But this year they seem likely to have company, and plenty of it, at the front of the race as the Ineos Grenadiers send a roster stacked full of talent and experience.
Geraint Thomas is back in form, and has his sights set on reprising his 2018 Tour win. However his first job will be securing the leadership within a formidable Ineos Grenadiers squad in which he is one of three former Grand Tour winners and four viable team leaders. Thomas – out of contract this winter – is a worthy contender however, having put together his best set of results since that Tour win three years ago. Gone are the days when what was Team Sky came to the Tour each year with one clear leader and one clear strategy.
Aside from Thomas, they boast two former Giro d’Italia winners in Carapaz and Tao Geoghegan Hart, while veteran Richie Porte won the Criterium du Dauphine earlier this month to bolster his own credentials.
Pogacar’s dramatic victory in last year’s Tour was no fluke, and the 22-year-old heads to the Grand Depart as the bookmakers’ favourite for good reason. He has been in stellar form since the season began, winning his team’s home race in the UAE Tour, then following it up with victory at Tirreno-Adriatico.
Having let last year’s Tour crown slip through his fingers with a collapse on the penultimate day’s time trial, Roglic responded well as he finished the season with victory in the Vuelta a Espana. His calibre is clear, but his form difficult to read.
Beyond Ineos and the Slovenian duo, others will try to spoil the party. Chief among them could be Miguel Angel Lopez of Movistar.
And look out for the continued development of Doncaster’s Connor Swoft, back for his second taste of the Tour de France with French team Arkea-Samsic. He is one of 10 Brits in the race.