Stage wins: Four (2012 - stage seven; 2013 - stages eight, 15 and 17).
Froome was imperious in winning the 2013 title but three crashes in two days resulted in a fractured hand and wrist and resulted in his withdrawal 12 months later. That was as the cobbles he feared approached. He needed some convincing to commit to this year's route due to the lack of a long individual time-trial, but his climbing ability is such that he can win the race at the summits.
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, won the Giro d'Italia in May and is bidding to become the first rider to win the Tours of Italy and France in the same year since Marco Pantani in 1998. Whether he has recovered from his Giro exertions or not remains to be seen.
Stage wins: Four (2014 - stages two, 10, 13 and 18).
The withdrawals of Froome and Contador led many to wonder what might have happened had Nibali faced them at their best in last year's Tour, when he led from the end of the second stage in Sheffield and ruthlessly built on his advantage. Events at his Astana team, which has been shrouded in controversy, cannot have helped his build-up, but Nibali could yet become the first champion to defend the yellow jersey successfully since he who shall not be named (Lance Armstrong).
Previous appearances (finishes): 2013 (second).
Stage wins: One (2013 - stage 20).
Quintana skipped the 2014 Tour after winning the Giro d'Italia, but the diminutive Colombian climber has made the yellow jersey his major objective this year. The lack of a long time-trial will aid Quintana, who, given the full backing of his Movistar squad, will aim to make plenty of gains in the Pyrenees and Alps.