Form ranking: Tour de France 2019 favourites

How the yellow jersey contenders have started the season

The Tour de France is still more than 100 days away but, with all of the favourites having opened their racing accounts for the season, Cyclingnews takes a look at the contenders and ranks them according to their early form.

1. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)

Overview: The Dane might not be up there on most people's predictions for Tour de France victory, but he's flying higher than all the other bigger names at the moment.

Fuglsang, who won the Critérium du Dauphiné two years ago and finished 12th at the Tour last year, started his season with sixth overall at the Vuelta a Murcia. He then won the Ruta del Sol with second on the punchy opening stage and second in the stage 3 time trial. Switching to Italy, he finished second at Strade Bianche behind Julian Alaphilippe - the stand-out rider of the season so far - and then made the final podium at Tirreno-Adriatico after a storming stage win in Recanati.

Riders like Chris Froome may have no concerns about performing at this juncture in the season, but for Fuglsang, you sense it's important that the confidence is fully flowing.

Highlight: Putting the Tirreno field to the sword on the repeated climbs in Recanati on stage 5. He attacked some 24km out and Adam Yates and Primoz Roglic were the only riders who could finish within a minute.

Lowlight: "Another second place…" Fuglsang complained after Strade Bianche, his third runner-up berth of the season. If that's your biggest complaint, things aren't going so badly.

Up Next: Itzulia Basque Country, Ardennes Classics

2. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)

Overview: Overshadowed last year by the exploits of his twin brother, Simon, at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España, Adam Yates is out to make his own breakthrough as a true contender for Grand Tour titles. After a disappointing Tour de France last year, where heat and nutrition were blamed for his failed GC bid, he will return to lead the line for Mitchelton-Scott in July, and it's been a solid start to the season for the 26-year-old.

He won a stage in Valencia and finished eighth overall, before taking fifth at Ruta del Sol. Moving up to WorldTour level at Tirreno-Adriatico, he stepped things up a notch, winning the team time trial with Mitchelton on the opening day before finishing second and third on the race's most difficult stages. Overall victory - which would have been his first since the 2014 Tour of Turkey - was so close, but in the end he was pipped by Primoz Roglic by a single second on the final-day time trial. 

Highlight: Putting the evergreen Alejandro Valverde to the sword with a double attack on Valencia's hardest climb.

Lowlight: Losing Tirreno by a single second on the final-day time trial. That itself was obviously disappointing but 26 seconds conceded to Roglic over 10 kilometres suggests he maybe hasn't made the same time trial improvements as his brother.

Up next: Volta a Catalunya, Itzulia

Adam Yates is ready to start stage 6 at Tirreno-Adriatico

3. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)

Overview: After a couple of seasons in which he has shaken off the pressures of racing in his home country and found success in Italy, the Frenchman returns to the Tour this year for the first time since 2017. With Il Lombardia, Milano-Torino, the Tour of the Alps, and stage wins at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España in his pocket, hopes are high.

The start to the season has done little to discourage that. Fifth place at Tirreno-Adriatico was a good result on a parcours light on mountains, while the real highlight was his overall victory at the Tour du Haut Var. It was perhaps symbolic, as he beat Romain Bardet, the other great hope to end France's long wait for a Tour winner, to the top of Mont Faron to win the final stage.

Highlight: The Haut Var win was his first on home soil since 2017.

Lowlight: Key domestique Georg Preidler has been suspended after admitting to extracting blood as part of the doping ring around Dr Schmidt.

Up next: Volta a Catalunya

4. Nairo Quintana (Movistar)

Overview: An encouraging start to the season after a disappointing 2018, which was his first season as a pro in which he failed to win a stage race. That hasn't changed so far this year, but there has been indication the three-time Tour de France podium finisher can shake off last year's 10th place finish and challenge for the yellow jersey again.

He was eighth on his season debut at the Vuelta a San Juan, before winning a stage and finishing fifth overall on home soil at the Tour Colombia. His first real test was Paris-Nice, and he performed strongly, in conditions that certainly didn't suit him, to finish second overall. Though perhaps not as eye-catching as his younger compatriot Egan Bernal, he was surprisingly good in the crosswinds on the opening two days. He went on the attack on the final day but couldn't topple Bernal, who'd built his lead in the time trial. The route as a whole wasn't mountainous enough to really suit Quintana, so he'll be pleased with second place and his week as a whole.j

Highlight: Quintana celebrated in Colombia as vigourously as he ever has, suggesting a somewhat cathartic moment in front of his adoring home fans.

Lowlight: Quintana lost Paris-Nice to Bernal by 39 seconds, 38 of which were conceded in the time trial. That may well have signalled a changing in the guard in Colombia's great hope for a first Tour victory.

Up next: Itzulia

5. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)

Overview: One of the riders who's aiming for the Giro-Tour double, Dumoulin's build-up to July will take in 21 days of hard racing in Italy in May. Still, he showed last year he can manage it, with second place in both.

This season hasn't started as badly as the last, but neither has it started that well. Sixth overall at the UAE Tour was followed by fourth at Tirreno-Adriatico. In fact, the typically forthright Dumoulin has already summed it up pretty well for us.

"It was not bad but not great, it was all okay-ish and I'm not riding for okay-ish. I just need to improve my general level a tiny bit and I'm not far off of where I need and want to be heading into May; there's still time."

Highlight: Second place atop Jebel Jais at the UAE Tour.

Lowlight: The Dutchman seemed particularly despondent after losing time on stage 4 of Tirreno.

Up next: Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Tom Dumoulin leads his Team Sunweb teammates during the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico

6. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)

Overview: A quietly consistent start for the two-time Tour de France podium finisher, who has been up there in every race he has entered. Fifth overall was his best-ever result at Paris-Nice, while he underlined his one-day credentials with top 10's in the Drome and Ardèche Classics. Prior to that, he was second overall at the Tour du Haut Var, behind Pinot.

It's been an all-French start to the year from the rider who emerged as the next great hope for a successor to Bernard Hinault, and a decent one at that, though no victory to speak of yet.

Highlight: Fifth overall is his best showing at Paris-Nice in his career.

Lowlight: Time trial losses at Paris-Nice - 1:15 to Simon Yates and 1:00 to Egan Bernal - suggest this could still be a fatal flaw in the Frenchman's armoury.

Up next:  Volta a Catalunya

7. Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma)

Overview: Fifth at the Tour de France last year as part of a swashbuckling Jumbo-Visma outfit, Kruijswijk leads the line this year. Primoz Roglic, one of the in-form riders of the moment along with Julian Alaphilippe, will ride the Tour but is prioritizing the Giro and insists he'll be working as a domestique for Kruijswijk in July.

Kruijswijk has only raced once so far this year, finishing third at Ruta del Sol. It was a solid display, with fifth on the punchy opening finale, fourth in the time trial, and third on the stage in the Sierra Nevada.

Highlight: Podium finish at Ruta del Sol

Lowlight: Nothing to worry about yet

Up next: Volta a Catalunya

8. Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates)

Overview: A perennial Tour de France animator who has become a consistent top 10 finisher, albeit one who feels there's more potential to exploit after some rotten luck. It has been a solid if unspectacular start to the season from the Irishman.

He finished fourth overall at the Volta a a la Comunitat Valenciana, before placing seventh at the UAE Tour, where he suffered a side stitch on Jebel Hafeet and then made a mistake in misjudging the distance to the finish on the other summit finish, Jebel Jais.

Highlight: 10th place in the Valencia time trial gave him encouragement his work against the clock was paying off.

Lowlight: UAE, a home race for his team, was frustrating, if not disheartening.

Up next: Volta a Catalunya.

9. Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

Overview: The Spaniard heads to the Tour this year, leading the line as something of a lone wolf in the QuickStep line-up, after his breakthrough podium finish at last year's Vuelta a España.

He has only raced once so far this year. Fourth overall at the Volta ao Algarve was a decent result but it wasn't a top-quality field.

Highlight: Third place atop the Alto de Foia on stage 2 in Algarve.

Lowlight: No real setbacks so far

Up next: Volta a Catalunya, Iztulia

10. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo)

Overview: The season started as it seemingly always does for Richie Porte, with victory atop Willunga Hill at the Tour Down Under. He finished second overall, pipped by Daryl Impey for a second year in a row, and went on to finish fifth at the Herald Sun Tour.

So far so good, but Porte's season took a knock after that Australian block as he came down with bronchitis. After a poor showing at the UAE Tour - 50th overall - it was decided Paris-Nice should be scrapped from his programme to allow himself to recover properly and re-set for the Volta a Catalunya.

Highlight: Victory on Willunga is getting too routine to really be considered a highlight, but still, it was his first win for his new team.

Lowlight: Illness knocked him back and forced him into a change of schedule.

Up next: Volta a Catalunya

11. Chris Froome (Team Sky)

Overview: Not a huge amount to go on. The four-time yellow jersey winner has only raced once so far this season, at the Tour Colombia, where he worked for Sky's two home riders, Ivan Sosa and Egan Bernal. He combined that race with a big training block in Colombia, and, as a result, pulled out of the UAE Tour citing a need to recover.

Up next is the Volta a Catalunya, where we should get a better indication of how he's progressing.

Highlight: His team have secured a big-money replacement sponsor for Sky.

Lowlight: Having to withdraw from the UAE Tour.

Up next: Volta a Catalunya

Chris Froome (Team Sky) enjoys the party atmosphere at the Tour Colombia presentation

12. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida)

Overview: The Italian was among the first riders to signal his intentions to attempt the Giro-Tour double. Nibali previously rode both Grand Tours as a youngster in 2008 and again in 2016, when he won the Giro and then used the Tour to prepare for the Rio Olympics. 2019 marks his first concerted tilt at the elusive double, and his early-season has been suitably low-key. He rode anonymously at the UAE Tour but showed some signs of improvement at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Nibali has remained in the headlines, of course, with speculation mounting that the 34-year-old might swap Bahrain-Merida for Trek-Segafredo in 2020. His Giro result seems pivotal to his contract negotiations, but the Tour is still an ambition. He is, after all, the only rider to have interrupted Sky's sequence of Tour wins thanks to his 2014 victory, and he will feel he has some unfinished business with La Grande Boucle after he crashed out of the race on Alpe d'Huez in 2019.

Highlight: Nibali has flown well below the radar thus far in 2019. Placing 15th overall at Tirreno-Adriatico while banking racing miles ahead of the Giro probably counts as the high point.

Lowlight: Although never expected to be in the shake-up, Nibali made no impact at Strade Bianche, where he placed 31st.

Up next: Tour of the Alps

13. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)

Overview: A fairly anonymous early-season showing from the Tour de France champion, not that he's worried. He admitted to enjoying that Tour victory to the absolute maximum and consequently he turned up for the start of the season overweight and way off his usual form (this is a rider who, in recent years, has performed strongly in the early-season stage races).

Thomas started his season with 44th at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana before a more encouraging 12th place at Strade Bianche. He was off the pace at Tirreno-Adriatico and abandoned with stomach problems on stage 4. Not a great start to the year, but still plenty of time to turn things round on his favoured training retreat of Mount Teide.

Highlight: 12th at Strade Bianche was better than expected and suggested he wasn't so far behind with his shape after all.

Lowlight: The Tirreno exit halted any momentum there.

Up next: Itzulia

14. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First)

Overview: A frustrating start to the season for the 2017 Tour de France runner up, who currently has his arm in a sling.

Things got off to a perfect start with victory on home soil as he and his EF Education First teammates won the opening team time trial at the Tour Colombia. However, he was overshadowed in the rest of the race by EF's other Colombian, the up-and-coming Dani Martínez. Paris-Nice was miserable as he struggled in the crosswinds and then broke his collarbone in a crash on stage 2.

Highlight: Victory with EF on home soil in the Colombia TTT.

Lowlight: Collarbone break.

Next up: A injury return date has not yet been confirmed.

15. Mikel Landa (Movistar)

Overview: Another from the Giro-Tour double camp. Broke his collarbone on his season debut at the Challenge Mallorca and didn't race again until Milan-San Remo, where he finished 147th, 10:18 down.

Highlight: Has been able to train, despite injury lay-off.

Lowlight: Collarbone injury suffered in his first and only race of the season so far.

Up next: Settimana Coppi e Bartali, Itzluia

Related Articles

Back to top