Stage contender: David Rebellin (Ita)
Polti's gamble of signing Virenque fresh from the Festina scandal has already paid off with the publicity given the controversial Frenchman even before the Tour's start.
But now he will have to deliver a good ride, to convince sceptics that he can succeed in cycling's supposedly drug-free, brave new world.
|Virenque: Allowed back in to the party|
Polti have enjoyed a major win this season, albeit fortuitously as Gotti inherited the Tour of Italy from the excluded Marco Pantani.
Virenque also delivered them a mountain stage in the Giro but made little impact in the overall standings in Italy.
One man dominates this team's Tour thinking, with Cipollini again favourite for the bunch sprints in the Tour's first week.
- Sprinter: Mario Cipollini (Ita)
- Contenders: Laurent Dufaux (Swi), Paolo Savoldelli (Ita)
Expect plenty of showmanship from the Italian star but do not be surprised when he climbs off his bike at the sight of the first mountain.
After that attention will probably turn to Dufaux, the Swiss who served a seven-month ban for his involvement in the Festina affair.
Savoldelli proved his class with a podium finish in May's Giro d'Italia, and looks a confident young performer in the mountains.
Crédit Agricole (France)
- Time traillist: Chris Boardman (GB)
- Stage contenders: Stuart O'Grady (Aus), Jens Voigt (Ger), Magnus Backstedt (Swe)
Formerly Gan and before that Z, this French team is the longstanding home of Britain's No 1 Boardman.
The 1992 Olympic gold medallist will again line up for the Tour, where his best chance for glory is the prologue on the Tour's opening day.
Resources will then be concentrated on getting the yellow jersey, with O'Grady and France's Cedric Vasseur men who done that job in the last two Tours.
CA have no hope of winning the Tour itself but if previous years are a guide, they will be active during all stages of the race.
- Overall contenders: Alex Zulle (Swi), Manuel Beltran (Spa)
- Climber: Jose Maria Jimenez (Spa)
Won the Tour five times in a row thanks to Miguel Indurain, but have struggled to replace the Spaniard since his 1996 retirement.
Zulle is the latest man to try to fill the legend's shoes, but has just served a seven-month ban for his involvement in the Festina drugs scandal.
Climber Jimenez he had a poor Giro d'Italia and will now target the three-week tour of his own country in September.
The Spaniards could do with a good performance from someone and Beltran recently won the Tour of Catalonia to give them some encouragement.
- Contender: Alexandra Vinokourov (Kaz)
- Sprinter: Jan Kirsipuu (Est) Absentee: Laurent Roux (Fra)
Massively successful in 1998 but on a reduced budget this year after the embarrassment of Rodolfo Massi being arrested while leading the mountains competition in last year's Tour.
Vinokourov won one of the important pre-Tour races, the Dauphine Libere, and could challenge for a high overall placing.
Kirsipuu is a useful sprinter for the first week of the Tour across the flatlands of northern France.
La Francaise des Jeux
Last year this team gambled badly on Russia's Evgeni Berzin regaining his top form of the mid-1990s.
- Contender: Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra)
- Sprinter: Jimmy Casper (Fra)
- Stage contender: Max Sciandri (GB)
1999 has seen an improvement, with France's improbably-named Casper beating Erik Zabel in a succession of sprints in the new Tour of Germany.
New acquisition Robin is the big hope for the Tour, after his top 10 finish last year with US Postal.
And Britain's Anglo-Italian rider Sciandri is desperate for a second Tour stage win to follow his 1995 success at Saint Etienne.
- Contender: Oskar Camenzind (Swi)
- Sprinter: Jan Svorada (Cze)
A new team this year, but they began the year with world champion Camenzind and a number of other leading Mapei riders transferring to them.
The Swiss is a good all-round rider who has finished 12th on the Tour.
Svorada is a top sprinter, and won stages last year when he was only Mapei's second option for the fast stages.
- Stage contenders: Jacky Durand (Fra), Andre Tchmil (Bel)
Belgium's leading team is far happier in the single-day classics than the Tour where the aim will be stage wins and an early yellow jersey.
|Durand: Combative rider a year ago|
Tchmil, the aggressive veteran naturalised Belgian originally from the former Soviet Union is one candidate.
New signing Durand could also shine after winning the Tour's prize for combativity last year.
- Stage contenders: Laurent Brochard (Fra), Wladimir Belli (Ita), Laurent Madouas (Fra)
- Absentee: Marcel Wust (Ger)
Now the sport's most infamous name but allowed to start with most of its disgraced stars having departed after last year's drugs debacle.
The watch company is determined to be at the head of efforts to clean up the sport and supplies the Tour's timing equipment.
1997 world champion Brochard remains, as does sprinter Wust, but he is ruled out of the Tour through injury.
Belli is the best hope for an overall placing, but this is now just another French team rather than a top Tour squad.
Cantina Tollo-Alexia Alluminio (Italy)
Called up to replace the Vini Caldirola team thrown off the Tour list after one of its riders failed a UCI blood test at the Tour of Switzerland.
- Stage contenders: Bo Hamburger (Den), Roberto Sgambelluri
- Sprinter: Nicola Minali (Ita)
Hamburger and Minali have both won Tour stages, but Sgambelluri is rider to have given them their best results this year.
Vitalicio Seguros-Grupo Generali (Spain)
Spain's newest team have enjoyed an impressive season-and-a-half's racing and a number of wins on their own soil.
- Stage contenders: Santiago Blanco (Spa), Andrei Zintchenko (Rus)
They are less successful once the border is crossed and will be keen to improve that situation in the Tour.
Look out for former Banesto rider Blanco or Zintchenko, the surprise package of last year's Tour of Spain.
Big Mat-Aubervilliers (France)
- Stage contenders: Lylian Lebreton (Fra), Ludovic Auger (Fra)
- Sprinter: Jay Sweet (Aus)
France's top division two team usually get an invite to the big party, where their aim is a stage win and surviving until the race reaches Paris.
Most of the riders are French, with Lebreton and Auger perhaps capable of giving them a victory in a breakaway.
Sprinter Sweet has won stages in the Tour of Britain but, if selected, knows this is a massive step-up at the age of 23.