010Andy SchleckLuxembourgTeam CSC
2011Cadel EvansAustraliaBMC Racing Team
2012Bradley WigginsUnited KingdomTeam Sky
2013Chris FroomeUnited KingdomTeam Sky
2014Vincenzo NibaliItalyAstana
2015Chris Froome (2)United KingdomTeam Sky
2016Chris Froome (3)United KingdomTeam Sky
2017Chris Froome (4)United KingdomTeam Sky

Photo: Mitchelton-Scott