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The Doppio is a double shot of road racing reportage normally delivered in a printed magazine to read while you watch the racing at one of our Clubhouses. This year, the Doppio goes digital too and, in the first instalment, reviews the runners and riders in this year’s Grand Boucle.

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AG2R La Mondiale

The brown bibs brigade return with an almost entirely French team – plus ça change. After a strong run of stage wins and podium placings in recent years, leader Romain Bardet endured a Tour to forget last year. Now 28, he’s entering his prime and looking to return to those heights.

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ASTANA

Putting the Kazakh oil industry if not its cyclists on the map, Astana have enjoyed a hugely successful season so far. Danish bird whisperer Jakob Fuglsang will lead the charge, much to the relief of French fans who avoid any chance of an altercation with the flapping fists of Miguel Ángel López.

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BAHRAIN-MERIDA

Say it quietly back in Bahrain, but this team’s prospects don’t look so good. Nibali blew his doors off in Italy while Rohan Dennis is likely to find climbing harder than he thinks, again. A superteam by budget but likely stage hunters this July. Look out for Slovene Matej Mohorič.

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BORA-HANSGROHE

Apart from a range of shower heads being named in his honour, the wins have been few and far between for Peter Sagan. That said, let’s not kid ourselves. The Slovak will probably win a seventh green jersey unless there’s a Frenchman in second and the commissaires arbitrarily disqualify him.

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CCC

Like a Countdown contestant cursed with a crockful of consonants, the former BMC team’s roster has been gutted, leaving only Greg van Avermaet. With the race starting in his native Belgium, Greg’s Polish bosses will be hoping he’s up for his customary early stint in yellow.

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COFIDIS

The only team to have been competing at the Tour for longer than the yellow jersey has been awarded to its winner. No, not really – but seriously, they’ve gone over a hundred stages at the race without a win.

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DECEUNINCK-QUICKSTEP

The Classics conquerors are normally limited to stage wins and a non-yellow jersey. French darling and moustachioed musketeer Alaphilippe ought to take care of that but there’ll be an exciting overall challenge from Enric Mas. Let’s just hope their anachronistic boss keeps his mouth firmly fermé.

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EF EDUCATION FIRST

This agreeable bunch of argyle-clad Americans have had a wonderful season with Martínez shining in the mountains and Bettiol battering the opposition at Flanders. Bad luck has taken the former out of the equation for France but with the return of his compatriot Urán, hopes are high.

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

With a trip to their home region in the first week, this French lottery-funded outfit should be feeling lucky. Thibaut Pinot no longer carries just promise but a Monument win in his pocket, and he looks strong. Time and a stage 6 finish on la Planche des Belles Filles – a climb he regularly trains on – will tell.

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LOTTO SOUDAL

Twenty-five years at the top, an inoffensive kit and a reliable – if unremarkable – roster of riders, this team’s as safe as houses made with their sponsor’s sealant. Even if they don’t win a stage, Thomas de Gendt will be in the breakaway for so long that it won’t matter.

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MOVISTAR

The swash-buckling Spanish team got its mojo back with a Giro win, and head to the Tour with Quintana at the helm. The much maligned master of two Grand Tours will have a pack of destructive domestiques to let loose in the mountains including Landa, Carapaz, Soler. Rivals beware.

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MICHELTON-SCOTT

After a swing and a miss from Simon, it’s over to Adam Yates at the Tour. While his rivals look to avoid punctures, the Englishman will aim to dodge the deflating last kilometre banner that took him down in 2016 and improve on the fourth place he took home.

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ARKEA-SAMSIC

A second division team with first rate ambitions, this Breton outfit now boasts sprint star André Greipel and homegrown hero Warren ‘Wawa’ Barguil. With the Gorilla growing old and Barguil no badger, a marked upturn in both riders’ fortunes will be required to avoid fits of tears.

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DIMENSION DATA

You don’t need IT insight to work out the state of DiDa’s season. Four wins is a meagre return, but a fifth at the Tour would be huge. In the absence of Mark Cavendish, all eyes are on Norwegian nice guy and Dauphiné stage winner Edvald Boassen Hagen.

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JUMBO-VISMA

In a turn around as unlikely as a ski jumper winning the Tour, this yellow Dutch team has refound its courage to become one of the strongest. Though he might have to turn sideways to get onto the team bus, broad-shouldered Steven Kruijswijk will be hoping a hail mary in the mountains can help him onto the podium.

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KATUSHA-ALPECIN

They might be the stars of a German shampoo company’s frankly awful attempt at an amusing advert, but the riders of Katusha will not be to the fore at the Tour. They’re moulting big names at the root and those that remain might be fighting for their job – as well as their hair – come the end of the season.

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TEAM INEOS

From passing on plastic to producing millions of tonnes of the stuff, this is a team with an inconsistent marketing message at odds with their results at this race. With reigning champion Thomas and winner-in-waiting Bernal, they’re a perfectly packaged proposition.

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TEAM SUNWEB

Dumoulin’s Giro ended early, but with the likes of Kelderman and Oomen for support in the mountains his challenge at the Tour could go much further. If not, he’ll go for the time trials and the team will hope Michael Matthews can mop up a stage win or two.

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TOTAL

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one wondering what happened to the Direct Energie team. Now riding in a camouflage greyish blue kit, they’ve been largely anonymous in the run up to the year’s biggest race and will be hoping that star signing Niki Terpstra can snag a result.

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TREK-SEGAFREDO

Like a rich football club with no belief in its youth team, Trek just announced another new name in its stable of overpaid, underachieving old timers. This time around they’ll focus on Richie Porte and hope he doesn’t crash out on stage 9 for the third consecutive year.

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UAE EMIRATES

Another team who aren’t shy in the transfer market, UAE buy who they can and have ended up with an impressive team. Irishman Dan Martin will lead the overall charge while the Norse god of the bunch gallop Alexander Kristoff will haul himself through the mountains to win some second week sprints.

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*WANTY-GROUPE GOBERT

In the absence of the Androni Giocattoli squad of Giro fame, this Belgian outfit fly the flag for garish team kits. With approximately seven different colours and twice as many sponsor logos, the kit might be difficult to miss but the riders are. We can’t name any…

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