French cyclist David Moncoutié retired from racing in 2012. The former climbing specialist did the Tour de France for over a decade, winning two stages, but never the ultimate prize. Perhaps because he faced the hardest challenge of all before he even took to his saddle; by refusing performance-enhancing drugs.
He knows as well as anyone in the business who could be winning the sure-to-be-special 100th race. Moncoutié gave euronews his thoughts about the riders and the course.
euronews: “You’ve just retired after a 16-year professional cycling career which saw you notably take Tour de France stage wins and the climbing jersey four times. But more notable perhaps is you did it clean, and insisted on it throughout your career. You finished 10 Tours de France. Who are the favourites for the 100th yellow jersey?
Moncoutié: “I think the number one favourite is Chris Froome. He’s been showing his strength this year, and his Sky team is very strong. He’s won the Dauphiné , and last year he could have won the Tour so I think he is the favourite. But there is also Alberto Contador, he’s the ideal stage racer and built for the long haul. As for the outsiders, there’s Cadel Evans, Valverde, or Rodriguez… but I think Froome and Contador will be the strongest:”
euronews: “Do you think it’s a different race without Bradley Wiggins?”
Moncoutié: “Not much, I don’t think so because Team Sky are so strong and the leader is very solid. I think Froome and Sky are the strongest even without Wiggins.”
euronews: “With so many mountains this year where’s the key moment in the race?”
Moncoutié: “There are more mountains than last year, and time trials will count for less. But I think it will all come down to the last three days. They will be the test; three stages with the Alps d’Huez twice, then the Grand Bornand and Semnoz. We won’t know the winner before then.”
The organisers are doing everything to ensure the Tour legend is burnished for the 100th outing, with the race visiting Corsica for the first time, indeed starting there, with the teams and their champions sizing each other up for the first time.