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James Moultrie

Tour de France 2024 - The GC favourites form guide

Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard are once again the front-runners for Tour de France glory after strong starts to 2024.

Everybody takes a different path to the Tour de France, but all the contenders for overall victory in Nice have now started their seasons. Jonas Vingegaard got off to a thunderous start with wins at O Gran Camiño and Tirreno-Adriatico, while Tadej Pogačar delivered yet another performance for the ages at Strade Bianche.

Elsewhere, Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglič met at Paris-Nice, even if Visma-Lease A Bike issued an ominous warning about their strength in depth when Matteo Jorgenson carried off final overall victory.

Making comparisons between riders lining out in different races never makes for an exact science, but clashes between the ‘Big Four’ of favourites will be infrequent between now and July.

With that in mind, we present the first 2024 instalment of our ranking of the favourites for Tour victory. 

1. Jonas Vingegaard 

  • Team: Visma-Lease A Bike
  • Tour Experience: Winner in 2022 and 2023, runner-up in 2021
  • 2024 results: 1st & three stage wins at O Gran Camiño, 1st & two stage wins at Tirreno-Adriatico
Jonas Vingegaard on the attack at Tirreno-Adriatico. (Image credit: Getty Images)

The 2022 and 2023 Tour de France winner avoided a showdown against Remco Evenepoel and Primož Roglič at Paris-Nice, but he perhaps regretted it after dominating Tirreno-Adriatico with a show of superb early-season form.

The Dane won both mountain stages in the Italian stage race, surging away from Juan Ayuso, Jai Hindley et al when he felt like it to win alone and gain significant time. He was clearly on another level.

“The season is not only about the Tour de France. It’s better to try to do something now, win some races and win as much as possible,” Vingegaard suggested, clearly happy and at ease after riding so well at Tirreno-Adriatico.

“I was in shape last year but for some other things, I didn’t perform that well, but I always believed in myself and my form. I think my level is still improving and I hope I can improve more for the Tour de France. I know I can peak in July.”

Vingegaard confirmed he is unlikely to ride the Ardennes Classics. Itzulia Basque Country is next but without a spell at altitude beforehand.

“I’m looking forward to racing those two guys too,” Vingegaard said of Roglič and Evenepoel, with genuine enthusiasm and a sense of a challenge.

“It was a good peloton here, but they are some of the best riders in the world, so you have to compare yourself against them. To be the best rider in the world, you have to beat those guys.”

2. Tadej Pogacar

  • Team: UAE Team Emirates
  • Tour Experience: Winner in 2020 and 2021, runner-up in 2022 and 2023
  • 2024 results: 1st at Strade Bianche
Tadej Pogačar on the way to another victory at Strade Bianche (Image credit: Getty Images)

Tadej Pogačar has different ambitions from his Tour de France rivals and different characteristics as a rider, so he has a very different race programme from everyone else.

He is targeting the Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double and so is racing less in the spring to stay fresh and prepare to be at his best in May and then again in July.

The UAE Team Emirates leader dominated Strade Bianche with his 81 km solo attack but then skipped Tirreno-Adriatico, making Milan-San Remo his second race day of the season. The Volta a Catalunya will be the only stage race of the spring, with Liège-Bastogne-Liège his last race coming after an altitude camp before starting the Giro d’Italia in Turin on May 4.

“I have a really nice programme. I can be excited for each race,” Pogačar said after his Strade Bianche win, confirming he has enjoyed a productive pre-season and is already on great form and on track for his Giro-Tour double attempt.

“I’ve got back all the confidence that I maybe lost after the crash last year. It was a really great winter for me, I had really great preparation and I’ve got confirmation that all is good.”

A one-day race is no confirmation of Tour de France form, but Pogačar appears happier than ever after several months at home. He has a spring in his step and a smile on his face, a terrible sign for his rivals of what is likely to come in 2024.

3. Remco Evenepoel

  • Team: Soudal-QuickStep
  • Tour Experience: Debutant
  • 2024 results: 1st at Figueira Champions Classics, 1st & stage win at Volta ao Algarve, 2nd & stage win at Paris-Nice
Remco Evenepoel celebrates the stage win on the last day of Paris-Nice (Image credit: Getty Images)

Remco Evenepoel started his year in a similar manner to Vingegaard and Pogačar by delivering a remarkable solo exhibition at the Figueira Champions Classic. Later in the week, he ran through his scales on very familiar terrain at the Volta ao Algave, winning the race for the third time and in the usual manner, by dominating the time trial and tracking everything on the two summit finishes.

From the friendly confines of Portugal, Evenepoel moved on to new ground in March. Prior to this year, Evenepoel’s lone excursions across the Franco-Belgian border had come at the Chrono des Nations. With his Tour debut on the horizon, Evenepoel figured he might as well spend a bit more time on French roads, and so he opted for Paris-Nice over Tirreno-Adriatico or the Volta a Catalunya.

The Race to the Sun didn’t go entirely to plan for Evenepoel, though it was far from a disaster either, as he picked up second place overall and a stage win in Nice. His overall challenge was ultimately undone by the tactical error that allowed Matteo Jorgenson out of his sight on stage 6, but it will surely be a nagging concern that one of Vingegaard’s Visma-Lease A Bike domestiques dealt so ably with his onslaught on the final stage.

“It’s not yet the best Remco, but we’re getting there,” said Evenepoel, who will measure himself against Vingegaard at Itzulia Basque Country before an anticipated head-to-head with Pogačar at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Unlike his rivals, Evenepoel hasn’t yet trained at altitude in 2024, and he won’t do so until after the Ardennes. By his reckoning, there is still ample margin for improvement before July. “We can already be very positive with the feeling that we now have without altitude.”

4. Primoz Roglic

  • Team: Bora-Hansgrohe
  • Tour Experience: Runner-up in 2020, fourth in 2018, three stage wins
  • 2024 results: 10th at Paris-Nice
Primož Roglic had a quiet Paris-Nice by his standards, but perhaps that was only in keeping with the plan. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Primož Roglič remains in our top four on pedigree rather than performance, given that his 10th place at Paris-Nice marked his worst finish in a stage race of any description since he placed 15th overall at the same event in 2021. That statistic doesn’t tell the full story, of course, as Roglič crashed on the final day of that edition of Paris-Nice while wearing the yellow jersey.

In reality, then, this was Roglič’s most subdued outing in a stage race since he placed 29th overall at the 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico. In his subsequent 27 stage race appearances, Roglič crashed out on four occasions (three times at Grand Tours), but he finished on the podium 20 times out of his 23 finishes. The exceptions came at the 2018 Tour de France (4th), 2021 Paris-Nice (15th) and 2022 Itzulia Basque Country (8th).

What does this mean for Roglič’s prospects of Tour victory in July? Probably less than you think. His showing here was entirely in keeping with the vision Bora-Hansgrohe performance manager Rolf Aldag laid out at the team’s media day in January. In his Jumbo-Visma era, Roglič tended to win early and often. At Bora, Aldag insisted, the Tour is the only win that matters, and his programme has been designed accordingly.

“Where we want to clash with the ‘Big Four’ is at the Tour de France,” Aldag explained back then, with Roglič adding that it would be a “bonus” if he got victories before July. The Slovenian certainly looked a long way short of his usual March sharpness at Paris-Nice, but perhaps that’s just all part of the grand design for his fresh approach to the Tour.

Roglič never appeared in any undue difficulty during the week either, though as Philippa York pointed out, Bora-Hansgrohe’s tactical approach to the team time trial left much to be desired. For now, the 34-year-old appears content to fly under the radar, but Itzulia Basque Country will give a better indication of his progress.

5. Juan Ayuso

  • Team: UAE Team Emirates
  • Tour Experience: Debutant
  • 2024 results: 2nd at Ruta del Sol, 1st at Faun Ardéche Classic, 2nd at Faun Drôme Classic, 3rd at Trofeo Laigueglia, 2nd overall & stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico
Juan Ayuso measured himself against Jonas Vingegaard at Tirreno-Adriatico (Image credit: Getty Images)

Juan Ayuso’s career has always been on a fast track and will accelerate even more this summer when he makes his Tour de France debut alongside Tadej Pogačar. He will be the Slovenian’s understudy, his apprentice and domestique. If Pogačar struggles during or after the Tour de France, then Ayuso will be ready to step up and play an even bigger role.

UAE Team Emirates also have Adam Yates and João Almeida in their 2024 Tour de France long list, but Ayuso arguably offers more potential. He is still only 21 but was third in the 2022 Vuelta a Espana and fourth last year after a disrupted season.

He was unable to match Jonas Vingegaard on the Tirreno-Adriatico climbs but that only gave him more motivation for the four months before this year’s Tour de France.

“If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. To have these opportunities to race against the best riders in the world is very nice and motivating,” Ayuso told Cyclingnews in Italy.

“I wanted to get to know the Tour this year, the team thought it was a good idea, so that's the plan for 2024.

“The Tour is the biggest dream cyclists can have, and I think I moved one step forward last year. I’m a bit closer now to the guys that are at the top. With the winter and during the season before the Tour, I hope I can climb another big step and be ready.

6. Adam Yates

  • Team: UAE Team Emirates
  • Tour experience: 7 appearances. 3rd overall in 2024, 4th overall in 2016
  • 2024 results: 1st & stage win Tour of Oman. DNF UAE Tour
Adam Yates wins atop Green Mountain at the Tour of Oman (Image credit: Getty Images)

Yates’ podium finish at last year’s Tour demonstrated that he is more than simply a luxury domestique, but a potential auxiliary leader should mishap befall Pogačar.

The Briton enjoyed a career year in his first season at UAE Team Emirates, winning the UAE Tour, Tour de Romandie and the Grand Prix de Montréal, and he started his 2024 campaign on a similarly buoyant note by conquering Green Mountain to take overall victory at the Tour of Oman.

The concussion sustained in a crash at the UAE Tour, however, has since arrested Yates’ progress. UAE Team Emirates took Yates out of that race as soon as the extent of his injury became clear, and, sagely, they also kept him out of the line-up for Tirreno-Adriatico.

It’s not yet certain when Yates will return to action. With Pogačar leading the line for UAE at the Volta a Catalunya, the Briton might be held back for Itzulia Basque Country or even the Tour de Romandie.

7. Simon Yates

  • Team: Jayco-AlUla
  • Tour experience: 6 appearances. 4th overall 2024. Two stage wins in 2019
  • 2024 results: 7th at Tour Down Under, 1st & stage win AlUla Tour
Simon Yates finished fifth in the 2023 Tour de France (Image credit: Marco BERTORELLO / AFP Getty Images)

Like his brother, Simon Yates picked up a win on the Arabian Peninsula in February with a sponsor-pleasing victory at the Alula Tour. As ever in Saudi Arabia, there wasn’t considerable depth in the field, but winning is a useful habit nonetheless, and Yates overcame UAE’s strength in numbers to claim the concluding stage and final overall victory.

Having begun his campaign early with seventh overall at the Tour Down Under, Yates opted against racing Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico. Instead, the Briton will ride both the Volta a Catalunya and Itzulia Basque, giving himself a chance to measure himself against all of the ‘Big Four’ across the two events.

Vingegaard, Pogačar et al may be on a different level from Yates, but the 31-year-old remains a consistent yet strangely underrated performer. Expect him to be in the mix in late March and April.

8. Sepp Kuss

  • Team: Visma-Lease A Bike
  • Tour experience: Four appearances. 12th overall in 2023. Stage winner in 2021
  • 2024 results: 6th at Clásica Jaén, 8th at Volta ao Algarve, DNF at Strade Bianche
Sepp Kuss in action at the Clásica Jaén (Image credit: Getty Images)

Victory at last year’s Vuelta a España has surely changed Kuss’ ambitions for the summer, but it doesn’t appear to have unduly altered his approach to the early season.

While others at Visma-Lease A Bike – chiefly Vingegaard, Matteo Jorgenson and Jan Tratnik – have made fast starts to 2024, Kuss has been solid rather than spectacular in his first outings of the new campaign.

Kuss was sixth at the Clásica Jaén and he looked assured on the explosive summit finishes at the Volta ao Algarve, though a poor time trial restricted him to eighth overall. He was rather less impressive in abandoning Strade Bianche a week later, but the gravel event was something like bonus territory for the American.

A truer indication of his form will come when he races on familiar terrain at the Volta a Catalunya. In the absence of Vingegaard, it’s also a clear opportunity for Kuss to take the reins of leadership before he links up with the Dane for the first time this season at next month’s Itzulia Basque Country. 

The chasing pack

Carlos Rodríguez has yet to make an impression in 2024 (Image credit: Getty Images)

The 'Big Four' dominate pre-Tour discussion, but the early weeks of the season have again suggested that the road to victory in July will again run through two teams - Visma-Lease A Bike and UAE Team Emirates. For most of the rest of the peloton, there is a gap to be bridged.

Carlos Rodríguez is nominally Ineos’ leader for the Tour after his fifth place finish last year, but the Spaniard has been anonymous in the opening weeks of the season, placing 31st at O Gran Camiño and 28th at Paris-Nice.

His teammate Egan Bernal has been much more impressive. After impressing for the Colombian national team at the Tour Colombia, he proceeded to place third overall at O Gran Camiño and seventh at Paris-Nice. It’s not clear if Bernal will even ride the Tour, far less lead Ineos there, but it is heartening to see his steady, upward trajectory two years on from his life-threatening training crash.

David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), on the other hand, will be feeling the pressure after a disastrous Paris-Nice. Twelve months ago, the Frenchman raised his expectations for the Tour by placing second overall in Nice. This time out, his race unravelled when he crashed on the penultimate climb towards Mont Brouilly, and he was a non-starter on the final day. He will hope his season finally ignites at Itzulia Basque Country.

Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) was mightily impressive at the Tour Colombia, winning the toughest stage to the Alto del Vino, but the Olympic champion has not yet caught the eye in Europe, finishing well off the pace at O Gran Camiño and crashing out at Tirreno-Adriatico. He usually times things just right for Grand Tours, mind, and he has designs on making an impression at the Ardennes Classics this Spring.

Enric Mas (Movistar) made his season debut at Tirreno-Adriatico, though he was nowhere to be seen when Vingegaard started running through his repertoire later in the week. The Spaniard ended the race in 12th overall, but he will hope to be more prominent at the Volta a Catalunya.

The most impressive member of the chasing pack, however, has been Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe). The Australian is set for a luxury domestique role in Roglič’s service at the Tour, but his performance and third place overall at Tirreno-Adriatico suggested a man ready to step into a leadership role if required. The 2022 Giro champion will head to Itzulia Basque Country next month with real intent.

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