Chris Froome out of Tour de France 2014: Five reasons why you should keep watching Le Tour

The 2013 champion crashed out of the Tour on stage five to end his title defence, but here's why you shouldn't switch of this year's coverage to the Tour de France

First came the controversial omission of Bradley Wiggins. Then Mark Cavendish lasted all of 200km before abandoning. And now, to put the ill-fated icing on an increasingly terrible Tour de France for British interest, the man expected to defend his title, Chris Froome, has crashed out of the race.

Yet despite these blows to the British cycling psyche, there are still plenty of reasons to keep on watching. In fact, let’s turn this around and suggest that, perversely, the departures of all those well-known names might actually lead to a more interesting race. In that spirit, here are five factors to watch out for as the Froome-less Tour continues to wend its way around France.

1. There are still two Brits left

The Tour began on Saturday with four British riders, and five days later only half their number remain. All the more reason, then, to keep an eye or two on the performances of Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates of Orica GreenEdge. Thomas is a selfless rider hewn from the hard-old-fashioned mould. He broke his pelvis during the Corsican section of the 2013 Tour but rode on through the pain as crucial support for Froome- and finished the race, too. Yates is a first-year professional who was desired by Team Sky but elected to begin his career with an Australian team for the opportunity to race for himself. Look out for him as the Tour enters the mountains.

 

2. A Battle Royale between Contador and Nibali

They’re two of the most aggressive riders of this generation- and Froome’s departure may well mean that this Tour de France comes down to a battle between the pre-eminent Spanish and Italian riders of the era. After a disappointing performance in 2013, Contador looks to be back on form- although there will always be a slight shadow trailing him after his positive doping test for Clenbuterol and subsequent ban. Nibali is a descender par excellence, and himself appears to be back on form after a scratchy start to 2014.

Read more: Froome abandons Tour defence

3. Gallic flair

For the first time in many a year, the French have real and coherent prospects for success in their home race. Look out for the stylish climber Pierre Rolland, who has a penchant for a mad breakaway just like his teammate and compatriot Thomas Voeckler. Rolland has his eyes firmly trained on the polka-dot jersey of the mountains competition. The white jersey for best young rider could well be a Gallic affair, too, with both Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot going well.

4. Mountains, mountains and more mountains

There are eight summit finishes in this year’s race, which should ensure thrilling riding and relentless attacking right to the end of each stage. The most beautiful of all is stage 18 to Hautacam which crosses the iconic climb of the Col du Tourmalet, whose history is as legendary as the Tour’s itself. The mountains are where the Tour de France always comes alive- and we’re not even there yet, so keep watching!

5. It’s the world’s greatest bike race

With or without British interest, the Tour is the most entertaining, most vibrant, most ridiculously overblown bike racing pageant in the world. Yes, it can bore and frustrate on certain days (sprints…), but professional cycling doesn’t get any bigger or more relevant in wider sporting terms than the annual scandal-pocked caper around France. Could you ever imagine seeing the World Cup winners sipping Champagne with five minutes to go in the final? That’s the Tour de France- baffling and idiosyncratic to the last- and well worth your attention for the next three weeks.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there