Tour de France: The Big Four contenders for the crown

Team Sky's Chris Froome of Great Britain in his Yellow jersey on the podium as he celebrates winning the 2013 Tour de France, in Paris, France
Team Sky's Chris Froome of Great Britain in his Yellow jersey on the podium as he celebrates winning the 2013 Tour de France, in Paris, France

Some of the biggest names in the world of sport will descend (and ascend) on Yorkshire next week for the Tour de France. Here, is the lowdon on the four men tipped to take the glory.

CHRIS FROOME

Chris Froome

Chris Froome

Age: 29

Team: Team Sky

Country: Britain

Previous Appearances (finishes in brackets): 2008 (84th), 2012 (2nd), 2013 (1st).

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador

Stage wins: Four (2012 - stage seven; 2013 - stages eight, 15 and 17).

Froome has not been the near-unbeatable beast he was in 2013 this year and is nervous about the cobbled fifth stage. Froome won the opening two stages of the Criterium du Dauphine, but a crash contributed to his demise later in the race as he finished 12th, giving his rivals a boost ahead of the Tour.

ALBERTO CONTADOR

Age: 31

Vincenzo Nibali

Vincenzo Nibali

Team: Tinkoff-Saxo

Country: Spain

Previous Appearances (finishes): 2007 (1st), 2009 (1st), 2010 (1st*), 2011 (5th*), 2013 (fourth).

Stage wins: Three (2007 - stage 14; 2009 - stages 15 and 18)

The double winner, stripped of the third title he won in 2010 and his fifth place in 2011 for a doping offence, is showing glimpses of his best form. Whether it will be enough to distance Froome remains to be seen.

VINCENZO NIBALI

Age: 29

Team: Astana

Country: Italy

Previous appearances (finishes): 2008 (20), 2009 (7th), 2012 (3rd).

Stage wins: None

The winner of the 2013 Giro d’Italia missed last year’s Tour after being Bradley Wiggins and Froome’s nearest challenger the previous year. A daring descender who could attack at any moment.

ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

Age: 34

Team: Movistar

Country: Spain

Previous appearances (finishes): 2005 (stage 13 abandoned), 2006 (stage three abandoned), 2007 (6th), 2008 (9th), 2012 (20), 2013 (8).

Stage wins: Three (2005 - stage 10; 2008 - stage one; 2012 - stage 17).

Valverde, another who has served a doping suspension, is touted as Movistar’s team leader ahead of 2013 Tour runner-up Nairo Quintana, who won the Giro d’Italia but is not expected to be in Yorkshire. Won 2009 Vuelta a Espana.