• Richie Porte has described his Tour de Suisse victory as the biggest win of his career. (AAP)Source: AAP
Several Tour de France warm-up races finished on the weekend and the form of the major contenders started taking shape.
By
Cycling Central

18 Jun 2018 - 11:07 AM  UPDATED 19 Jun 2018 - 9:42 AM

Richie Porte - Tour de Suisse

Pros: 

  • BMC's TTT put 20 seconds into Team Sunweb over 18kms, 33 seconds into Movistar, and just over a minute into Sky
  • Let it rip stage six on the final climb, leaving behind Quintana and other rivals and extended his lead
  • Contained Nairo Quintana's attack on stage seven to an advantage of 22 seconds
  • Finished 55 seconds ahead of Quintana and two minutes and 29 seconds ahead of Quintana's Movistar teammate Mikel Landa in the ITT

Cons

  • Despite containment, lead over Quintana was still cut from 45 to 17 seconds before the ITT
  • ITT not as strong as Astana's Jakob Fuglsang (26 seconds in arrears) and may not be the best performance against the clock you want to see at the end of a stage race given the Tour's 31km ITT before the procession to Paris, but maybe it didn't have to be - the Dane was down one minute and 28 seconds before the ITT
  • Porte himself said he wanted an individual stage win but may be slightly clutching at straws for a con here

Tour de Suisse "biggest victory" of Porte's career
Richie Porte put his Tour de France rivals on notice after emphatically securing the 2018 Tour de Suisse, the "biggest victory" of his career.
Porte extends Suisse lead with late attack
Richie Porte left big name GC rivals for dead on the final climb of the Tour de Suisse queen stage. Sunweb's Soren Kragh Andersen won stage honours, while Aussie Nathan Haas finished second.

Nairo Quintana - Tour de Suisse

Pros: 

  • Attacked on and won stage seven reducing Porte's lead to just 17 seconds before the final stage ITT

Cons

  • Lost another 55 seconds to Porte in the final stage ITT. He also lost his second step on the final podium to Fuglsang. Any good work he does up high in the mountains is yet again undone by his time trialling

Mikel Landa - Tour de Suisse

Pros: 

  • Attacked on the final climb on stage five, caught just 200m from the line

Cons:

  • Finishing the race four minutes behind Porte and just under three minutes behind Quintana is not an ideal position for a GC hopeful before a 7th July Tour de France start. Or was he just playing it perfectly for his team?

Alejandro Valverde - Route d'Occitanie 

Pros:

Sure, not a huge set of Tour contenders here at this four-stage race, but Valverde still put time into the likes of Daniel Navarro (who just finished ninth at the Dauphine) and Sky's Kenny Elissonde fresh from a major role in Froome's Giro victory, plus Sebastien Reichenbach (Groupama FDJ) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana). In that light, the evergreen Spaniard's stage win and overall victory doesn't look too shabby, despite him already downplaying a possible co-leader Tour role and upscaling his servitude. 

Cons:

None really. If he's good, he is very very good - probably still not going to beat an in-form Froome or Porte - and if he is bad, he'll still perform excellently for his team. 

Jakob Fugslang - Tour de Suisse

Pros:

  • Performed strongly throughout the week, there and thereabouts bar the attacks from Porte and Quintana
  • Rode 26 seconds faster than Porte in the final stage 34km ITT and improved his position on GC to second overall pushing Quintana back to third

Cons:

  • Lost time to Quintana and Porte via their attacks on stages six and seven
  • Team lost over a minute in the TTT

Primoz Roglic - Tour of Slovenia  

Pros

  • Rocked his home nation's five-stage race with overall victory, defeating 2017 Tour runner-up Rigoberto Uran by a total of one minute and 50 seconds
  • Claimed the lead with victory on stage four after a long range attack on the final climb, 20 kilometres from the finish, putting 33 seconds into nearest rivals Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida), Rafal Majka (Bora-hansgrohe) and Uran
  • Victory on the final stage 21.5 kilometre ITT saw him increase his lead over Uran by another minute and 17 seconds.  

Cons

  • Has also won Tour de Romandie and Tour of the Basque country this year but is still unproven as a leader in grand tours. Has completed two (Giro in 2016, Tour de France in 2017). 
  • Who is the LottoNL-Jumbo leader at the Tour, he or Steven Kruijswijk and could this diffuse focus (the Dutchman finished eighth at the Tour de Suisse, one minute and 59 seconds behind Porte)

 

Rigoberto Uran - Tour of Slovenia  

Pros

  • Finished second overall 
  • Took the race lead after winning stage three where he beat eventual race victor Roglic by 10 seconds

Cons

  • Lost 33 seconds to Uran on stage four, and another one minute and 17 seconds to Roglic in the ITT

Battle for the Green Jersey

With some of the sprint battles we've seen this year, we suspected we'd be in for a hot Tour green jersey stoush. It's looking more likely after this weekend.

Taking the Tour de Suisse sprint competition from Michael Matthews and a key win over fast man Fernando Gaviria, Peter Sagan is undoubtedly the green jersey favourite.

Gaviria's three second-places behind Sagan, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) and Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) aren't to be sneezed at but it's still slightly unexpected after a lot of what he touched turned to sprint gold this season. The Colombian also didn't take to the final stage ITT. While he won the equivalent jersey at last year's Giro, the relative youngster has still not finished a Tour and it's a different beast altogether.

Matthews showed in his final ITT he won't go down without a fight forcing a countback to decide the sprint competition between he and Sagan. And as Bling proved last year at the Tour, the green jersey is about consistency and being there at the finish in Paris.

Then you've got Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) to throw in the mix. Demare won stage eight of the Tour de Suisse just for good measure.

There was only really the one sprint opportunity for Groenewegen at the Tour of Slovenia which he won with his quick turn of speed, Ewan finishing third behind the Dutchman and Matteo Pelucchi (Bora-hansgrohe).

We can't wait to watch the Tour de France with you from 7 - 29 July, streaming live here or on SBS or SBS Viceland (times and channels TBA).

Rivera rules OVO Energy Women’s Tour
Team Sunweb's Coryn Rivera finished safely in the bunch to take overall victory at the 2018 OVO Energy Women's Tour. Lotta Lepistö won the stage, her team Cervelo-Bigla's first WorldTour victory this season.
Quintana strikes back at Tour de Suisse
Nairo Quintana showed he's still one of the riders to watch at the Tour de France after he soloed to victory on Stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse, cutting into the overall lead of Richie Porte.
Zwift SBS Cycling Podcast - Porte and the other favourites prepare for the Tour de France

In this week's Zwift SBS Cycling podcast cycling journalists Jamie Finch-Penninger, Anthony Tan and Rob Arnold of RIDE Media join in the podcast studio for a passionate discussion about the key lead-up races for the Tour de France, as well as the local cycling scene.