The 2024 Tour de France is shaping up to be a banger. Barring injury, the field looks set to deliver a titanic matchup of major stars, as Visma–Lease a Bike goes for a threepeat with Jonas Vingegaard, while Soudal–Quick Step’s Remco Evenepoel, UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogačar, and Vingegaard’s former teammate, Primož Roglič, stand in his way.
All of them will be backed by strong rosters of support riders. Teams are starting to announce prospective schedules for their riders, and the Tour should see remarkable depth at the powerhouse squads of the four favorites. But we don’t have to wait anywhere near that long for head-to-head matchups.
While top pros have over the years started to dial back their racing days prior to their top objectives, all four have active spring campaigns that will see them face off multiple times leading up to the Tour. We ran the numbers and charted it here. The early winner? April’s Itzulia, which sees three of the four top stage racers in the world visit. Combine that lineup and Itzulia’s legendarily tough parcours, and you should mark that down on your must-watch list. The Criterium du Dauphiné, two months later, will provide a checkup on how all three have done since.
Most matchups? Roglič and Evenepoel clash three times pre-Tour. Fewest? Vingegaard and Pogačar meet just once, long before July. Notable matchups are a mulligan on last year’s crash-thwarted Liège-Bastogne-Liège duel between Evenepoel and Pogačar, and an early Roglič vs. Evenepoel clash at Paris-Nice. Finally, notice where they’re not racing: June’s Tour de Suisse has pretty clearly fallen out of contention as a key pre-Tour tuneup race for top-level contenders.
Who’s racing where this spring
|Criterium du Dauphiné
|Swaps P-N for Tirreno this year
|Same as his 2022 TdF build
|Most pre-TdF race days (30)
Not surprisingly, all four teams will bring their A squads to the Tour, but as a curious footnote, leaders won’t race much with some of their planned TdF teammates until the Grand Depart. Evenepoel will be backed by new signee Mikel Landa, although the two will not race together after mid-February’s Volta ao Algarve.
Roglič’s Bora-Hansgrohe outfit will roll deep at the Tour with former Giro d’Italia winner Jai Hindley, Dani Martinez, and Aleksandr Vlasov, all of whom have top-10 finishes in Grand Tours, but Martinez is slated for a Giro-Tour double led off by Tirreno-Adriatico, while Hindley and Vlasov’s schedules aren’t set yet. Visma has boldly already named its eight-rider Tour team, but the only new addition, American Matteo Jorgenson, won’t race with Vingegaard until the Tour. (Another big new signee, Cian Uijtdebroeks, is scheduled for the Giro but not the Tour.)
Special mention is reserved for Pogačar, the only top Grand Tour racer to attempt the Giro-Tour double. UAE is such a deep team that at the Giro, he’ll be backed by Jay Vine, Rafał Majka, Mikkel Bjerg, and Felix Großschartner, while his Tour team is an absolute bunch of hitters: Adam Yates, Marc Soler, Juan Ayuso, and João Almeida.
What will we learn from these early showdowns? Likely not that much as it relates to the 2024 Tour. Pogačar was dominant at last year’s Paris-Nice, for example, while David Gaudu (!) beat Vingegaard into third. This year Vingegaard and Pogačar will go head-to-head at Tirreno, where Pogačar also won in 2022, and we know what happened at the Tour that year, too.
And of course with Pogačar targeting the Giro, all bets are off as to his form and even goals for the Tour. Finally, one major race this year isn’t (yet) on any of the four riders’ calendars: the Olympics. With a road course that’s more difficult than its statistics might suggest, it wouldn’t be a surprise if riders like Roglič, Evenepoel, and Pogačar are tempted by it, particularly if their other objectives aren’t panning out. Speaking of: it’s January, these are plans, plans change. Half of Jumbo’s planned 2023 Giro roster had to be swapped out due to injury and illness.
But that’s the nature of unknowns, and whether spring tells us much or not about what to expect from the big summer showdowns, that doesn’t stop us from enjoying Paris-Nice, etc. for their own merits. The only thing we do know? It’s going to be a wild season, and it’s definitely NOT all about the Tour.
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