Tour de France: Nibali faces uphill struggle but don’t write him off yet

Andre Greipel beats Mark Cavendish on stage two
Andre Greipel beats Mark Cavendish on stage two
Mike Williams on his way to second place in the veteran 50 race last month. Picture: Neil Marshall (171322-123)

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Portsmouth North End’s track and road secretary Mark Williams gives his verdict on the race so far.

Vincenzo Nibali was my pick for overall glory before the race began.

And while it is advantage Chris Froome after week one, I’m not going to jump ship and write the defending champion off just yet.

Many people are questioning Nibali’s form after he finished 10 seconds adrift of his big rivals on the Mur de Bretagne climb on Saturday.

For me, that was just a bad 
day. I saw enough in his aggressive ride on the cobbles on stage four to believe he is in great shape.

And now they have reached the mountains, he is in his element.

This afternoon’s summit finish and the next few stages will see the cream rise to the top in the general classification.

American Tejay van Garderen has looked very good so far, while Warren Barguil has comfortably been the best of the French contenders.

He could finish as high as the top five. He has been that good.

I don’t see Alberto Contador mounting a sustained challenge.

His Giro victory has taken too much out of him.

Instead, Nairo Quintana could emerge as the biggest rival to Froome and Nibali.

He is 1min 59sec behind the leader but his Movistar team is so strong, they could put Team Sky and Froome under serious pressure in the mountains.

Elsewhere, I predicted Mark Cavendish would dominate the sprints in this Tour but it hasn’t been the case.

The tactics of his team have let him down on a couple of occasions, although he was at his opportunistic best when he got off the mark in Fougères on Friday.

His chances are limited now and Peter Sagan looks odds-on to retain the green jersey but I still fancy Cav to have the final word on the Champs-Élysées on July 26.