• Egan Bernal won the young best rider at the recent Tour de Suisse (Getty) (Velo)Source: Velo
The battle for the white jersey has unearthed some incredible talent over the last four decades, and this year there is a clear favourite, writes Jane Aubrey.
By
Jane Aubrey

2 Jul 2019 - 9:46 AM  UPDATED 2 Jul 2019 - 10:26 AM

To be eligible for the white jersey for the best young rider in 2019, you need to born after 1 January 1994. Last year’s winner, Pierre Latour, while still 25, is not eligible, given his 12 October 1993 birth date. Interestingly, Latour’s win last year (13th overall) was the first time that the white jersey had finished outside the General Classification’s top 10 since 2008 when Andy Schleck finished 12th overall.

Since 1975, the youngest riders in the Tour de France peloton have had a classification fight for the white jersey. Previous winners have included Australia’s Phil Anderson (1982), Laurent Fignon (1983), Greg LeMond (1984), Marco Pantani (1994, 95), Jan Ullrich (1996 – 98), Alberto Contador (2007) and Andy Schleck (2008 – 10). More recently, three of the contenders for this year’s GC have taken honours: Nairo Quintana (2013, 15), Thibaut Pinot (2014) and Adam Yates (2016).

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Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos

Age: 22

Grand Tour appearances: 1 – Tour de France 2018

2019 wins: Paris-Nice; Tour de Suisse

The second-youngest man in the race behind Jasper Philipsen, Bernal is a name you’ll be hearing a lot of throughout July this year and in the years to come. The Colombian, the 2017 winner of that other benchmark for future stars, the Tour de l’Avenir, will share leadership with Geraint Thomas for Team Ineos. Finished runner-up to Latour in the youth classification in 2018 and was phenomenal on l’Alpe d’Huez in a performance which should be giving the GC hopefuls nightmares.

 

David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama – FDJ

Age: 22

Grand Tour appearances: 1 – Tour de France 2018

2019 wins: Stage 3 - Tour de Romandie

Another former Tour de l’Avenir winner (2016), Gaudu has been impressive since turning professional with some big rides at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, a top 10 at La Flèche Wallonne and a stage win at the Tour de l’Ain all in 2017.

On debut at the Tour de France in 2018, Gaudu was fourth in the youth classification, just over an hour behind Latour. This season, the Frenchman finished 3rd on GC at the UAE Tour, where he also took the white jersey, finished 6th at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and won a stage and took fifth overall, plus the youth classification at the Tour de Romandie. His role in support of Thibaut Pinot should assist in his bid for the white jersey at the Tour.

Enric Mas (Spn) Deceuninck - QuickStep

Age: 24

Grand Tour appearances: 2 – Vuelta a España 2017, 2018

2019 wins: 0

If there’s pressure on guys like Bernal and the likes of Thibaut Pinot at the Tour this year, imagine being the rider dubbed ‘the next Alberto Contador’. It’s a big call, but Mas did finish as runner-up in the GC to Simon Yates at the Vuelta last year. The best climber in the Deceuninck – QuickStep line-up, it’s likely he’ll find himself alone battling against the Team Ineos and Movistar chokehold at the pointy end of the bunch, so this will be a good test.

Matej Mohorič (Svn) Bahrain Merida

Age: 24

Grand Tour appearances: 5 – Giro d’Italia 2018-16; Vuelta a España 2017, 2015

2019 wins: 0

He turned pro at age 19 and won the world junior and U23 road race titles across consecutive years in 2012 and 2013 – yes, it feels like Mohorič has been around forever because he nearly has. With grand tour stage wins already under his belt, the Slovenian is easily the most experienced of the contenders for this year’s white jersey. However, much will depend on the form of team leader Vincenzo Nibali. Should Nibali give Mohorič some freedom, it will be interesting to see what company he finds himself in through the mountains.