For many reason's this year is the beginning of a change of guard with past winners such as Froome and Thomas not even been picked for their team and and Sky (now named Ineos) no longer being totally dominant with Jumbo-Visma threatening to be the new dominant force.
These are the Teams taking part and my views on them.
AG2R - French team with French rider Romain Bardet the standout rider and usually in the mix for a podium place in Paris. Thing is though he's already told his team he's leaving at the end of the season, so will his colleagues be prepared to slog their guts out for him knowing he's jumping ship?
Astana - Team in decline. Lopez is having an Indian summer to his career but I doubt he will get on the podium.
Bahrain-McLaren - A tie up between Arab wealth and F1 know how and headed by a former top boss at Sky/Ineos. Still in the building process and have big hitters with Landa and Poels (both ex-Sky stars) probably too early in the building process but they decided not to take Cavendish, so they aren't focusing on sprint stages.
Bora - Sagan's team (he's been the best individual rider around for the best part of a decade) he's and all rounder - so can't keep up with the mountain boys, so will never win the TdF but he always wins the 'Green Jersey' which is really intended for the best sprinter but his all around ability means he picks up points on all stages which most of the sprinters (who like flat stages) can't. Big shout out to the German Emanuel Buchmann one of the new wave of riders who will make their names in the coming years. He already finished fourth at the Tour last year and could go even better this year if his team gives him the backing his talent deserves.
CCC - Sadly a team in chaos due to Corona and their made sponsor having to pull out. Good luck to them but don't expect much from them.
Cofidis - Perennial French team at the Tour but a small fry. Will be wanting to get on TV so will be in the early breaks for the cameras to follow. They will hope to win a stage, if so their tour will be a good one and with the class sprinter Viviani in their team my money is on that they might well.
Quick Step - Belgium goliath of a team but their aim is the one day classic races that their fans adore. They have however the super star, French rider Julian Alaphilippe who lit up last years race and could even win it if that was his aim and trained accordingly for it. He says he isn't going for it this season and unfortunately lost his best helper Remco Evenepoel who crashed out of a recent race in dramatic style but seems to have survived it ok. Evenepoel will certainly be one to watch for the future he certainly has the talent. Stage wins seem to be the aim for Quick Step this tour.
EF Pro Cycling - Solid American team whose owner Johnathon Vaughters always seems to pull a rabbit out of the hat when it seems they are going to fold. Uran has talent but never made the top step when it matters and Preston boy Carthy is in the team but I don't expect much other than perhaps a win from a breakaway in the mountains when the rider is not a worry to the GC boys.
FDJ - French team and contains the great French hope for a win in Pinot. The whole of France will once more be behind him and he has the talent to do it but in the past he seems to have let the pressure and expectations get to him. Who knows maybe this is his year, certainly not a normal season lead up and no doubt one or two riders have kept their powder dry as to what their true condition is this season. If he isn't going to have a better chance so it's now or never for him. Certainly if he get's to the end I see him on the podium but which step would he be on?
Israel Start up - new team with rich owner behind it - Froome is heading there next season. Dan Martin, probably my favourite current rider is already there and I really do hope he wins a stage. Apart from the really only there to make the numbers up.
Lotto - Soudal - Contains probably the best sprinter on this years tour with the Aussie Caleb Ewan. Sprint wins are what they'll be aiming for and likely get them too.
Mitchelton-Scott - Aussie team being led by Bury boy Adam Yates who has already said his aim is stage wins of which he and his team are quite capable of delivering in the mountains. He will be closely marked by the GC boys until he has dropped down far enough in terms of time to be no threat to them. He is capable of beating them on his day on equal terms anyway but I suspect the plan is to lose time early in the race and target mountain stages when the big boys wouldn't be interested in competing with him.
Movistar - Spanish team in the midst of transition. The great (but drug tainted) Valverde is still there and another one to look out for in the future Enric Mas has just joined them this season. Don't think they have the big enough guns to win this year but they are still work in progress for now.
NTT Pro Cycling - The team you join when you want to end your career. They have some former greats in their ranks but doubt they will achieve much.
Ineos - Not as invincible as they once were. Should have the tools to win again with Bernal if the team fires correctly. New boys Carapaz and Amador are on board and promising Russian Sivakov selected. Bit of a question mark as to how they will fair but again start out as the team to beat.
Jumbo-Visma - The main rivals. Seemed on course to win up to a recently as last week but since then have lost a top gun in Kruijswijk who crashed out injured in a race and their star Primoz Roglic also recovering from a crash. If Roglic is fit and super star Tom Dumoulin who seemed to have the cycling world at his feet just two years ago but somehow couldn't handle it, takes up the slack from the missing Kruijswijk then the challenge is on, they certainly have solid back up riders with them in their team. I think Roglic would have won before Krijswijk crash, now I'm not so sure. If Ineos can't get it together as a team then put your money on Roglic for the win.
Sunweb - seemed to be going places just a couple of years back, now they seem to have just lost there way. Don't expect much at all from them if I'm being honest.
Trek - The best rider I've seen never to win the Tour Richie Porte is here. Would be nice if he could put that right but things like that don't happen in reality. Solid team but aren't going to make a big noise at this Tour.
UAE - headed by Aru - a strange rider than doesn't seem to have that much top end talent but he's certainly pulled off some good wins. Tadej Pogacar would be the one to watch for me another of the potentially up and coming great riders of the next generation.
Direct Energie - Another second level French Team always given a wild card entry. Similar game plan as Cofidis above.
Arkea-Samsic - A second tier outfit with big ambitions. They have signed the moody Nairo Quintana who should have by now won the TdF but has always seemed to be too busy fighting with his team than getting them to support him. Frenchman Warren Barguil is in the team and he is another wonderfully gifted riders who seems to have lost his way. This wildcard entry might in fact turn out to be the wildcard that sparks this years edition of the Tour into life. If Quintana doesn't get blown over on the flat stages or loses too much time in the Team Time Trials he might (with his team behind him) pose a real threat. A lot of if's and buts but there might be something here to watch.
B&B Hotels - see Direct Energie and Cofidis above
A Roglic win for me but who really knows what will unfold on the Tour.
I'm certainly looking forward to it whatever happens.