Free for all?
While Vincenzo Nibali may hold a commanding lead at the top of the general classification, just 105 seconds separate the rest of the top ten, from Richie Porte in second to Bauke Mollema (Belkin Pro Cycling) in tenth.
The hope, then, is that with the Tour’s two pre-race favourites, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador, out and Nibali, the rider expected by many before the race rolled out of Leeds to complete the top three, the last man standing, the battle for a spot on the podium will ignite the race as it enters first the Alps and later the Pyrenees.
Porte, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing), Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r La Mondiale), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and Bauke Mollema (Belkin Pro Cycling) will all have eyes on the podium (or more), as will the rider in 11th, Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol).
The 2014 Tour de France has been characterised by bold moves and the constant reshuffling of the top ten could disrupt Nibali’s Astana team, though with a full squad still at his disposal, that fight is more likely to shape the final two spots on the podium.