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Form ranking: Tour de France 2021 contenders, pre-race

Tour de France
Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)

There's not much room for improvement now. With just over a week until the Grand Départ in Brest, there's nowhere to hide for the Tour de France yellow jersey hopefuls in terms of their pre-race form.

As ever, Cyclingnews has been running a form ranking throughout the 2021 season, assessing the overall contenders after the early-season outings, then in the spring, and now for a final time ahead of the race. 

The Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse are the traditional warm-up races and have helped establish a hierarchy, although arguably the two biggest favourites - Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič - chose not to do either. 

Form is just one factor when it comes to assessing Tour de France credentials. Reputation, pedigree, and even a rider's role in the team can be just as important, but we've attempted to stick to results and riding in setting our final ranking in stone before the riders roll out of Brest next Saturday. 

1. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)

Previous position: 2nd

Liege - Bastogne - Liege 2021 - 107th Edition - Liege - Liege 259,1 km - 25/04/2021 - Tadej Pogacar (SLO - UAE Team Emirates) - photo Peter De Voecht/PN/BettiniPhoto©2021

Pogacar won Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Results

  • 1st, UAE Tour
  • 7th, Strade Bianche
  • 1st, Tirreno-Adriatico
  • 3rd, Itzulia Basque Country
  • 1st, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • 1st, Tour of Slovenia

The defending champion is the bookmakers’ favourite for the 2021 crown and his results so far this season indicate that’s not based on status alone. The Slovenian has continued to establish himself as a dominant force, with victories in three of the four stage races he has entered and a debut Monument to his name at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The only stage race he didn’t win was the Itzulia, where he ended up working for his teammate Brandon McNulty on the final day, while his worst result of the season is technically 7th at Strade Bianche.

More recently, Pogacar has kept a relatively low profile, joining his compatriot and rival Primož Roglič in deciding not to do either of the traditional pre-Tour warm-up races - the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse – in favour of altitude training at Sestrière. However, he did resurface to win his home race, the Tour of Slovenia, and while the field was nowhere near the likes of Dauphiné and Suisse, his form was obvious in the way he put more than a minute into the field on the first moderately hilly day. 

Pogacar topped our first Tour de France form ranking but slipped back after Roglic came out on top in the Basque Country. Now, he’s clearly back on the top step.

2. Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers)

Previous position: New entry

Team Ineos Richie Porte of Australia celebrates his overall leaders yellow jersey on the podium at the end of the eighth stage on the final day of the 73rd edition of the Criterium du Dauphine cycling race a 147km between La LechereLesBains and Les Gets on June 6 2021 Photo by Alain JOCARD AFP Photo by ALAIN JOCARDAFP via Getty Images

Porte finally won the Dauphiné earlier this month (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Results

  • DNF, Paris-Nice
  • 2nd, Volta a Catalunya
  • 2nd, Tour de Romandie
  • 1st, Critérium du Dauphiné

Richie Porte was not included on the two previous editions of our form ranking, but he has become too difficult to ignore. He wasn’t included because he himself had said his leadership days were over and he was moving to Ineos to slot back into the role of super domestique. We resisted calls for Porte’s inclusion at first but he has to be part of the conversation now. 

Victory at the Dauphiné always comes with a favourite’s tag for the Tour – indeed, five of Ineos’ seven Tour wins have come after Dauphiné victory, with Wiggins, Froome and Thomas all doing the double. It may well be that Porte ends up sacrificing himself entirely for Thomas and Carapaz, and there are still legitimate question marks once races stretch beyond one week, but as it stands he can’t be counted out as a GC candidate, and on form alone, he’s right up there.

3. Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers)

Previous position: 5th

FRIBOURG SWITZERLAND MAY 02 Geraint Thomas of The United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers Yellow Leader Jersey celebrates at podium during the 74th Tour De Romandie 2021 Stage 5 a 1619km Individual Time Trial stage from Fribourg to Fribourg 614m Cheese Trophy ITT TDR2021 TDRnonstop UCIworldtour on May 02 2021 in Fribourg Switzerland Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Thomas' Romandie win was his first since the 2018 Tour (Image credit: Getty Images)

Results

  • 49th, Etoile de Bessèges
  • 26th, Tour du Var
  • 24th, Tirreno-Adriatico
  • 3rd, Volta a Catalunya
  • 1st, Tour de Romandie
  • 3rd, Critérium du Dauphiné

 The 2018 Tour de France champion is back, putting in the most sustained run of form since he won that yellow jersey on the back of the Dauphiné three years ago. Thomas finished runner-up in the Tour in 2019 but did little else that year, while last year he missed selection entirely and then crashed out of the Giro d’Italia early on. 

This year, however, after easing his way into the season, he has put together three back-to-back WorldTour stage racing podiums. He claimed his first win since the 2018 Tour at Romandie, while the ones he didn’t win were won by teammates. Despite a dodgy time trial at the Dauphiné, he claimed a crafty stage win before a strong ride to save Porte’s yellow jersey on the final day.

There’s every indication he can challenge for yellow again.

4. Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers)

Previous position: 8th

ANDERMATT SWITZERLAND JUNE 13 Richard Carapaz of Ecuador and Team INEOS Grenadiers yellow leader jersey celebrates at podium during the 84th Tour de Suisse 2021 Stage 8 a 1595km stage from Andermatt to Andermatt Trophy UCIworldtour tds tourdesuisse on June 13 2021 in Andermatt Switzerland Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Carapaz just about lifts the Tour de Suisse trophy (Image credit: Getty Images)

Results

  • 21st, Volta a Catalunya
  • 19th, Itzulia Basque Country
  • 31st, Brabantse Pijl
  • 28th, Amstel Gold Race
  • 9th, La Flèche Wallonne
  • DSQ, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • 1st, Tour de Suisse

The 2021 Tour is widely seen as a battle between Pogačar, Roglič and [insert Ineos rider]. Carapaz, fresh from his victory at the Tour de Suisse, makes it three Ineos riders up towards the very top of our ranking.

 There could be a case for the Ecuadorian to be above Thomas, given his victory in Switzerland and the quality of the field there. However, his victory was largely built on the timing of his attack on stage 4, plus he had a much slower start to the season than Thomas. Still, it’s clear that he has returned from a long training spell in Ecuador in flying form, and there’s not much to choose between the two Ineos leaders. 

Both appear ready to offer genuine shots at the yellow jersey, and the most interesting thing is they could do it in different ways, with Thomas’ ability against the clock contrasting with Carapaz’s more attacking, expansive style of racing.

5. Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma)

Previous position: 1st

La Fleche Wallonne 2021 - 85th Edition - Charleroi - Mur de Huy 193,6 km - 21/04/2021 - Primoz Roglic (SLO - Jumbo - Visma) - Julian Alaphilippe (FRA - Deceuninck - Quick-Step) - photo Nico Vereecken/PN/BettiniPhoto©2021

Roglic last raced in the Ardennes (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Results

  • 15th, Paris-Nice
  • 1st, Itzulia Basque Country
  • 69th, Amstel Gold Race
  • 2nd, La Flèche Wallonne
  • 13th, Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Last year’s runner-up is still the second favourite in the eyes of most bookmakers, and we’d agree, but he slips down the form ranking by simple reason of his absence from racing for the past 10 weeks. 

He was unable to hang with the favourites at Liège and we’ve not seen him since. The Slovenian has instead preferred to build with back-to-back clocks of altitude training, first in Sierra Nevada in Spain and more recently in Tignes in France. It seems a strange move from someone who strings together race results so consistently and someone who was dominating the Tour de l’Ain and Dauphiné ahead of last year’s Tour. 

But last year’s Tour didn’t work out in the end, and we’ll have to see what Roglič has up his sleeve. There’s no real reason to doubt his ability to contend for yellow but he’s nevertheless a bit of an unknown at the moment.

6. Miguel Ángel López (Movistar)

Previous position: New entry

Mont Ventoux Denivele Challenge 2021 - 3rd Edition - Vaison la Romaine - Mont Ventoux 153 km - 08/06/2021 - Miguel Angel Lopez (COL - Movistar Team) - photo William Cannarella/CV/BettiniPhoto©2021

López flew up Mont Ventoux (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Results

  • 35th, Tour de Romandie
  • 36th, Trofeo serra de Tramuntana
  • DNF, Trofeo Andratx
  • 1st, Ruta del Sol
  • 6th, Critérium du Dauphiné
  • 1st, Mont Ventoux Challenge

Miguel Ángel López hadn’t even made his first appearance of the season when we published our last form ranking, but he has made up for lost time and looks in very sharp form indeed. 

The Colombian’s season – his first with Movistar – was delayed due to a diagnosis of COVID-19 but after easing his way back at the Tour de Romandie, he quickly started racking up the results, winning the Ruta del Sol via victory on the major summit finish, before placing 6th in a tightly-packed top 10 among much stronger opposition at the Dauphiné. After that, he flew up Mont Ventoux, going solo some 12.5km from the summit and winning by nearly two-and-a-half minutes, with some speculation it was one of the quickest ever recorded times up the Giant of Provence. 

López has clearly found his climbing wings again but what’s interesting to note is the improvement in his time trialling. That’s what saw him drop from the podium to sixth on the final day of last year’s Tour, but he seems to have ironed out that weakness, finishing around the top 20 in the two time trials at Romandie, and at the Dauphiné, where he lost just 19 seconds to Thomas over 17km.

7. Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo)

Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo) in the Tour de Suisse time trial

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Previous position: 15th

Results

  • 37th, Etoile de Bessèges
  • 52nd, Volta a Catalunya
  • 2nd, Tour de Suisse

Rigoberto Urán is one of the big upward movers on our list, storming the rankings after an astounding time trial victory at the recent Tour de Suisse. The Colombian has had a quiet season so far, disrupted by illness, injury and the birth of his child, but his performance in Switzerland has completely altered his status in one fell swoop. It even caught his manager off guard. 

"I was talking to his coach this week and even he was trying to figure out how all the pieces came together so well considering the limitations he had," Jonathan Vaughters told us this week.

Urán quietly rolled with the favourites before unleashing a time trial ride – up and down the Oberalp Pass – that saw him win by a staggering 40 seconds. He was unable to crack Carapaz to snatch the overall title on the final day but had arguably shown his best form since the 2017 Tour de France. He finished runner-up on that occasion, and Vaughters even admitted he’s now recalibrating the team’s ambitions and approach for July.

"He was getting stronger every day at the Tour de Suisse so that only looks good for the Tour," Vaughters said.

8. Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Previous position: 7th

Criterium du Dauphine 2021 - 73rd Edition - 4th stage Firminy - Roche La Moliere 16,4 km - 02/06/2021 - Wilco Kelderman (NED - Bora - Hansgrohe) - photo Nico Vereecken/PN/BettiniPhoto©2021

Kelderman has been strong against the clock (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Results

  • 5th, Volta a Catalunya
  • DNF, Itzulia Basque Country
  • 37th, Amstel Gold Race
  • 27th, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • 10th, Tour de Romandie
  • 4th, Critérium du Dauphiné

The German has hardly lit up any races this year but he has been a solid and consistent presence, despite a disrupted year. 

He moved from Sunweb to Bora over the winter, then was set back by the car crash at the team training camp. After a top-five at Catalunya, he crashed out of Itzulia, but has more recently strung together top-10s at Romandie and the Dauphiné. At the latter, he was fourth in the time trial before finishing around most of the favourites to take home fourth overall. 

His results this season have been built on time trials rather than any big mountain attacks, but that’s fine when you consider the amount of time trialling at the 2021 Tour. What’s more, he hasn’t really struggled in the mountains and, after finishing on the podium of last year’s Giro, looks to have found the consistency needed for a GC bid.

9. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

Previous position: New entry

PFAFFNAU SWITZERLAND JUNE 08 Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep attacks during the 84th Tour de Suisse 2021 Stage 3 a 185km stage from Lachen to Pfaffnau 509m UCIworldtour tds tourdesuisse on June 08 2021 in Pfaffnau Switzerland Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Alaphilippe on the attack at Tour de Suisse (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Results

  • 2nd, Tour de la Provence
  • 57th, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
  • 2nd, Strade Bianche
  • 41st, Tirreno-Adriatico
  • 16th, Milan-San Remo
  • 22nd, Dwars door Vlaanderen
  • 42nd, Tour of Flanders
  • 6th, Amstel Gold Race
  • 1st, La Flèche Wallonne
  • 2nd, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • DNF, Tour de Suisse

The world champion is another new entry and another rider who’s not an outright contender but someone who just can’t quite be written off. The world champion may have only won twice this term, and he may have seemed short of his sparkling best, but he’s not been too far off. 

Since the Ardennes, he’s been preparing for the Tour and there were strong signs in Switzerland, where he was an attacking force on the opening stages before riding with the favourites through the mountains. He was second only to a flying Urán in the mountain time trial, and was set to clinch a spot on the final podium before he had to leave to attend the birth of his child. Alaphilippe is still not seen as a stage racer but that would arguably have been his best stage racing result with the exception of his top-five at the 2019 Tour.

 Alaphilippe will once again target the yellow jersey on the punchy opening stages but what happens next is anyone’s guess. He may well purposefully lose time and head for breakaways but he looks to be going well enough – especially against the clock – that it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him still hanging around the GC in the second half of the race.

10. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation)

Previous position: New entry

THYON 2000 LES COLLONS SWITZERLAND MAY 01 Michael Woods of Canada and Team Israel StartUp Nation sprint arrival while Geraint Thomas of The United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers Crash on final meters stage during the 74th Tour De Romandie 2021 Stage 4 a 1613km stage from Sion to Thyon 2000 Les Collons 2076m TDR2021 TDRnonstop UCIworldtour on May 01 2021 in Thyon 2000 Les Collons Switzerland Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Woods wins in Romandie as Thomas crashes in the home straight (Image credit: Getty Images)

Results

  • 2nd, Tour du Var
  • 11th, Volta a Catalunya
  • DNF, Itzulia Basque Country
  • 32nd, Amstel Gold Race
  • 4th, La Flèche Wallonne
  • 5th, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • 5th, Tour de Romandie
  • 5th, Tour de Suisse

Another new entry, Woods had played down any big ambitions for the Tour, and even doubted he’d finish it, as he set the Olympics as his season’s major target. However, the Canadian has since been announced as Israel Start-Up Nation’s GC leader. Chris Froome has ruled himself out of contention, while Dan Martin will hunt stage wins after the Giro, so both have been scrubbed off our list.

Woods is a puncheur by nature but has been going well enough on the longer climbs to suggest he could build on a Grand Tour potential that was already evident from his 7th place at the 2017 Vuelta. He won the big summit finish at Romandie – helped out by Geraint Thomas’ mishap – up at Thyon 2000, before climbing with the best at the Tour de Suisse. Time trialling remains an achilles heel – he dropped from 1st to 5th on the final day at Romandie and finished 128th on the opening day of Suisse - but going uphill Woods has struck a rich vein of form at his new team.

11. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ)

Previous position: 3rd

LA PLAGNE FRANCE JUNE 05 David Gaudu of France and Team Groupama FDJ during the 73rd Critrium du Dauphin 2021 Stage 7 a 1715km stage from SaintMartinLeVinoux to La Plagne 2072m UCIworldtour Dauphin dauphine on June 05 2021 in La Plagne France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Gaudu at the Dauphiné (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Results

  • 6th, Tour du Var
  • 1st, Faun-Ardèche Classic
  • 20th, Drôme Classic
  • DNF, Paris-Nice
  • 6th, Itzulia Basque Country
  • 34th, Amstel Gold Race
  • 7th, La Flèche Wallonne
  • 3rd, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • 9th, Critérium du Dauphiné

The Frenchman found himself right up towards the top of our previous rankings, and continued his good form with a top-10 at Flèche and a Monument podium in Liège. However, the Dauphiné has taken some of the gloss of his status as France’s latest new hope.

A top-10 at the Dauphiné – with 7th at La Plagne and 5th in Les Gets – is nothing to be sniffed at, but Gaudu was quiet throughout. He hinted at attacks in the mountains as if he’d take risks to try and break the Ineos stranglehold, but they never materialized.

He has fallen quite a way in our ranking but essentially others have caught up while he lost his edge in the Dauphiné.

12. Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën Team)

Previous position: New entry

Ben O'Connor AG2R Citröen training camp 2021

O'Connor has hit the ground running at AG2R (Image credit: Vincent Curutchet / AG2R Citröen)

Results

  • 16th, Tour de la Provence
  • 5th, Tour du Var
  • 12th, Paris-Nice
  • 23rd, Itzulia Basque Country
  • 108th, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • 6th, Tour de Romandie
  • 8th, Critérium du Dauphiné
  • 4th, Mont Ventoux Challenge

Another new entry, Ben O’Connor has earned leadership of AG2R Citroën after hitting the ground running at the French team. He was scrapping for a contract at the end of last year but his new team have been so impressed they’ve upped the basic one-year contract to a juicier three-year deal.

 The Australian has had a really consistent year – something he has struggled with since his breakthrough at the 2018 Giro. Things took off at Romandie, where he was second at the major summit finish at Thyon 2000 and secured sixth overall. He then went to the Dauphiné and placed 13th in the time trial before top-fives on the final two mountain stages. A late attack on the final stage wasn’t enough to move him up from eighth but he showed his newfound confidence with his intent.

He took that into Ventoux, where the whole team worked for him ahead of the final ascent. In the end, Lopez stole a march and was a class apart, and O’Connor was stuck with baggage in the select chase group behind, making his frustrations comically clear on the finish line. Still, he has certainly found his feet again and, at just 25, there’s still room for improvement.

13. Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious)

Previous position: New entry

Criterium du Dauphine 2021 73rd Edition 8th stage La Lechere LesBains Les Gets 147 km 06062021 Jack Haig AUS Bahrain Victorious photo Dario BelingheriBettiniPhoto2021

Haig on the move at the Dauphiné (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Results

  • 7th, Tour de la Provence
  • 30th, UAE Tour
  • 7th, Paris-Nice
  • 19th, La Flèche Wallonne
  • 17th, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • 67th, Tour de Romandie
  • 5th, Critérium du Dauphiné

The Bahrain Victorious leadership is up for grabs in Mikel Landa’s injury-enforced absence, and Jack Haig might just be the rider to do it. All eyes will be on Mark Padun after his Dauphiné brace, while Pello Bilbao and Wout Poels are capable of GC bids, but Haig impressed at the Dauphiné with fifth overall and an attack over the top of the Joux Plane.

He was also top-10 at Paris-Nice and Tour de la Provence and could certainly have a say at the Tour with his new team, where he’ll have more freedom than he did working for the Yates twins at BikeExchange.

14. Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers)

Previous position: 16th

LES GETS FRANCE JUNE 06 David Gaudu of France and Team Groupama FDJ White Best Young Jersey Wilco Kelderman of Netherlands and Team Bora Hansgrohe Miguel ngel Lpez Moreno of Colombia and Movistar Team Ben Alexander Oconnor of Australia and AG2R Citren Team Alexey Lutsenko of Kazahkstan and Team Astana Premier Tech Richie Porte of Australia Yellow Leader Jersey Geraint Thomas of The United Kingdom Tao Geoghegan Hart of United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the 73rd Critrium du Dauphin 2021 Stage 8 a 147km stage from La LchreLesBains to Les Gets 1160m UCIworldtour Dauphin dauphine on June 06 2021 in Les Gets France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Geoghegan Hart working at the Dauphiné (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Results

  • 10th, Tour du Var
  • DNF, Paris-Nice
  • DNF, Itzulia Basque Country
  • 62nd, La Flèche Wallonne
  • 35th, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • 10th, Critérium du Dauphiné

The other member of the Ineos ‘embarrasment of riches’ – in his own words – Geoghegan Hart looks furthest down the pecking order at the moment but is still going well enough after a turbulent spring. 

He suffered a concussion at Paris-Nice and failed to finish the Basque Country, followed by a couple of quiet performances in the Ardennes. Since taking a break and training at altitude in Teide, however, he has steadied the ship and showcased his strength with a top-10 at the Dauphiné. After falling short of Porte and Thomas in the time trial, he was cast in a supporting role and while he looked like he might have been the best of the three in the uphill sprint on stage 6, he lost a little time at La Plagne the following day. On the final day he worked most of the way up the Col de Joux Plane and was cruelly dropped on the false flat over the top as Thomas responded to an attack from Jack Haig.

Compared to his teammates, no one’s talking much about Geoghegan Hart, and that may be justified, but it was also the case up to the second week of last year’s Giro.

15. Enric Mas (Movistar)

Previous position: 9th

LA PLAGNE FRANCE JUNE 05 Enric Mas Nicolau of Spain and Movistar Team Miguel ngel Lpez Moreno of Colombia and Movistar Team Richie Porte of Australia and Team INEOS Grenadiers Ben Alexander Oconnor of Australia and AG2R Citren Team during the 73rd Critrium du Dauphin 2021 Stage 7 a 1715km stage from SaintMartinLeVinoux to La Plagne 2072m UCIworldtour Dauphin dauphine on June 05 2021 in La Plagne France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Mas with Lopez at the Dauphiné (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Results

  • 85th, Tour de la Provence
  • DNF, GP Miguel Indurain
  • 19th, Volta a Catalunya
  • 18th, Itzulia Basque Country
  • 3rd, Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
  • 77th, La Flèche Wallonne
  • 116th, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • 11th, Critérium du Dauphiné
  • 3rd, Mont Ventoux Challenge

 After a shaky start to the season, Mas has shown signs of improvement but is still a shadow of the rider who broke through in such style at the 2018 Vuelta. 

He was dispatched to the low-key rearranged Volta a Valencia for a confidence-boosting mission and duly won the summit finish at Alto de la Reina, but that came undone when he punctured in the final time trial and missed out on the overall title. At the Dauphiné, he had a poor time trial and lost time to all the GC contenders at La Plagne, leaving him unable to make the top-10 by the race’s conclusion. He then finished third at Ventoux but the difference between him and his teammate Lopez was stark. 

Mas looks very much like a plan B at the moment although, that being said, he did nothing of note outside the Grand Tours last year and still finished 5th in both the Tour and Vuelta.

16. Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic)

Previous position: 6th

LES GETS FRANCE JUNE 06 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas of Colombia and Team Arka Samsic during the 73rd Critrium du Dauphin 2021 Stage 8 a 147km stage from La LchreLesBains to Les Gets 1160m Public Fans UCIworldtour Dauphin dauphine on June 06 2021 in Les Gets France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Quintana in action at the Dauphiné (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Results

  • 9th, Tour du Var
  • 19th, Trofeo Laigueglia
  • 4th, GP Industria & Artigianato
  • 12th, Tirreno-Adriatico
  • 14th, Volta a Catalunya
  • 7th, Tour of the Alps
  • 1st, Vuelta Asturias
  • 18th, Critérium du Dauphiné

The Colombian looked like he was back to his formidable best in the pre-pandemic months of 2020 as he joined French second-division squad Arkéa-Samsic, but he doesn’t possess anywhere near the same form this year. He won the Vuelta Asturias but the field was far from deep and when pitted against stronger opposition and a tougher course at the Dauphiné, he left a lot to be desired. He tried a brief attack on the Col de Joux Plane but never looked like going anywhere and finished the race down in 18th place.

Quintana himself talked optimistically of getting a good week of racing in the legs before the Tour but team director Yvan Ledanois saw things differently. “We were rubbish,” he said, in quotes that were staggeringly but refreshingly published on the team’s own website. 

“Many people need to take a look at themselves. We’re not where we should be and I can’t accept it. What I’m wondering is that we’re only a couple of weeks away from the Tour, and to be here, so far from the level we should be, raises questions.”

17. Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma)

Previous position: 10th

LES GETS FRANCE JUNE 06 Steven Kruijswijk of Netherlands and Team Jumbo Visma in breakaway during the 73rd Critrium du Dauphin 2021 Stage 8 a 147km stage from La LchreLesBains to Les Gets 1160m UCIworldtour Dauphin dauphine on June 06 2021 in Les Gets France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Kruijswijk's short-lived attack on the final day of the Dauphiné (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Results

  • 29th, Paris-Nice
  • 22nd, Volta a Catalunya
  • 21st, Tour de Romandie
  • 15th, Critérium du Dauphiné

When Jumbo-Visma once again outlined their Tour de France team in the winter, they again talked of a leadership trio. Tom Dumoulin soon put his career on hold and ruled himself out of the Tour, and the performances of Steven Kruijswijk so far this year have left Roglič as their only viable option. 

5th in the Catalunya time trial is as good as it’s got for the 34-year-old, whose best stage race result was 15th at the recent Critérium du Dauphiné. Ahead of the final weekend in France, his own director said he needed to see more from Kruijswijk, suggesting the race was ‘no place to play hide and seek’. Kruijswijk attacked on the Col de Joux Plane on the final day but was soon caught and dropped, finishing more than two minutes down on the favourites.

Kruijswijk has had his problems with illness and crashes, and he was never expecting to be firing on all cylinders, but at the moment the 2019 podium finisher looks a long way from contention.

18. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis)

Previous position: 11th

LES GETS FRANCE JUNE 06 Sebastian Schnberger of Austria and Team BB Hotels PB KTM Guillaume Martin of France and Team Cofidis in the Breakaway during the 73rd Critrium du Dauphin 2021 Stage 8 a 147km stage from La LchreLesBains to Les Gets 1160m UCIworldtour Dauphin dauphine on June 06 2021 in Les Gets France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Martin at the Dauphiné (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Results

  • 16th, Faun-Ardèche Classic
  • 18th, Drôme Classic
  • 6th, Paris-Nice
  • 53rd, Milan-San Remo
  • 14th, GP Indurain
  • 31st, Itzulia Basque Country
  • 16th, Amstel Gold Race
  • 15th, La Flèche Wallonne
  • 15th, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • 1st, Classic Alpes-Maritimes
  • 20th, Critérium du Dauphiné

Guillaume Martin was one of the most talked about riders ahead of last year’s Tour, given his ride at the Dauphiné, but he hasn’t done much this year to suggest he’s any closer to being a legitimate podium or top-five contender. 

6th at Paris-Nice was a highlight, as was his win at the one-day Classic Alpes-Maritimes – his first race back after his post-Ardennes break. However, he had a poor Dauphiné, finishing well down on the time trial and struggling in the mountains to finish 20th. He crashed earlier in the race but offered “no explanations” for his performance at La Plagne. 

He declared himself disappointed with his week but declared he was “not beaten” as he prepared to train at altitude ahead of the Tour.

19. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)

Previous position: 12th

CAMPO FELICE ROCCA DI CAMBIO ITALY MAY 16 Bauke Mollema of Netherlands and Team Trek Segafredo during the 104th Giro dItalia 2021 Stage 9 a 158km stage from Castel di Sangro to Campo Felice Rocca di Cambio 1665m girodiitalia Giro UCIworldtour on May 16 2021 in Campo Felice Rocca di Cambio Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Mollema in action at the Giro (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Results

  • 65th, Etoile de Bessèges
  • 6th, Tour de la Provence
  • 3rd, Tour du Var
  • 1st, Trofeo Laigueglia
  • 18th, Strade Bianche
  • 2nd, GP Industria & Artigianato
  • 7th, GP Miguel Indurain
  • DNF, Itzulia Basque Country
  • 64th, Amstel Gold Race
  • 11th, La Flèche Wallonne
  • 8th, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
  • 28th, Giro d'Italia

After a strong start to the season, the Dutchman rode the Giro d’Italia and avoided any temptation to ride for GC as he instead hunted stage wins. That proved fruitless in the end, but the Dutchman is sticking to his plan of riding the Tour ahead of the Olympics. 

It remains to be seen what his ambitions are, but aside from Vincenzo Nibali, who struggled through the Giro, Trek don’t have another GC card. Mollema is more than capable of a consistent GC ride but with so much racing on his schedule, his form will be something of a tightrope.

20. Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Previous position: New entry

MONTE ZONCOLAN ITALY MAY 22 Emanuel Buchmann of Germany and Team Bora Hansgrohe during the 104th Giro dItalia 2021 Stage 14 a 205km stage from Cittadella to Monte Zoncolan 1730m UCIworldtour girodiitalia Giro on May 22 2021 in Monte Zoncolan Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Buchmann was going well at the Giro before his crash (Image credit: Getty Images)

Results

  • 12th, UAE Tour
  • 40th, Strade Bianche
  • 13th, Itzulia Basque Country
  • DNF, Giro d'Italia

The German has been declared fit to ride the Tour after crashing out of the Giro on stage 15. It is unlikely that he’ll challenge for GC, with Kelderman anointed leader, but stranger things have happened, and he showcased his class with fourth overall in 2019.

As Deputy European Editor, Patrick is responsible for Cyclingnews' long-form and in-depth output. Patrick joined Cyclingnews in 2015 as a staff writer after a work experience stint that included making tea and being sent to the Tour de Langkawi. Prior to that, he studied French and Spanish at university and went on to train as a journalist. Rides his bike to work but more comfortable on a football pitch.