Now, as we were saying before we were so rudely interrupted five months ago... It's the belated second installment of our 2020 Tour de France contenders form ranking.
Given the four-plus months of no racing, the fact that most of our contenders have only completed a handful of races, and the recalibration of rider goals in the wake of the mass season rescheduling, there has been a lot of movement in our top 15 since our first ranking.
We have a new name at the top, six new entries into the list, and plenty of reasoning and analysis of where the big names are right now – just under three weeks away from the start of the Tour.
There are caveats, of course. For example, riders have differing paths to hit top form ahead of September, and some have yet to restart their seasons. The main one, however, is that this is not a general classification prediction ranking.
With that in mind, read on for our second Tour de France form ranking of the 2020 season.
1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) – New entry
Best result: Fourth in 2018
Overview: Roglič has been near-untouchable since the season restart, taking Slovenia's road race title and finishing second in the time trial in June. Last week, he was dominant at the Tour de l'Ain too, winning two out of three stages and easily having the measure of Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) and Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic).
The Critérium du Dauphiné, with its five summit finishes, will be another test, although Roglič will have to be careful not to replicate his run-up to last year's Giro. There, he swept all before him, only to peak early in the race and then fade later.
If the Vuelta a España champion has learned from that experience, he should be the cast-iron favourite to break Ineos' spell of dominance and win the Tour de France.
Highlight: Dominating the Tour de l'Ain with two stage wins in three days
Lowlight: Uhh, missing out on a clean sweep with second place on stage 1?
2. Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) – 6th in March
Best result: Winner in 2019
Overview: Previously the overwhelming favourite to return to France and retain his Tour title, outside faith in Bernal might have been shaken a little after the events of the Tour de l'Ain.
The Colombian climbing prodigy looked under real pressure on the Grand Colombier, riding much of the finale at the rear of the lead group. He attacked towards the top, but Roglič beat him without ever moving into top gear.
There's still time to improve, though, with 22 days to go until the Tour's first summit finish at Orcières-Merlette. Bernal will hope that, by then, Ineos will be back in charge.
Highlight: Returning to racing with a comfortable win at the Route d'Occitanie
Lowlight: Looking distinctly second-best behind Roglič on the Grand Colombier at the Tour de l'Ain
3. Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) – 1st in March
Best result: Second in 2013 and 2015
Overview: Quintana started the season, his first at Arkéa-Samsic, with a bang, winning the Tour de la Provence, the Tour du Var and the stage 7 summit finish at Paris-Nice.
He hasn't yet hit those heights since the restart, finishing eighth at the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge and third at the Tour de l'Ain behind Roglič and Bernal. This could, however, be explained by the fact that Quintana did miss almost two weeks of training in July after being hit by a car back home in Colombia.
Another explanation could simply be that Roglič and Bernal weren't at those early-season races. Whatever the answer for Quintana's slight drop on our rankings, we'll find out more this week at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Highlight: A solid ride to the podium at the Tour de l'Ain
Lowlight: Being hit by a car while out training in early July
4. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) – 8th in March
Best result: Third in 2014
Overview: It's over a year since Pinot departed the 2019 Tour in tears, just two days from the finish and with a potential bid for overall victory still on the cards. In the lead-up to that Tour, he won the Tour de l'Ain and took fifth at the Dauphiné, and he's in good form at the moment, too.
His early season was one of steady progress – seventh at Provence, sixth at Var, fifth at Paris-Nice. He continued that at the Route d'Occitanie, finishing fourth, 37 seconds down on Bernal, and will look to keep his momentum going at the Dauphiné.
Things will be tougher at the Tour this time around, due to the packed field of contenders after the COVID-19 rescheduling. Last summer, he was up there with the best, though, putting time into Bernal on several stages. Pinot is definitely a top contender.
Highlight: Fourth at Occitanie, where he improved day by day
Lowlight: Losing 31 seconds to Bernal at that race's main summit finish
5. Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) – 9th in March
Best result: Fourth in 2017
Overview: Landa is finally free, and next month will take on the Tour as an undisputed team leader for the first time in his career. He's looking good, too, with positive results in his first two stage races for Bahrain McLaren.
Back in February, he was third at the Vuelta a Andalucía, and took second behind the prodigious Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at the Vuelta a Burgos in late July. He beat UAE Team Emirates' Fabio Aru and Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) there, but we have no reference point for his form against the biggest Tour favourites yet.
That will come at the Dauphiné, where the terrain should be very much to his liking, as it will be at the Tour. A podium there would be the dream.
Highlight: Taking second overall at the Vuelta a Burgos
Lowlight: None, really, although no doubt he'd have liked to add to his 2017 Burgos win
6. Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) – New entry
Best result: Third in 2019
Overview: Like Ineos, Jumbo-Visma have three podium contenders for the Tour de France, with Kruijswijk soaring to third overall last year as the sole leader for the Dutch outfit.
Things are different this time, of course. Kruijswijk worked for Roglič at the Tour de l'Ain – the 2020 stage race debut for the pair and Tom Dumoulin – but in September it will be the strongest man who ends up as team leader.
At the moment, that looks like being Roglič, but the 33-year-old Dutchman will be more than ready to step up if needed.
Highlight: Fourth overall at the Tour de l'Ain
Lowlight: Looks the second-strongest man on his own team
7. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) – 12th in March
Best result: Fifth in 2019
Overview: Alaphilippe has said on a number of occasions that he isn't aiming for a general classification run this year, but a rider of his ability simply can't be ruled out.
He had a mixed start to the year, abandoning the Vuelta a San Juan due to illness and then not quite matching his 2019 performances through the rest of spring. He resumed racing at Strade Bianche but fell victim to six punctures, and then narrowly missed out on retaining his Milan-San Remo title.
This week, five uphill finishes at the Dauphiné will shed more light on his climbing form and ambition, although the opening weekend of the Tour is an opportunity for him to take yellow regardless. If he gets it, will he be able to just let it go?
Highlight: Second place at Milan-San Remo
Lowlight: A puncture-ridden Strade Bianche
8. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) – 13th in March
Best result: Sixth in 2013
Overview: Like his teammate Richie Porte, Mollema has been a model of consistency – this year he has finished eighth at the Volta ao Algarve, fifth at the Route d'Occitanie, and sixth at the Tour de l'Ain.
Mollema's recent form has been stronger than some of the remaining riders on our list, but realistically he's not a true contender for the very top positions. Barring a shock, solid riding and a fourth top-10 placing should be the aim.
Highlight: Consistent rides to fifth and sixth at Occitanie and Ain
Lowlight: Looks some way off the top contenders
9. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) – 3rd in March
Best result: N/A
Overview: Something of a wildcard contender at the Tour, Pogačar certainly has the ability to fight with the very best GC riders – only his lack of experience really counts against him.
A win at the Vuelta a Andalucía and second place at the UAE Tour showed that his thrilling debut season – which included third and three stage wins at the Vuelta a España – was far from a one-off.
His recent results at Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo don't really give much of an indication as to his stage racing form right now, but he did well at both, and his class will no doubt show at the Dauphiné.
Highlight: Finishing in the lead group at Milan-San Remo
Lowlight: 13th at Strade Bianche – his only other race so far since the restart
10. Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) – New entry
Best result: Second in 2018
Overview: Dumoulin made his long-awaited return to racing at the Tour de l'Ain, over 13 months after last turning a pedal in anger for Team Sunweb. As such, his form is tough to judge, to put it lightly.
He rode well at Ain, though, taking 11th overall and finishing eighth on the hard summit finish of the Grand Colombier. Despite these relative successes, he still ended up behind three of his teammates on the final general classification.
As such – and like Chris Froome – the 2020 Tour might just come a bit too early for Dumoulin to mount a challenge for the yellow jersey.
Highlight: A successful racing comeback at Ain with 11th overall
Lowlight: Looks bottom of his team's GC pecking order right now
11. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) – New entry
Best result: Second in 2016
Overview: Bardet's eighth Tour de France will be his last with AG2R, having agreed a move to Team Sunweb for 2021. He's set to share leadership with Pierre Latour, although the differences in their palmarès suggest that Bardet will end up the main man.
What Bardet is planning – a GC assault, or a Tour more like 2019, where he slipped out of contention and recalibrated to focus on polka dots – is unclear, but his reputation demands a position on our list.
His recent form isn't too shabby, either, although an eighth place at the Route d'Occitanie isn't exactly an sign of a Tour podium. Still, whatever Bardet does, you can be rest assured that he'll draw the curtain on his time at AG2R with a bang.
Highlight: Eighth at Occitanie
Lowlight: He was some way off Bernal and Pinot at that race
12. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) – New entry
Best result: 12th in 2019
Overview: A new entry on our list and maybe a surprise to some, Martin has put in some impressive rides since joining Cofidis this year.
Third at the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, albeit 59 seconds down on the winner, is a high point of his 2020 so far. He was among the strongest at the Tour de l'Ain, taking fourth on the Grand Colombier after looking comfortable in the lead group, and finishing eighth overall.
Back in the winter, Martin said he would aim to win Cofidis' first Tour stage in 12 years, and try to make the step up from 12th into the top 10. On his current form, both certainly look possible.
Highlight: Third at the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge
Lowlight: None – the Frenchman has enjoyed a strong restart
13. Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) – New entry
Best result: Fifth in 2017
Overview: Aru has yet to show the form that made him a Vuelta winner and consistent Grand Tour contender before he suffered iliac artery problems throughout 2018, but there are positive signs.
The 30-year-old has three top 10s to his name since he got back to racing in late July. Eighth at the Vuelta a Burgos and fifth at the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge will have been encouraging; 14th on the final day at the Tour de l'Ain, less so.
Aru will be the designated leader for UAE Team Emirates at the Tour, at least according to team manager Joxean Fernández Matxin. Pogačar might have something to say about that, although it's feasible both could end up in the top 10.
Highlight: Fifth at the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge
Lowlight: Not low, as such, but his 10th overall finish at the Tour de l'Ain
14. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) – 5th in March
Best result: Fifth in 2016
Overview: Although he's not a real contender for overall victory, it wouldn't be a shock for Porte to get back into the top 10 in Paris. The Australian has looked strong since the restart, taking sixth at the Route d'Occitanie, just behind teammate Mollema.
On Mont Ventoux, he was easily second best, beating Quintana, López, Aru and more, while he was among the best on the Grand Colombier summit finish at Ain, too, finishing fifth.
With a return to Team Ineos possibly on the horizon for 2021, the Tour looks like being one last hurrah for Porte's own chances at La Grande Boucle.
Highlight: A strong second place at the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge
Lowlight: 55th on stage 2 in Ain meant he finished just 18th overall
15. Geraint Thomas & Chris Froome (Team Ineos) – 14th/15th in March
Best result: Winner in 2018 (Thomas); winner in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 (Froome)
Overview: Much has been made of the Team Ineos leadership situation in the run-up to the Tour, although this year neither has put in performances to match their teammate Bernal.
Froome has mitigating circumstances, of course, having worked his way back from his injuries at the Dauphiné last year. However, the pair have usually shown some sign of top form in the lead-up to their successful Tour campaigns, be it at the Dauphiné (four wins and a fourth place between them) or the Tour de Romandie (a win for Thomas last year).
Despite the pair acquitting themselves well in service of Bernal at the Tour de l'Ain, you'd imagine that Froome or Thomas would have to show something this week if they are to seriously challenge the Colombian, Jumbo-Visma and the other main Tour contenders.
Highlight: Putting in stints for Bernal at Occitanie and Ain
Lowlight: Both riders look some way off the level of their teammate
Adam Yates (Michelton-Scott), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Rigoberto Urán and Sergio Higuita (both EF Pro Cycling): Put simply, none of these riders have made a racing appearance since cycling restarted. They'll all get going again at the Dauphiné.
Miguel Ángel López (Astana): A quiet return to racing has seen López drop from our top 15, with a 12th place on Ventoux the highlight so far. He'll be much better comee his Tour debut next month, though, and maybe even at the Dauphiné.
Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott): The Colombian started well with fourth overall at Burgos, then taking 11th at the Tour de Pologne. Will he be a co-leader at the Tour? Or a super-domestique for Yates?
Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation): Martin has said time and again that he's not focussing on GC at the Tour this year, which is why he drops from seventh on our first form ranking. He took 17th at the Tour de l'Ain.
Alejandro Valverde, Enric Mas (Movistar): The now 40-year-old Valverde hasn't had to wait 20 race days for a win since his sophomore year all the way back in 2003, while Mas has been quiet in his debut season at the team. They finished 15th and 35th at Burgos.
Tour de France contenders at the Critérium du Dauphiné
AG2R La Mondiale: Romain Bardet
Arkéa-Samsic: Nairo Quintana
Astana: Miguel Ángel López
Bahrain McLaren: Mikel Landa
Bora-Hansgrohe: Emanuel Buchmann
Cofidis: Guillaume Martin
Deceuninck-QuickStep: Julian Alaphilippe
EF Pro Cycling: Rigoberto Urán, Sergio Higuita
Groupama-FDJ: Thibaut Pinot
Israel Start-Up Nation: Dan Martin
Jumbo-Visma: Primož Roglič, Steven Kruijswijk, Tom Dumoulin
Mitchelton-Scott: Adam Yates
Movistar: Enric Mas, Alejandro Valverde
Team Ineos: Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome
Trek-Segafredo: Richie Porte, Bauke Mollema
UAE Team Emirates: Tadej Pogačar
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Daniel joined Cyclingnews as staff writer in August 2019 after working as a freelance journalist for seven years, including time spent working for Cyclingnews and sister magazine, Procycling.
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