After the last two white jersey winners came from Britain – the same Bury-based family no less – the 2018 Tour de France will see a new rider top the youth classification.
Simon Yates was Best Young Rider 12 months ago, following his twin brother Adam’s success in 2016, but the Yates twins are now too old to win the white jersey.
And with no other former winners eligible either – a roll of honour that includes Nairo Quintana, Tejay van Garderen and Pierre Rolland on the 2018 Tour de France start list – it will be a new rider marking themselves as one to watch in future.
Team Sky’s Tour debutant Egan Arley Bernal will be the youngest rider in the race and is sure to be one to watch in support of Chris Froome, having already won the Tour of California this year.
But Bernal will face stiff competition if he is to bag the white jersey. Here’s a closer look at the contenders…
Egan Arley Bernal, aged 21 (Team Sky)
Egan Arley Bernal was already highly rated when Team Sky signed him to his first WorldTour contract in the winter.
And if his debut season is anything to go by, everybody is right to be excited about the 21-year-old Colombian’s talents.
The youngest rider at the 2018 Tour de France has already won the Colombia Oro y Paz and Amgen Tour of California this season, as well as being crowned best young rider at both the Tour Down Under and Tour de Romandie.
He has six wins to his name in all, and if he is to help Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas in the mountains he will have every chance of adding a Tour de France white jersey to his collection for the year. If not this year, then surely one in future at the very least.
Daniel Felipe Martinez, aged 22 (EF Education First-Drapac)
Another young Colombian set for his Tour de France debut, Daniel Felipe Martinez joined his compatriot Bernal on the Amgen Tour of California, finishing third overall.
He was also fifth at the Colombia Oro y Paz and seventh at the Volta a Catalunya this season and team CEO Jonathan Vaughters says he ranks him on a par with Bernal.
This is not his first Grand Tour either – he has ridden the Giro d’Italia twice with Wilier but his team have admitted he is at the Tour to do a job and gain experience rather than target the white jersey.
As a result, while he should not be counted out, this Tour might come too early for a serious tilt at the Best Young Rider title.
Tiesj Benoot, aged 24 (Lotto-Soudal)
Tiesj Benoot finished 20th overall on his Tour de France debut last season and fourth in the youth classification.
His results this season suggest he can improve on that, however, with an impressive spring including fourth place overall (and topping the youth classification) at this year's Tirreno-Adriatico.
A string of consistent Classics results highlighted his potential there – and he will definitely be one to watch on the cobbled stage nine.
But he can climb too – he was 14th overall at the Criterium du Dauphine last time out. If Bernal, Martinez and co. are hamstrung by their team commitments, Benoot has the talent to take advantage.
Marc Soler, aged 24 (Movistar)
What’s better than having three leaders on your Tour de France team? Why not chuck a fourth in too?
Movistar will be led by Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa at this year’s Tour de France and yet picking three leaders almost does a disservice to their ‘number four’ – Paris-Nice champion Marc Soler.
The 24-year-old, who was also third at the Ruta del Sol and fifth at the Volta a Catalunya, undoubtedly has the ability to mix it with the best – but he will evidently be held back by service to his team-mates.
Maintaining a good balance will be hard enough for Movistar with three men after GC ambitions, without throwing an (albeit very talented) fourth in there.
Pierre Latour, aged 24 (Ag2r-La Mondiale)
Pierre Latour heads to Le Tour on the back of a seventh place finish – and the best young rider crown – at the Criterium du Dauphine, and he continued his form at the national championships where he won the time trial and finished fourth in the road race.
Earlier this season, he was third overall in Catalunya (and Best Young Rider) and eighth at the Tour de Romandie.
He wore the white jersey early in last year’s Tour de France but eventually dropped back after committing himself to Romain Bardet.
He might be given more freedom this time out, however – or simply end up at the sharp end of races as he rides for Bardet in the mountains. His form is good, and he should definitely improve on last year’s sixth in the youth classification.
Guillaume Martin, aged 25 (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)
Guillaume Martin finished 23rd overall at last year’s Tour de France – his Grand Tour debut – and fifth in the youth classification.
This year, he won the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe and, most recently, finished 12th overall at the Criterium du Dauphine – third in the youth classification.
He will need to step up if he is to target the white jersey, however, before he becomes ineligible next season. Wanty-Groupe Gobert’s penchant for attacking and lack of GC ambitions though could play into his hands.
If he stays in contention through the first week, he might well be a rider worth watching for the white jersey as the race unfolds.