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Little Rascals: The White Jersey preview

It's going to be a huge Tour de France. I can't remember a Tour in my time as a fan (since 1996) with so many high quality general classification riders, all seemingly in good shape, and a brutal group of sprinters and puncheurs to boot. In all that the little kiddies race for the Youth classification will likely be overshadowed but it is as interesting a field there really. Let's look at the little scamps that will be racing for White.


Spanky McFarlane - Nairo Quintana

We'd all like this to be an open fight of course but the sad reality for everyone is that Sparky just managed to squeeze in under the wire to be eligible (you have to be born after January 1, 1990). Enough is being said about him elsewhere, he's perhaps the most tipped favorite for yellow so.... he could very well become member of the select club that won both yellow and white in the same year.


Alfalfa - Romain Bardet

French kids,French kids, everywhere you look there are French kids. Alfalfa is my pick for the one who can provide the most fun along the way. In a way it's almost a pity that he will probably be conserving power because he could get some nice results on the first week Mur-stages if he went for it. He's probably the white-contender that benefits most from the lack of TTing too, last years final TT wasn't pretty.


Froggy Laughlin - Thibaut Pinot

The shittiest job in the world is "Next French Tour de France winner". That job description has eaten careers alive and some, like Chavanel, needed a radical shift in career path to overcome the trauma. Pinot it must be said is handling the role admirably so far with a combination of a very relaxed attitude and avoiding to race in France as much as humanly possible outside July. He's young and he has fatal weakness in the timetrials still but other than that he looks like a solid, mature GC rider now. Last years TdF was fantastic of course and his season so far has looked on a rock solid upward trajectory culminating in a dominating Rettenbachferner performance in Tour de Suisse. Really (like everyone else) looking forward what he can do in this tailor made TdF.


Slicker Walburn - Wilco Kelderman

The second shittiest job in the world (well, third if you count "Astana press officer") is "the next Dutch stage racing hope". Little Slicker is the latest in a long line in that job and it hasn't reached the meltdown stage yet which is promising. Walburn is my dark horse pick for best kid after Sparky McFarlane despite a quiet season so far. After his solid Giro last year I have no doubt this year has been all about July and if he gets off to a good start in the TT this could all turn interesting very fast.


Mickey Gubitosi - Warren Barguil

Every gang needs a prankster and Mickey here is probably it for this race. First shot at the Tour and no real expectations really but with Kittel out the window for him probably opened a little. He's been impressive, if over eager in the Vuelta and a good guess is he will have a bit of deer-in-headlights moment when the TdF hits him with all its bells and whistles and first week traps. Still, we've been waiting a while for this debut and it could be winner. I just think it may be more likely it results in a something like a stage win than a solid GC result.


Coolidge and Tunney - Adam & Simon Yates

These are the boys to look out for on the other hand. Keep insisting that they are here for stages only but the races so far this year show that they are quite capable to do the GC-grind, perhaps not well enough to be in the GC top but certainly to be in the top of the under25s. And if it troubles you that I insist on treating them as one person I will continue to do so until we have conclusive evidence that the one is different from the other. Simon was supposed to be the Ardennes-guy but that didn't seem to stop him in the Dauphine. So there.


Waldo - Rohan Dennis

Waldo probably gets the title of "most likely to wear the yellow jersey early" in the gang. His GC ambitions are probably very limited and likely to die under the wheels of the Tejay-wagon but the opening TT is his big focus. It should be downhill from there but his support role could also give him a decent enough placing on overall GC. The dropoff in times is usually pretty big in the White competition after the very top riders.


Buddy McDonald - Michal Kwiatkowski

This is the real unknown. Two years ago he looked like a serious GC threat but virtually everything we've seen since confirms him as a great rider in most areas, just not GC riding. I dunno, maybe the climbing was easy that year or he was on some freak form but he seems to have abandoned GC ambitions since. My feeling, since his contract future is up in the air (Etixx or Sky- who's willing to pay the big money?) is he may take the GC very seriously here afterall. It's just a wild guess though. The sane option would be to go all in for first week results.


Porky - Eduardo Sepulveda

I must admit to not knowing all that much about Porky beyond the big hype but he looked terrific in Turkey and Route du Sud and Bretagne are putting a great deal of faith in him. Let's see where it leads. My hunch is that he, much like the guys coming after in this list will fall in the category of being very enthusiastic about the second half of the race but when and if they get there they will be in "OMG! WTF? LOL!"-mood. It's one thing to head into those juicy mountains but another thing to do it after the craziest 10 days of racing in your young life.


Speck Haines - Louis Meintjes

Probably Qubeka's best chance of a notable ride in this Tour but not over three weeks I think. A nice ride on one of the Pyrenees stages and maybe reaching Paris would be a dream outcome.


Wheezer Hutchins - Tim Wellens

Here's another that almost certainly isn't actually targeting the GC but could place fairly well anyway just based on the quality of his riding. He's perhaps not the type to sit himself in the gruppetto every day if he is feeling good but will try and finish in decent times and make himself relevant to teammates when he can. He'll be more interesting in the first week than on GC but who knows.


Stymie Beard - Merhawi Kudus

Youngest little rascal in the whole race and probably in way over his head but if he can make it to the Pyrenees it will be great to see if he can make a mark somewhere. He is a prodigious climbing talent and it would be a mjaor coup for Qubeka if Meintjes or Kudus could get on the scoreboard somehow.


Tommy "Butch" Bond - Tom Dumoulin

Last but not least another guy who sits in the middle ground of kids who won't ride for GC as far as we know but might do well anyway. He tried valiantly in Suisse and he definitely looks like a guy who could do GTs eventually. If he makes this a trial run he could be up there.