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Can anyone stop 'va va Froome' in this year's Tour de France?

We take a look at the leading contenders for the yellow jersey in 2015.

2014 Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali
2014 Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali

NO FEWER THAN eight Tour champions will start the 2015 Tour de France with Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador aiming for another yellow jersey.

That trio are the only previous winners of Le Tour who will race this year, with the 2015 edition set to begin in Utrecht, Netherlands on Saturday 4 July and finish in Paris on 26 July

But, with the last four general classification (GC) winners also carrying the label of first-time champions, could it be the year for someone like Nairo Quintana?

We take a look at the leading contenders:

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), 30, Italy – 11/2

Source: AP/Press Association Images

Nibali will be aiming to become the first legal back-to-back Tour de France champion since Miguel Indurain when he begins the individual time trial in Utrecht.

However, with Astana having endured a drawn-out investigation into their UCI World Tour licence this year, Nibali and his Kazakhstan-based team have struggled to have an impact in 2015 so far.

But having won his second straight Italian national championship last week – his first victory of the year – the Messina-born rider has at least found form at the right time.

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), 32, Spain – 5/1

Source: AP/Press Association Images

‘El Pistolero’ notched his seventh Grand Tour GC title in May when he prevailed over Fabio Aru (Astana) to win the Giro d’Italia.

Despite Aru having the stronger team around him – a good sign for Nibali in France – Contador controlled the three-week race beautifully, wearing the pink jersey for 16 days as the likes of Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step) and Richie Porte (Team Sky) fell away.

While no rider has won the Giro-Tour double since Marco Pantani in 1998, Contador at least has experience winning two Grand Tours before, claiming both the Giro and the Vuelta a Espana in 2008.

Chris Froome (Team Sky), 30, United Kingdom -13/8f

Source: Christophe Ena/AP/Press Association Images

The 2013 winner will be aiming to make up for a disappointing defence of his title last year. Froome crashed twice on a windy and wet stage five as Lars Boom triumphed on the cobblestones.

With this year’s stage four including a hint of Paris-Roubaix, Froome will be desperate to get through Tuesday unscathed and take advantage of Sky’s strong team including Porte, Nico Roche, Geraint Thomas, Peter Kennaugh and Ian Stannard.

Froome won the Criterium du Dauphine last month and was third at the Tour de Romandie.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar), 25, Colombia – 5/2

Source: AP/Press Association Images

Having finished second in 2013, the pint-sized Colombian avoided Le Tour last year to focus on the Giro and claimed his maiden Grand Tour success in Italy.

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Quintana has not raced on the World Tour since the Tour de Romandie, which ended on May 3, so should be fresh for an all-out tilt at the yellow jersey. A prolific climber, who has gone close in the world’s most famous cycling race before, Quintana is the most likely debut winner in the 2015 peloton.

The 25-year-old won the Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of compatriot Uran, Contador and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).

Tejay van Garderen (BMC), 26, United States – 40/1

Source: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP/Press Association Images

Riding in his first Tour post-Cadel Evans, Van Garderen will be BMC’s main man over the next three weeks.

The American finished fifth last year and in 2012, while he also won the white jersey as the best young rider three years ago, so he has pedigree in France.

With BMC having won the world team time trial last year, Van Garderen will have an advantage over the other GC contenders on July 12 in Brittany. Van Garderen has finished second at the Criterium du Dauphine and Tour of Oman this year.

Originally published at 14.24

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