PARIS (Reuters) - Brief penpix of selected Tour de France contenders:
* Chris Froome (Britain, Team Sky, age 29) - also known as Froomey
* Best Tour performance: 1st (2013)
* Best other Grand Tour performances: 2nd (Vuelta 2011, Tour de France 2012)
* Top performances in 2014: 1st (Tour of Oman, Tour de Romandie)
Strengths: One of the best time trialists, possibly the best climber. Backed by a strong team, his speedy accelerations often leave his rivals trailing in his wake.
Weaknesses: Perhaps his confidence has suffered from his recent under-par performances.
* Alberto Contador (Spain, Saxo Tinkoff, 31) - aka: El Pistolero
* Best Tour performance: 1st (2007, 2009)
* Best other Grand Tour performances: 1st (Vuelta 2008, 2012; Giro 2008)
* Top performances in 2014: 1st (Tirreno Adriatico, Tour of the Basque Country), 2nd (Criterium du Dauphine)
Strengths: A formidable attacker, always on the offensive, a big plus in a very mountainous race. The only active rider with titles in all three grand tours. Solid team behind him. Confidence high after great season.
Weaknesses: Must do without key team mate Roman Kreuziger.
* Vincenzo Nibali (Italy, Astana, 29) aka: The Shark
* Best Tour performance: 3rd (2012)
* Best other Grand Tour performances: 1st (Vuelta 2010, Giro 2013)
* Top performances in 2014: 5th (Tour de Romandie)
* Strengths: A very offensive rider, very good climber with great grand tour experience. Weaknesses: Has a tendency to attack when he should not.
* Tejay van Garderen (United States, BMC, 25) aka: none
* Best Tour performance: 5th (2012)
* Best other Grand Tour performance: 35th (Vuelta 2010)
* Top performances in 2014: 2nd (Tour of Oman), 3rd (Tour of the Basque Country)
*Strengths: Versatility. A decent time trialist and good climber. Has had good results this season after suffering on the Tour last year.
Weaknesses: Has never led a team on the Tour de France. Prone to occasional off-days.
* Andrew Talansky (United States, Garmin-Sharp, 25) aka: Pit Bull
* Best Tour performance: 10th (2013)* Best other Grand Tour performance: 7th (Vuelta 2012)
* Top performance in 2014: 1st (Criterium du Dauphine)Strengths: Consistency. Managed a top-10 finish last year and seemed to get better by the day.Weaknesses: Lack of experience leading a Grand Tour team.
* Thibaut Pinot (France, FDJ.fr, 24) aka: none
* Best Tour performance: 10th (2012)
* Best other Grand Tour performance: 7th (Vuelta 2013)
* Top performance in 2014: 9th (Tour of Basque Country)
Strengths: Excellent climber. Took a stage on his Tour debut two years ago.
Weaknesses: Not a good time trialist although he has improved. Has yet to show he can handle the pressure of a big race.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot, editing by Tony Jimenez)