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Form ranking: Tour de France 2022 contenders

Quintana Martinez Landa Pogacar Roglic Tour 2022 contenders
Five of the top contenders for the 2022 Tour de France 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images composite)

The Tour de France is still three and a half months away but the season is in full flow and the yellow jersey contenders have all had a chance to showcase their early form. 

What’s more, after the scattered appointments of January and February, the past week saw the world’s best riders convene in France and Italy for concurrent editions of Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico - two of the most prestigious week-long races on the calendar. 

There’s still plenty of time to rectify the situation for those who’ve had slow starts but, as one rider told us recently: "It’s never too early to win nowadays."

That’s certainly the case for the winner of the past two Tours, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), who has stormed out of the blocks with seven wins to his name already. At this point, he looks as big a favourite as you could possibly imagine. 

While Pogačar was winning Tirreno-Adriatico, his compatriot Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was winning Paris-Nice, and it’s the two Slovenians who once again top our first ‘form ranking’ of 2022. 

But who else has impressed, and who’s got ground to make up? Read on for our analysis of the riders who’ll be battling it out in July. 

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates)

Results

  • 1st, Tirreno-Adriatico (2 stage wins)
  • 1st, Strade Bianche 
  • 1st, UAE Tour (2 stage wins)

PARIS FRANCE JULY 18 Tadej Pogaar of Slovenia and UAETeam Emirates Yellow Leader Jersey celebrates at podium during the 108th Tour de France 2021 Stage 21 a 1084km stage from Chatou to Paris Champslyses Lion Mascot LeTour TDF2021 on July 18 2021 in Paris France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) claims the yellow jersey in 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The winner of the past two editions of the Tour de France has done nothing to suggest he can’t win a third. In fact, he has made that prospect feel almost like an inevitability.

With seven wins already this season – a figure many a sprinter would be proud of come the end of the campaign – Pogačar has reached a level of dominance that would seem to justify the otherwise unwelcome comparisons with the ‘Cannibal’, Eddy Merckx.

Pogačar started the year with COVID-19 but it clearly hasn’t held him back, as he went to the UAE Tour and won his team’s home race for the second year running, triumphing on both summit finishes and placing third in the time trial. 

After that, he went to Strade Bianche and attacked alone from 50km out to underline his Classics credentials after his Monument brace of 2021. And now he returns from a successful defence of his Tirreno-Adriatico crown, where he again won two stages.

He has never once looked in any trouble. He is so much better than anyone that his he often appears to be racing against himself. At the start of the season he was the overwhelming favourite for the 2022 yellow jersey, for now it’s hard to see how anyone else stands a chance.

2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)

Results

  • 1st, Paris-Nice (1 stage victory)
  • 28th, Drôme Classic
  • 26th, Faun-Ardèche Classic

AUBAGNE FRANCE MARCH 11 Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo Visma Yellow Leader Jersey crosses the finish line during the 80th Paris Nice 2022 Stage 6 a 2136km stage from Courthzon to Aubagne ParisNice WorldTour on March 11 2022 in Aubagne France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) at Paris-Nice in the yellow jersey of the race leader (Image credit: Getty Images)

Such is Pogačar’s dominance, most riders on this list could be forgiven for setting the podium as the ceiling of their ambitions this July, but Roglič is widely considered the only rider who can challenge Pogačar. That notion of a two-horse race was only strengthened by Roglič winning Paris-Nice on the same day his compatriot lifted the Tirreno trident.

Roglič once again showed he can put time into his rivals against the clock and in the mountains, while the collective strength of his Jumbo-Visma team meant he was able to strike in the crosswinds and on the punchy terrain. 

And yet, once every so often, Roglic looks exposed. While Pogačar strolled home in Italy, Roglič laboured to victory in France, where he was essentially bailed out by his teammate Wout van Aert. Having lost the title on the final day the previous year, not to mention his brutal defeat at the hands of Pogačar on the penultimate day of the 2020 Tour, a theme has definitely emerged: Roglič can be vulnerable while trying to close out a race.

And so, despite seeing off a top field to win his ninth week-long stage race of 11, it all came with a caveat, and perhaps a glimmer of hope for his rivals. He’s a clear second on the Cyclingnews list, but maybe more and more of a distant second.

3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma)

Results

  • 2nd, Tirreno-Adriatico
  • 1st, Drôme Classic
  • 33rd, Faun-Ardèche Classic

FAUN DROME CLASSIC / 27-02-2021 / PHOTO BRUNO BADE

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) celebrating the victory at La Drôme Classic 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Leading the way after the ‘big two’ is another member of one of their own teams, and therein may lie Jumbo-Visma’s greatest hope of toppling Pogačar at the Tour de France. 

Vingegaard deputised incredibly when Roglič crashed out of contention at last year’s Tour, the Dane not only going on to place second overall but also briefly dropping Pogačar on Mont Ventoux.

That might have been a flash in the pan from a 24-year-old who could need more time to embed himself as a Grand Tour contender, but so far that doesn’t appear to be the case. He won the Drôme Classic on his second race day of the season and was the ‘best of the rest’ at Tirreno. He was disappointing in the time trial – this is a rider who placed third in both Tour time trials last year – but then was runner-up behind Pogačar on the two key climbing stages.

Vingegaard has so far shown that he belongs at the top level and that Jumbo-Visma’s talk of two leaders is justified. Roglič, a three-time winner of the Vuelta, is the more obvious candidate but you feel that Jumbo-Visma’s only hope is to get creative and use both cards.

4. Daniel Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers)

Results

  • 3rd, Paris-Nice
  • 3rd, Volta ao Algarve
  • 1st, National Championships Colombia ITT

LOULE PORTUGAL FEBRUARY 20 Daniel Felipe Martinez Poveda of Colombia and Team INEOS Grenadiers competes during the 48th Volta Ao Algarve 2022 Stage 5 a 173km stage from Lagoa to MalhoLoul 514m VAlgarve2022 on February 20 2022 in Loule Portugal Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Daniel Martinez (Ineos Grenadiers) at Volta ao Algarve 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

With Pogačar having won the past two Tours, Ineos Grenadiers’ hold over the yellow jersey – after securing seven in eight years – is over, and it’s difficult to see them regaining their perch this year. 

Egan Bernal, winner of the 2019 Tour and 2021 Giro, was widely regarded as the only other rider who could be considered in the Pogačar/Roglič bracket, but he’s out for the long term after his life-threatening crash in January.

In his place, Adam Yates has seemingly been handed the reins, and it was interesting to note that Rod Ellingworth told Cyclingnews the team were ‘all-in’ for the Briton in July. 

Richard Carapaz has insisted on riding the Giro d'Italia, and at this point 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas’ role remains unclear. There has similarly been little made of Daniel Martínez, with Ineos not making any public statement about where he fits into their Grand Tour plans. However, the fact he’s down to ride this week’s GP de Denain (a cobbled semi-Classic) alongside Yates is a surefire indicator he’s brushing up ahead of the Tour’s visit to the pavé on stage 5 of this year’s race.

In his debut season for Ineos, Martínez placed fifth overall at last year’s Giro while supporting Bernal, and is considered capable of his own podium attempt. He has certainly started the season in fine form, claiming the Colombian time trial title before heading to Europe to record podiums at Volta ao Algarve and Paris-Nice.

The 25-year-old has a strong time trial in his locker (top 10 on stage 4 of Paris-Nice) and is also comfortable on big climbs (2nd on stage 7 of Paris-Nice), and may well be riding himself into a protected role this July.

5. Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers)

Results

  • 4th, Paris-Nice
  • 2nd, UAE Tour

COL DE TURINI FRANCE MARCH 12 Adam Yates of United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers competes during the 80th Paris Nice 2022 Stage 7 a 1555km stage from Nice to Col de Turini 1605m ParisNice WorldTour on March 12 2022 in Col de Turini France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) at Paris-Nice 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Yates may be the rider Ineos are backing at the Tour, according to Ellingworth, yet he’s a touch below Martínez on current form. 

Martínez was third in France and Yates was fourth – still a strong result even if he did lag behind the Colombian on the weekend’s climbs. Before that, Yates was a strong second to Pogačar at the UAE Tour, where he also reminded us that his time trialling has improved in Ineos colours.

Yates’ consistency in the past year or so has been striking. The question now is whether he can build and turn his top-fives into an assault on a major title, but he has so far underlined that he’s a classy and consistent top-level operator.

6. Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic)

Results

  • 5th, Paris-Nice
  • 1st, Tour du Var (1 stage win)
  • 1st, Tour de la Provence (1 stage win)

MONTAGNE FRANCE FEBRUARY 13 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas of Colombia and Team Arka Samsic celebrates winning during the 6th Tour de La Provence 2022 Stage 3 a 1806km stage from Manosque to Montagne de Lure 1567m TDLP22 on February 13 2022 in Montagne France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) at the Tour de la Provence (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The Colombian has finished on the Tour de France podium three times but his so-called ‘yellow dream’ has faded over a rollercoaster few years. He’s maybe not back at that old status but he has nevertheless thrown down some pretty resounding climbing performances already this season.

His start is remarkably similar to how he stormed out of the blocks in his first season with Arkéa-Samsic, winning the Tour de la Provence and Tour du Var before placing top-six at Paris-Nice. The only difference was that he didn’t win a stage at this year’s Paris-Nice, and in fact some of the gloss was taken off when he was dropped by Simon Yates, Wout van Aert, and Roglič on the Col d’Eze, even if he finished alongside all the other big names.

The pandemic curtailed Quintana’s early-season run in 2020 and he’d go on to crash out of contention at the Tour de France before undergoing knee surgery.

Is the 32-year-old about to pick up where he left off? The season so far has already shown his time trialling remains a major Achilles heel – and it’s a huge barrier in a Tour with 53km of time trialling – but there could well be some flourishes in the mountains.

7. Enric Mas (Movistar)

Results

  • DNF, Tirreno-Adriatico
  • 4th, Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
  • 12th, Trofeo Pollença-Port d'Andratx
  • 7th, Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana

CARPEGNA ITALY MARCH 12 Enric Mas Nicolau of Spain and Movistar Team crosses the finish line injured during the 57th TirrenoAdriatico 2022 Stage 6 a 215km stage from Apecchio to Carpegna 746m TirrenoAdriatico WorldTour on March 12 2022 in Carpegna Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Enric Mas (Movistar) on stage 6 at Tirreno-Adriatico 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Enric Mas didn’t finish Tirreno-Adriatico but had he done, he would have been third overall. The Spaniard was away with Jonas Vingegaard, Richie Porte and Mikel Landa as a chasing quartet behind Pogačar over the second ascent of Monte Carpegna, only to crash on the run down to the finish, taking a chunk of flesh out of his arm.

It was a mishap that deprived him of a decent result on his palmarès but won’t seriously dent his confidence or credentials for the Tour de France. Coming after a fourth-place finish at the Volta a Valencia, Mas has clearly had a good winter under his belt. 

Mas didn’t immediately find his feet at Movistar, and he hasn’t immediately kicked on from his breakthrough podium at the 2018 Vuelta, but his Grand Tour record in the past couple of years is rock solid: 5th and 6th at the past two Tours, 5th and 2nd at the past two Vueltas.

8. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious)

Results

  • 3rd, Tirreno-Adriatico
  • 32nd, Ruta del Sol

CARPEGNA ITALY MARCH 12 Mikel Landa Meana of Spain and Team Bahrain Victorious competes during the 57th TirrenoAdriatico 2022 Stage 6 a 215km stage from Apecchio to Carpegna 746m TirrenoAdriatico WorldTour on March 12 2022 in Carpegna Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) at Tirreno-Adriatico 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The Spaniard will target the Giro d’Italia before the Tour de France this season, bringing all the usual question marks, but he has outlined his intentions to target the overall title at both races and he has started out strongly.

Landa had been a quiet presence at the Ruta del Sol and indeed for much of Tirreno, until he emerged on the key mountain stage to place third. Pogačar had flown but he finished alongside Jonas Vingegaard, well clear of the rest.

It was also telling that Landa was one of the six riders able to finish alongside Pogačar on the ‘wall’ stage to Bellante.

9. Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious)

Results

  • 6th, Paris-Nice
  • 6th, Ruta del Sol

BAZA SPAIN FEBRUARY 19 LR Miguel ngel Lpez Moreno of Colombia and Team Astana Qazaqstan Jack Haig of Australia and Team Bahrain Victorious and Jefferson Alveiro Cepeda Hrnandez of Ecuador and Team Caja RuralAlea ompete in the breakaway during the 68th Vuelta A Andalucia Ruta Del Sol 2022 Stage 4 a 167km stage from Cllar Vega to Baza 836m 68RdS on February 19 2022 in Baza Spain Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Haig in action at the Ruta del Sol (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

It has been a strong start to the year for Jack Haig, with a number of positive entries on the ledger as he has always been there or thereabouts with the key favourites when the road turns up. 

At the very start of his season, on the steep twisting uphill finish to Alcalá la Real he took fourth. Then on the queen stage at Paris-Nice Haig came over the line atop Col de Turini in seventh place, ahead of both Adam Yates and Guillaume Martin. The 28-year-old Australian has also levelled up a spot on the results table with his sixth places in the opening races of the season. If that leads to another powerful performance in the lead in to the Tour, like we saw at the Critérium du Dauphiné last year, Haig is a rider that has ample potential to move up the rankings, particularly after he proved his Grand Tour bona fides with a Vuelta a España podium last year.

10. Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Results

  • DNF, Paris-Nice
  • 4th, UAE Tour
  • 1st, Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (1 stage win)
  • 82nd, Trofeo Playa de Palma-Palma
  • 3rd, Trofeo Pollença-Port d'Andratx

TORREVIEJA SPAIN FEBRUARY 05 Aleksander Vlasov of Russia and Team Bora Hansgrohe Yellow Leader Jersey prior to the 73rd Volta A La Comunitat Valenciana 2022 Stage 4 a 1931km stage from Orihuela to Torrevieja VCV2022 on February 05 2022 in Torrevieja Spain Photo by Dario BelingheriGetty Images

Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The Russian has already racked up 22 race days as he sets his sights on a Tour de France debut after two appearances apiece at the Giro and Vuelta. 

He kicked off with a podium at Challenge Mallorca before winning the uphill gravel finish at the Volta a Valenciana en route to his first overall stage race title. He was then a solid fourth at the UAE before crashing out of Paris-Nice on the final day.

At Paris-Nice, he was sitting seventh overall after the penultimate stage, although he was a relatively disappointing 12th on that Col de Turini summit finish. On the final day, he crashed on a descent and was forced to abandon, but avoided serious injury.

After that early flourish in Valencia, it’s been solid rather than spectacular, but the 25-year-old is still only in his third season at WorldTour level and is still establishing himself in the top stage racing tier.

11. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis)

Results

  • 9th, Paris-Nice
  • 2nd, Drôme Classic
  • 5th, Faun-Ardèche Classic
  • 3rd, Tour du Var
  • 22nd, GP La Marseillaise

SAINTSAUVEURDEMONTAGUT FRANCE MARCH 10 Guillaume Martin of France and Team Cofidis competes during the 80th Paris Nice 2022 Stage 5 a 189km stage from SaintJustSaintRambert to SaintSauveurdeMontagut on ParisNice WorldTour March 10 2022 in SaintSauveurdeMontagut France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) at Paris-Nice 2022 during stage 5  (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The French philosopher has had a really decent start to the season on home soil, picking up a number of top-fives. Things changed a little when he arrived at Paris-Nice and encountered a much deeper field, but he still claimed a respectable top 10.

In some ways, the season so far hasn’t shown us anything we didn’t already know. Guillaume Martin is good going uphill and downhill, and is never too shy to attack, but lacks the all-round ability needed to seriously challenge for the upper reaches of a Grand Tour general classification. 

He was 57th in the Paris-Nice time trial – the worst of the GC contenders and 1:17 down on Roglič over just 13.4km. And that was two days after he was caught out in the crosswinds on stage 2.

12. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ)

Results

  • DNF, Paris-Nice
  • DNF, Trofeo Laigueglia
  • 5th, Volta ao Algarve (1 stage win)

COL DE TURINI FRANCE MARCH 12 David Gaudu of France and Team Groupama FDJ prior to the 80th Paris Nice 2022 Stage 7 a 1555km stage from Nice to Col de Turini 1605m ParisNice WorldTour on March 12 2022 in Col de Turini France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) at Paris-Nice 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The Frenchman started out nicely with a stage win and fifth overall in a strong field at the Volta ao Algarve, but his Paris-Nice ambitions were ruined by a crash on stage 2, where he finished dead last after the race split in the crosswinds. Gaudu lumbered his way through before deciding not to start the final stage. 

He didn't do anything spectacular last year at Paris-Nice either, and also pulled the pin on the last stage, but then went on to deliver a much more solid run of results leading into the Tour. That means we won't be discounting his chances based on Paris-Nice.

13. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)

Results

  • 8th, Tirreno-Adriatico
  • 49th, Strade Bianche
  • 24th, Tour du Var
  • 11th, Etoile de Bessèges
  • 37th, GP La Marseillaise

Etoile de Besseges Tour du Gard 2022 52nd Edition 2nd stage SaintChristollesAles Rousson 156 km 03022022 Thibaut Pinot FRA Groupama FDJ photo Roberto BettiniSprintCyclingAgency2022

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) Etoile de Bessèges 2022 (Image credit: Roberto BettiniSprintCyclingAgency)

Unlike Gaudu, Pinot doesn’t have a win to his name this season, but he does have a more upward trajectory after the crucial past week. 

After an attacking display at Tour du Var, he placed 8th at Tirreno-Adriatico, which is his first WorldTour top 10 since the 2020 Dauphiné. He had a poor opening time trial and wasn’t wholly convincing on the punchy stuff in Bellante and Fermo, but the double ascent of Monte Carpegna on stage 6 was a truer test and he came through it in seventh place. He was nearly two minutes down on Pogačar, but on a similar level to plenty of big names.

Pinot's crash on the opening day of the 2020 Tour de France effectively ruined the past 18 months of his career but he now seems back on track. 

“I’ve not felt this good since the 2020 Dauphiné,” Pinot said after Tirreno, describing his morale as “nine out of 10”. 

Others have more eye-catching results but for someone with such injury troubles – plus COVID-19-related issues at the start of the year – stringing together 17 solid race days like that is a very encouraging sign indeed.

14. Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën Team)

Results

  • DNF, Paris-Nice
  • 7th, Ruta del Sol

Tour de France 2021 - 108th Edition - 20th stage Libourne - Saint Emilion 30,8 km - 17/07/2021 - Ben O'Connor (AUS - AG2R Citroen Team) - photo Tim Van Wichelen/CV/BettiniPhoto©2021

Ben O'Connor enjoyed a dream-like Tour de France in 2021 (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

O'Connor is another of the many riders within the peloton that has been struck down with flu, leaving Paris-Nice just before the climbing began and before the time trial on stage 4. 

It would have been a handy indicator to see how he stacked up in his first race against the clock this season as with all three of those on the podium at the Tour last year faster than him in the time trials its an obvious area where a bit of a step up would go a long way into turning last year's fourth-placed rider into a consistent podium contender.  

Still, seventh at Ruta del Sol was a good start to the season as was the strength on show in his attacking display on stage 4, which delivered the steepest climbs at the start of the day's racing.  

15. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan)

UBEDA SPAIN FEBRUARY 14 Alexey Lutsenko of Kazahkstan and Team Astana Qazaqstan competes in the breakaway through gravel road during the 1st Clsica Jan Paraso Interior 2022 a 1877km one day race from Baeza to Ubeda 727m ClsicaJan22 on February 14 2022 in Ubeda Spain Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan) on his way to victory at Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Results

  • DNF, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
  • 9th, Ruta del Sol
  • 1st, Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior

It still feels a little strange to feature Lutsenko as a Tour de France contender but the Kazakhstani all-rounder did finish 7th overall last year and wants to target the podium in this new career direction of his. 

It also feels a little strange that we’ve got so far down this list of big names without mentioning illness, such is the spread of flus and colds at the moment. Lutsenko is one rider who has laid low, forced to skip Paris-Nice in what is a significant setback, especially considering he has several spring Classics on his schedule.

Still, he won the new Clásica Jáen gravel race on his season debut, and then placed top-10 at Ruta del Sol, before his bad luck began with a crash at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

New teammate Miguel Angel López will also ride the Tour but has said that his main aim for the season will be the Giro d'Italia. He has podiums at the Giro and Vuelta on his palmarès, as well as a stage win at the 2020 Tour, so the Colombian is definitely one to keep in mind.

The others

There are several other team leaders who have either yet to start their seasons, yet to get up to speed, or haven't confirmed their race plans. 

These include Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), and Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies).

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.