Mikel Landa at the Volta a Catalunya.

Five riders to remember when you run out of obvious Tour de Fantasy picks

You can't pick Pogačar for every stage.

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 28.06.2024 Photography by
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The 2024 Tour de Fantasy is upon us, which means it’s time to start agonizing over when to use Tadej Pogačar and the handful of other heavyweights sure to rack up a bevy of points in the race.

As fantasy players will know, in Escape Collective‘s easy-to-play but hard-to-master fantasy competition, you can only use a rider one time across the entire Tour de France, which means you’re going to want to get the most out of the superstars. And no matter when you decide to play them, at some point during the race, you’re going to need to start looking beyond the big favorites – and that’s why we’ve decided to offer up some tips.

First thing’s first: If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do that here. Then, once you’re all set, you can consider keeping these next five names in mind when you run out of obvious picks for the 2024 Tour de Fantasy …

Fast Finishers

This year’s Tour sure has a lot of sprint stages, and you’ll be into the second- and third-tier sprinters pretty quickly as you pick one after another in the fast-finisher-friendly first two weeks. Let’s start with two speedsters who could get you points after you’ve used your Jasper Philipsens and Mads Pedersens.

Experienced players and avid fans will be familiar with Bahrain Victorious sprinter Phil Bauhaus, but he’s not really a household name, nor is going to be among the top few favorites to win the first few sprint stages. He is, however, a remarkably consistent rider who has a tendency to find himself inside the top 10 and often the top five in a bunch kick.

Bauhaus has never actually won a Grand Tour stage yet, but second and third are still worth plenty of fantasy points, and the 29-year-old German is an expert at finishing there or thereabouts. Once you’ve used your Philipsen pick, second or third is all you’re going to be hoping for on several sprint stages anyway, making Bauhaus a great rider to have in your back pocket.

Phil Bauhaus at the Classic Brugge-De Panne.
(*Whistling*) “Don’t mind me, I’ll just be racking up points under the radar.”

Marijn van den Berg gives EF Education-EasyPost an actual contender for the sprints for the first time in a while. The 24-year-old is particularly good after a tough day, which makes him a solid pick for days like stage 8 and stage 13 where sprints aren’t guaranteed and where rolling hills could lead to fatigue for some of the heavier riders. Plus, if the stage goes to a break, it’s not as if you’ve used up a more likely sprint winner. In any case, Van den Berg is no slouch, and he’s really turned it on this year.

The Dutchman won a stage at the Volta a Catalunya (albeit against a not-spectacular field) and he took two wins and the overall title at the Région Pays de la Loire Tour as well.

Guys who can go up a hill

And what about on the more climber-friendly days? A key piece of advice shared by last year’s winner Thomas Gibson was to remember the domestiques when you run out of GC stars for the mountains, so let’s focus on one who has only recently slotted into that role: Mikel Landa. He was an obvious pick for the mountain stages just one year ago when he was a team leader at Bahrain Victorious, but the way we see it, you should still keep him in mind as an option even now that he is serving as a lieutenant for Remco Evenepoel.

For one thing, he’s a great climber, and more than that, he’s not the sort of rider to just pull the pin after his work his done. If there is any chance of him getting some kind of result, Landa is likely to keep grinding to the top of the climb, and that could be a boon for your fantasy team if you’ve already picked those riders who will finish ahead of him.

Oscar Onley already wins stage 5 the Tour Down Under.
Oscar Onley already has a WorldTour win to his name thanks to the Tour Down Under.

We’ll close it out with two 21-year-olds who are still flying way under the radar but could shine in their debut Tours de France, especially if they can get into a breakaway here or there. Oscar Onley is a promising youngster on the stage-hunting DSM Firmenich-PostNL team who managed top 10s across three separate stages at the Tour de Suisse. Romain Bardet will have most of the attention on him in the final Tour of his illustrious career, but Onley could surprise on the steep stuff.

Ditto for Groupama-FDJ’s Romain Grégoire, a punchy talent who will be a rider to watch on the intermediate stages. That might even include stage 1, where he could be a dark horse candidate to win after the rolling hills near Rimini whittle down the pack. Later in the race, he will be a great bet to get into breakaways, and although it’s never easy picking riders to win those sorts of stages, Grégoire has the kick to turn long days off the front into wins for both his real team and your fantasy team.

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