x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Tour contenders

The National looks at the men with the best chance of triumphing in this year's Tour de France.

The National looks at the men with the best chance of triumphing in this year's Tour de France.

STRENGTHS: Arguably the top stage-race rider. One of only five men to have won the Giro (2008), the Vuelta (2008) and the Tour (2007), Contador is a natural climber and has improved in time trials. WEAKNESSES: Perhaps his team. Armstrong may try his luck even though Contador has been named Astana team leader. Can be get nervous.

STRENGTHS: Experience. With seven Tour titles to his name, Armstrong knows how to win. He has an iron will that helped him to triumph on the French roads from 1999 to 2005. WEAKNESSES: After three and a half years in retirement, he has not yet shown his brilliance. He has looked his age at 37 and crashed three times this year. He had a collarbone fracture.

STRENGTHS: The Australian, runner-up in the last two Tours has proved that he has impressive time-trial abilities late in the season. He is a great all-rounder. WEAKNESSES: Not a great attacker, Evans is too much on the defensive side. Sometimes he lacks self confidence. There is uncertainty about how he will fare in the mountains.

STRENGTHS: A natural climber, probably the only one able to make Contador suffer in the mountain stages with repeated attacks. Will benefit from the help of his brother Frank, who has an outside chance of making it to the podium. WEAKNESSES: Has yet to show he can limit the damage in the time trials that are key to winning a three-week race.

STRENGTHS: The defending champion is on a high after a promising Giro campaign with two mountain stage wins. The Spaniard may, just like last year, benefit from his underdog tag. WEAKNESSES: Has left Saxo Bank - where he was backed by the Schleck brothers - for Cervelo. Unlikely to get such support from new teammates.