Chris Froome’s top 10 Tour de France contenders

The four-time winner isn't headed to the start in Florence, but he picks his favorites among the contenders who are.

by Daniel Benson 24.06.2024 Photography by
Gruber Images and Cor Vos
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by Chris Froome, as told to Daniel Benson

Chris Froome may have missed out on selection for Israel-Premier Tech’s Tour de France team but the four-time winner will still be following the action as the race unfolds through Italy and France, and what better rider to sit down with Escape Collective to talk through his picks for the top 10 on the general classification. 

Froome has gone with three big hitters for the podium, edging Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) ahead of defending champ Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike), and Primož Roglič (Bora-Hansgrohe) taking third in Nice. Here they are – and the rest of the contenders – ranked in order of how Froome rates their chances.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)

My number one favourite, given everything that’s happened in the last few months, has to be Tadej. Even though he’s come off the back of a Giro, and speaking firsthand, and knowing how hard it is, he still has the capacity to win the Tour. He can be in top shape but what stood out for me was how well he handled the Giro. If you compare it to my win in 2018, I had to battle throughout the entire three weeks and just managed to turn the tables in the last few days, whereas Tadej was in complete control of the situation. I don’t want to say that he was riding within himself but he was basically setting the tempo everyday on the climbs. 

There’s still a physical and mental element for him to overcome having won the Giro because the double is a massive challenge. On a physical level, during the month of May, when the Giro is on, that’s really the key preparation time for riders trying to build up for the Tour de France. Most teams at that point are doing their altitude camps but if you’re racing the Giro you’re beholden to the speed of the race. You’re not taking rest days as part of your training, and you’re digging yourself into a hole by riding a Grand Tour. Again, my case was different because [the 2018 Tour] was my fourth Grand Tour in a row, and I was mentally and physically tired. I  wasn’t sharp coming into that race, and wasn’t as fresh but the way in which Tadej rode the Giro was very different to what I went through. He was dictating the speed, and everyone was waiting for him to attack. It was all on his own terms and for me, he’s perfectly placed to challenge for this year’s Tour, especially given that his number one rival isn’t at his absolute fighting best. 

Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike)

Jonas is the two-time defending champion and you can never write off a rider of his calibre. He knows how to win the Tour but given what happened in April and his crash, there are certainly a few question marks over his form. He’s not raced since his crash in [Itzulia] Pays Basque, and just looking at the resulting injuries, you have to be mindful of where his body might be at. He had a collapsed lung, and that’s something that I had back in 2019 from my Dauphiné crash. I can speak from personal experience as to how tough that is to come back from. It’s not just the time off the bike but just being able to breathe normally hurts for months down the line so I can’t even imagine how he’s managed to prepare for the Tour with that sort of injury. Chapeau to him but it must have taken a toll on his preparations. That said, I still think that Jonas is my number two favourite. 

It’s worth adding that I think Tadej probably has the edge when it comes to team support. I don’t think UAE have ever had a team this strong for the Tour. [João Almeida, [Adam] Yates, and [Juan] Ayuso would all be hoping for a top 10 in the normal world, so to have three GC guys helping you in your Tour bid is a pretty good place to be in. It remains to be seen as to the level Visma has given their bad luck this season. 

Primož Roglič (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Third for me is Primož. He’s one of the most cunning and crafty riders I’ve ever raced against and he’s got incredible resilience, which is such an important factor when it comes to competing for the top three steps in a Grand Tour. He won the recent edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné, and while I know he showed a little bit of weakness on that final stage, I still think that he’s going to find another level at the Tour de France. He’s not really raced much this year, so I think that week of racing in France will have done him the world of good. He’d certainly be my first name when it came to rounding out the podium and he’s simply a class rider. He’ll also have a very impressive team supporting him. We saw how strong [Aleksandr] Vlasov was in the Dauphiné, and then if you throw Jai Hindley into the mix, it’s a really competitive core for the mountains. 

Jorgenson’s performances this season have turned many heads, as have those of Derek Gee (just behind).

Matteo Jorgenson (Visma-Lease a Bike)

I know that a lot of people would have Remco Evenepoel either in fourth or higher but I’ve gone for the American rider Matteo Jorgenson. I think he’s a potential card for Visma to use in the GC and he was really on point at the Dauphiné earlier this month, where he was second overall behind Roglič. We’ve really seen him make massive progress this year, and I know he doesn’t have the same level of Grand Tour experience as some of the riders on this list but I think you need to consider momentum in these circumstances. Visma has been hit hard by bad luck this season but Jorgenson has been consistent and successful at almost every turn. Obviously, the team will go into the Tour de France with Jonas as their number one and most protected rider, and Sepp Kuss can’t be ruled out, but Jorgenson is a rider we should all be watching this July. 

Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quick Step)

Remco is number five for me. He’s clearly world class and has a Vuelta a España title in his palmarès but he’s never raced the Tour de France before and for me that’s an important factor. With this strong field of riders, it’s still a bit of an unknown for the young Belgian. What we saw at the Vuelta last year, when he blew up in the second half of the race, is still fresh in people’s minds, so for that reason I’d put him in the middle of the pack when it comes to the GC riders. I can certainly see him having an amazing first half of the race, but the challenge will be whether he can keep that consistency throughout the backend of the race. His Dauphiné performance was quite indicative of that too, in that he came out flying, smashed the TT to give himself a decent lead and then lost the race in the mountains. There’s a bit of a question mark for me and he’s not guaranteed a podium place. It’s within his capabilities but only if he can meet the challenge of backing it up in the final week. 

Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates)

It’s a bit of a tricky one but I’ve got Adam Yates in sixth. It’s tricky, because he definitely has the calibre and the ability to be up there on GC but the question mark is over how much requirement will Tadej need in terms of mountain support. Adam could be forced to pull at key moments and that could mean he loses time but I guess he’ll always be there until the final few kilometres and if Tadej attacks then Adam will be there with the other GC riders. Adam looked really comfortable in Suisse where he won the GC but so much depends on how much effort he’ll need to put in as a domestique. In a way, the more dominant Tadej is, the higher up on GC Adam could finish. You also have to remember that UAE Team Emirates aren’t going to the Tour to pad out the top-ten on GC. If that happens, then great, but they’re going to the Tour de France to win the yellow jersey, and nothing else will matter. 

Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe)

A lot of the GC teams are going into the Tour de France with multiple options and multiple cards to play and I don’t think that Bora-Hansgrohe are any different. Vlasov was top 10 in the Dauphiné but if he hadn’t been racing for Roglič I think that he would have been pushing for top five or even higher. Bora can turn to Vlasov if anything happens with Roglič but I also think that he’s consistent enough to be up there when the yellow jersey group is down to the last few riders. He’s finished inside the top 10 at every stage race he’s been to in 2024 and I can see that trend continuing for the Tour. 

Rodriguez has been firing since April, with stage wins and top-five overall performances in three straight races.

Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers)

I’m a big fan of Carlos. I know he was fifth last year but I think the field is stronger this year and that could make backing up 2023 a bit tougher. What I like about Carlos is just how quickly he’s matured as a rider. He joined Ineos just after I left but I can already see his class and potential when it came to WorldTour racing – I don’t think I’m alone in that sense. He’s still really young but he’s also taken on a lot of responsibility and that’s not an easy thing for a young rider on such a big team. He was fourth in Suisse, and seemed to be on the up, which is an encouraging sign. 

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers)

Egan has shown this year that he’s found another level again as he continues his comeback from that terrible crash a few years ago. I think we could see Bernal close to that 2019 level and from the outside it looks like he’s corrected and worked on a lot of the issues that were holding him back. It really looks like things are working out for him this year. I don’t think he’s going to challenge for the top three but I can see Ineos coming with a team full of depth and Egan benefiting from that. There are a few guys I’ve missed from the top 10 – riders like Enric Mas for example and Simon Yates, and David Gaudu [Note: Gaudu came down positive with Covid-19 after this interview took place. – Ed.] but that’s simply because I’m running out of spots but there’s just so many riders in contention. When you’ve got a field this strong, you just need to draw the line somewhere.

Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech)

I don’t think that I could complete my list without including Derek. No one really pegged him for a podium spot at the Dauphiné but having done the last training camp with him before the Dauphiné it was clear to see that he was flying. I’m not sure he’s going to try and ride GC but I think he’s got both the form and the capacity for it. His numbers at camp were incredibly impressive and if you look at the Giro last year, he was in back-to-back breakaways going for stage wins on such a regular basis. Don’t forget he was doing that in the really hard mountain stages and then going out there the next day and backing it up. That showed to me that he has the ability to ride for GC, he just needs to refine things and pick up a bit more experience. 

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