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Who will rise and who will fall in 2019?

Joe Robinson
3 Jan 2019

Cyclist gives the rundown of who is looking good for 2019 and who is not

Page 1 of 2Who will rise and who will fall in 2019?

It feels like just yesterday we saw Thibaut Pinot waltzing away from Vincenzo Nibali on the hills of Lombardy to his first Monument and yet we are already gearing up for the start of the of the 2019 WorldTour, beginning at the Tour Down Under in just under two weeks.

In 2019, it was an annus mirabilis for the Brits as, for the first time in history, three men from the same nation took all three Grand Tours. Chris Froome completed the set with pink at the Giro d'Italia while teammate Geraint Thomas bagged yellow at the Tour as well as a New Year's honour and Sports Personality of the Year, with Simon Yates burying Giro demons to clinch Vuelta a Espana red.

The same British invasion is unlikely for 2019 and for Cyclist could see some new faces gracing the WorldTour podiums while others who have continuously knocked on the door could finally be let in.

On the rise

Egan Bernal (Team Sky) 

I would say remember the name but that would be an insult to 2018's breakthrough rider. 

At just 21-years-old, Bernal proved to be the bedrock of Team Sky's Tour de France mountain dominance as he was continuously slinging a leash around the likes of Nibali, Quintana and Dumoulin throughout the Pyrenees and the Alps. Not to mention his victory at the Tour of California.

Now in 2019 and Team Sky's WorldTour swansong, Bernal is being given the opportunity to spread his wings at the Giro as team leader - which is very exciting.

It's unlikely that he will come away with victory - it's the best Giro start list in quite a long time - but he will almost certainly be there or thereabouts and prove why he is likely to become a dominant force in Grand Tour riding for the next decade or so.

Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)

The reason Bernal will not wear pink at the end of the Giro is because Tom Dumoulin will be. 

The Dutchman repeatedly came close last season but he long-remained the bridesmaid behind Thomas, Froome and Rohan Dennis.

This year, however, you get the feeling he will go one step further and likely repeat the success of 2017, in which he took the Giro and individual and team time trial world titles.

Although it is an incredibly strong Giro line up, Dumoulin is the probably most complete rider going, but with the possible exception of Vincenzo Nibali. Dumoulin will likely bank time on the best climbers across the three time trials while comfortably climbing with the best in the high mountains. 

And don't put it past him not to bag another Tour podium or time trial rainbow jersey in Yorkshire, either.

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)

Thibaut Pinot's career has steadily progressed since his first Tour de France stage victory back in 2012 and last season it seemed as if the Frenchman had finally broken into the upper echelons of world class riders.

His victory at Lombardy was a masterclass in one-day racing and as for the Vuelta stage on the Covadonga, excellent. His fall from grace at the Giro was dramatic, going from third to a DNF just one day away from Rome, but you get the feeling that this new found confidence could the key to success.

He is always in the mix in the mountains and has made a habit of shaking off excellent competition on some of the Grand Tours toughest mountain tests.

This is not a claim that Pinot will be the next Frenchman to win the Tour but you do get the feeling he could be the first Frenchman to win a Grand Tour since Laurent Jalabert back in 1995.

Also...

Notable mentions to Chris Froome who will likely win a fifth Tour, Peter Sagan who will likely win a third Monument and Deceuninck-Quick Step who will likely win everything else, again.

On the fall

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)

Yes, I am fully aware that he won the Tour de France in 2018 with relative comfort and yes, I am aware he won yellow as a co-leader with Froome last year but let's be clear, Geraint Thomas is not going to be the team leader this July.

There is no way that Team Sky, in their final season, will not be fully backing Froome for a record-equalling fifth Tour win. A fifth Tour completes the legacy, properly cements their name in cycling history and that will be the only thing on the mind of Dave Brailsford and the rest of that management team.

Even Thomas doesn't sound convinced stating that 'The main goal for me will be to go back to the Tour de France for the best result I can.'

Not to defend his title, but for the best result. That sounds like a man already resigned to his fate.

Plus, just look at Thomas's schedule for this year. He is heading to the Tour de Suisse and no real Tour contender heads to Switzerland in preparation. They go to the Criterium du Dauphine, just like he did last summer.

After all, the last man to win Suisse and the Tour was Andy Schleck in 2010 and even then, he technically wasn't first over the line in Paris.

Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 

Big risk this move. Why? Because history tells us that Patrick Lefevere always has the last laugh. 

Just look at Marcel Kittel. Superstar sprinter dominating the Tour, moves from Quick-Step to Katusha, couldn't buy a victory last season.  

While Gaviria is more capable of manufacturing his own opportunities than Kittel, who relies heavily on a functioning lead-out train, he still needs a solid group of riders around him to get him within sight of the line and I'm not sure he has this.

Realistically, it's a team with no pedigree when it comes to dominating the final few kilometres of a race in order to position their sprinter in the optimum position within reach of the line.

Just look at the mixed bag of results Alexander Kristoff has produced in his first year with the team.

Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo)

Blitz the peloton on Willunga Hill in January, drop the best climbers in the world at one-week races in spring, be tipped as a favourite for the Tour de France, crash or experience bad luck in the first week, repeat.

You've got to feel for Richie Porte. He must feel like it's Groundhog Day every July with his repeated misfortune at the Tour. 

To try and shake this curse, he has departed from the now-defunct BMC Racing team for pastures new at Trek-Segafredo, a team that experienced a resurgence in 2018 with an impressive run of results, and while it would be nice for Porte to turn things around it's hard to see it happening.

The only solace that Porte can take from this year is that by the time the Tour rolls around he will be 34-years-old and the only rider to have worn yellow in Paris at that age in the last 50 years happens to also be an Australian, Cadel Evans.

Page 1 of 2Who will rise and who will fall in 2019?