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Tour de France 2020: The contenders

roglic tour de france countdown
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) remains on top of our form ranking (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

We're now just days away from the start of the 2020 Tour de France – four, in fact. All of the warm-up races, the training and the form tapering is over and done with, and all that remains are, we hope, 21 days of racing to Paris.

Ranking the form of the top Tour GC contenders has been a tough ask thus far this season, with our first form ranking coming back in March when a number of big names had barely raced, and our second coming two weeks ago, just after the season restart.

Since then, however, we have had one more major race with which to analyse how the contenders are going: the Critérium du Dauphiné – the traditional Tour warm-up.

Performances there, along with Tour team withdrawals and non-selections, have shaken up our rankings, especially towards the bottom end.

We're not saying this is how we expect the final GC to look in Paris, though; rather, it's a snapshot of their current form, informed by past performances. With that in mind, read on for Cyclingnews' final form ranking ahead of the Tour de France.

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) – No change

Best result: Fourth in 2018

Overview: Roglič has swept all before him this summer, dominating the Tour de l'Ain before heading to the Critérium du Dauphiné and taking a commanding victory on stage 2's summit finish of the Col de Porte.

It all looked set for another overall victory before disaster struck with a crash on stage 4. Despite finishing the day, Roglič withdrew ahead of the final stage as a precaution. In contrast with teammate Steven Kruijwsijk, his injuries looked limited to road rash and cuts, although it's not an ideal way to prepare for the Tour.

Still, nobody has looked close to being able to beat him so far. There has been talk of him peaking too early, but any confirmation of that theory will have to wait until mid-September – should he recover from his crash injuries in time.

Highlight: That stage win on the Col de Porte

Lowlight: Missing out on an overall Dauphiné victory due to his crash

2. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) – Up from fourth

MEGEVE FRANCE AUGUST 16 Thibaut Pinot of France and Team Groupama FDJ Breakaway during the 72nd Criterium du Dauphine 2020 Stage 5 a 1535km stage from Megeve to Megeve 1458m dauphine Dauphin on August 16 2020 in Megeve France Photo by Justin SetterfieldGetty Images

Groupama-FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot looks to be hitting top form at just the right time (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Best result: Third in 2014

Overview: Pinot has climbed our rankings once more, steadily improving race-by-race. He finished second at the Dauphiné and was best of the rest behind Roglič on the summit finishes of stages 2 and 3.

Stage 5 was less positive, though. Heading into the final day as de facto race leader after Roglič's withdrawal, Pinot and his Groupama-FDJ squad weren't able to control proceedings on a wild mountain stage as Ineos or Jumbo-Visma might. 

The 30-year-old put up a valiant fight into Megève, but had to settle for second overall. Still, last year showed he could fight for overall Tour victory, and on his current form, he deserves this number-two spot.

Highlight: The closest to Roglič in the first half of the Dauphiné

Lowlight: Losing his grasp on overall victory on the final day

3. Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) – Down from second

Team Ineos rider Colombias Egan Bernal 2ndL wearing the best youngs white jersey rides during the second stage of the 72nd edition of the Criterium du Dauphine cycling race 135 km between Vienne and Col de Porte near Sarcenas on August 13 2020 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

Egan Bernal among his Team Ineos teammates at the Dauphiné (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Best result: Winner in 2019

Overview: After a promising season restart at the Route d'Occitanie, things haven't quite gone to plan for Bernal recently. He was distinct second-best to Roglič at Ain, and then seemed further off the pace at the Dauphiné.

A back problem, which saw him leave the race after stage 3, looked to be the source of his woes. The question now is: will it be sorted for the Tour?

One thing that has been sorted is his undisputed team leadership after Ineos boss Dave Brailsford left Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas out of the Tour team. Pavel Sivakov and (possible leader-in-waiting) Richard Carapaz will step up to support the Colombian.

Highlight: No more questions about team leadership

Lowlight: Poor performances and back pain at the Dauphiné

4. Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) – Down from third

Criterium du Dauphine 2020 72nd Edition 2nd stage Vienne Col de Porte 135 km 13082020 Nairo Quintana COL Team Arkea Samsic photo Luis Angel GomezBettiniPhoto2020

Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) battling on stage 2 of the Dauphiné (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Best result: Second in 2013 and 2015

Overview: Yet another big name who didn't finish the Dauphiné, Quintana once again didn't look quite his early season best at the race. A "severe pain" in the same knee that was injured when a car hit him during training in July saw him abandon during the final stage.

He lay seventh overall before leaving the race, finishing with Bernal on stages 2 and 3 – both Colombians shedding time due to their injuries. As with his compatriot, the main question for Quintana will now be how well he can recover in time for the Tour.

Highlight: Since the restart – third at the Tour de l'Ain

Lowlight: That potentially problematic knee injury could hold him back

5. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) – Up from ninth

Team UAE Emirates rider Slovenias Tadej Pogacar R climbs during the fifth stage of the 72nd edition of the Criterium du Dauphine cycling race 153 km between Megeve and Megeve on August 16 2020 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogačar is hitting form ahead of his Tour debut (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Best result: N/A

Overview: Pogačar is supposedly UAE's second-in-command for the Tour, behind Fabio Aru, although that now looks less likely than ever after taking fourth at the Dauphiné.

A bad day saw him lose a minute to Roglič and 50 seconds to eventual winner Dani Martínez (EF Pro Cycling) on stage 2, although he improved as the week passed. On stage 5, he was among the attackers late on, finishing third in Megève. His Tour debut will be a venture into the unknown, but he's surely a podium contender.

Highlight: A strong finish to the Dauphiné

Lowlight: Shedding that time on stage 2 may have cost him the win

6. Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) – Down from fifth

Criterium du Dauphine 2020 - 72th Edition - 5th stage Megeve - Megeve 153,5 km - 16/08/2020 - Mikel Landa (ESP - Bahrain - McLaren) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/BettiniPhoto©2020

Mikel Landa will enjoy undisputed team leadership at Bahrain McLaren for the Tour (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Best result: Fourth in 2017

Overview: Like Bernal, Landa's Dauphiné was disrupted by back problems. He may have ended up 18th overall, but was lying in fourth before stage 5. Who knows what was on the cards before the back pain hit?

It's tough to balance these positions when we don't have a full picture of what a rider is capable of right now, but Landa looked slightly better than the next riders on this list. In addition, he'll have the full Bahrain McLaren team behind him at the Tour, as well as the experience of challenging for podium spots, which can't be said about the next two men.

Highlight: Hanging with the best for much of the Dauphiné

Lowlight: A tough final day ruined by a back injury

7. Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) – Up from 10th

MEGEVE FRANCE AUGUST 15 Tom Dumoulin of The Netherlands and Team Jumbo Visma Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo Visma Yellow Leader Jersey Public Fans during the 72nd Criterium du Dauphine 2020 Stage 4 a 1533km stage from Ugine to Megeve 1458m dauphine Dauphin on August 15 2020 in Megeve France Photo by Justin SetterfieldGetty Images

Tom Dumoulin working for Jumbo-Visma team leader Primož Roglič at the Dauphiné (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Best result: Second in 2018

Overview: Dumoulin is a man on the rise, improving from 11th at Ain to seventh at the Dauphiné. He was fifth on the final day, leading home what remained of the big GC contenders to take his best summit-finish result yet.

At the moment, he's still in the role of 'hyper-domestique' to Roglič, although he and Roglič will head up the undisputed strongest team in the race in France. Both men could win the race, which is something you'd be hard pushed to say about any other teams after the Ineos rejig.

Highlight: Riding into form and improving every race day

Lowlight: Co-leaders Kruijwsijk and Roglič crashing at the Dauphiné

8. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) – Up from 12th

Team Cofidis rider Frances Guillaume Martin R rides during the fifth stage of the 72nd edition of the Criterium du Dauphine cycling race 153 km between Megeve and Megeve on August 16 2020 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

Cofidis leader Guillaume Martin (right) impressed at the Dauphiné to take third overall (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Best result: 12th in 2019

Overview: Martin looks to have stepped up a level since moving from Circus-Wanty Gobert to Cofidis, and he's been even better since the restart. The Dauphiné, where he finished third, was the best stage race of his career, and it looks like he can keep that form going at the Tour, too.

The 27-year-old was attacking from the lead group behind Roglič on the Col de Porte, in the lead group the next day, and right behind Pinot on the final day. He finished 12th at last year's Tour, and you wouldn't bet against him finishing in the top 10 this time.

Highlight: The entire Dauphiné

Lowlight: N/A

9. Miguel Ángel López (Astana) – New entry

MEGEVE FRANCE AUGUST 15 Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno of Colombia and Astana Pro Team Alejandro Valverde Belmonte of Spain and Movistar Team Louis Meintjes of South Africa and NTT Pro Cycling Team Geraint Thomas of The United Kingdom and Team INEOS Peloton during the 72nd Criterium du Dauphine 2020 Stage 4 a 1533km stage from Ugine to Megeve 1458m dauphine Dauphin on August 15 2020 in Megeve France Photo by Justin SetterfieldGetty Images

Astana’s Miguel Angel López is improving race by race (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Best result: N/A

Overview: López hadn't shown much in his first few races since the season restart, but at the Dauphiné he showed that he's ready for his Tour debut.

The Colombian was consistent rather than outstanding en route to fifth place, 1:38 down on Martínez, but the result was a big improvement from his showings at Occitanie and Ventoux. He looks to be aiming for a form peak at the Tour, and should have a chance of adding to his Giro and Vuelta podium places.

Highlight: A solid showing at the Dauphiné

Lowlight: Has yet to put in a display that would make his rivals fearful

10. Daniel Martínez (EF Pro Cycling) – New entry

Team Education First rider Colombias Daniel Martinez celebrates his overall leaders yellow jersey on the podium at the end of the fifth stage of the 72nd edition of the Criterium du Dauphine cycling race 153 km between Megeve and Megeve on August 16 2020 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT POOL AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATPOOLAFP via Getty Images

EF Pro Cycling’s Dani Martínez took his biggest career win at the Dauphiné (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Best result: N/A

Overview: In most years it would seem ridiculous to place the Dauphiné winner this low; five of the previous eight Dauphiné winners have gone on to win the Tour, after all.

But Martínez isn't a 'typical' Dauphiné winner. At 24, he's still young, and, although he's put in a number of impressive performances in week-long stage races, his best Grand Tour result from four to date was 36th at the 2018 Tour.

His Dauphiné win was fantastic, taking advantage on the chaotic final stage to out-fight and out-think far more experienced stage racers, but it would be a surprise if he's a top contender at the Tour. We'll see how EF shake out after their two presumptive team leaders flattered to deceive.

Highlight: Winning the Dauphiné

Lowlight: N/A

11. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) – No change

Criterium du Dauphine 2020 72th Edition 5th stage Megeve Megeve 1535 km 16082020 Romain Bardet FRA AG2R La Mondiale photo Luis Angel GomezBettiniPhoto2020

AG2R’s Romain Bardet looks solid, if unspectacular, ahead of the Tour (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Best result: Second in 2016

Overview: Bardet was sixth overall at the Dauphiné – a rock-solid ride without really looking like threatening the top steps of the podium at any point. At the moment, it looks like it'll be the same story for the Frenchman at the Tour, too.

It's his last Tour with AG2R La Mondiale, of course, so he'll be looking to go out with a bang. Whether that's a GC challenge or stage-victory bids is yet to be seen, but whatever the aim, Bardet still looks a step behind the Bernals and Rogličs of the peloton.

Highlight: A solid, if unspectacular, ride at the Dauphiné

Lowlight: Avoided the crashes and injuries that have hit other contenders

12. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) – Down from eighth

COMO ITALY AUGUST 15 Bauke Mollema of The Netherlands and Team Trek Segafredo during the 114th Il Lombardia 2020 a 231km race from Bergamo to Como ilombardia IlLombardia on August 15 2020 in Como Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) put in a valiant defence of his title at Il Lombardia (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Best result: Sixth in 2013

Overview: Mollema rode well at Occitanie and Ain, but with the Dauphiné clashing with Il Lombardia – which he won in 2019 – he was in Italy rather than facing off against the packed field in France.

He put in a strong title defence, finishing fourth in Como, but both he and Trek-Segafredo teammates Giulio Ciccone and Vincenzo Nibali lacked that last few per cent to challenge for victory. Mollema will be a definite contender for another spot in the second half of the Tour top 10, but missing the Dauphiné made it tough to compare with his competition.

Highlight: A gutsy defence at a tough edition of Il Lombardia

Lowlight: N/A

13. Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) – New entry

Team Bora rider Germanys Emanuel Buchmann is helped by a staff member after a crash during the fourth stage of the 72nd edition of the Criterium du Dauphine cycling race 153 km between Ugine and Megeve on August 15 2020 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

Bora-Hansgrohe’s Emanuel Buchmann is helped to his feet after the crash that ended his Dauphiné (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Best result: Fourth in 2019

Overview: Buchmann finished fourth at the Tour last year, but has been consigned to the lower reaches of our rankings thus far. The German has only had 10 race days this season, and only got back to racing at the Dauphiné.

He looked class there, though, and was immediately ready to battle for the podium. A crash on the descent of the Col du Plan Bois, however, meant that both he and Kruijswijk left the race on stage 4, with Buchmann suffering numerous cuts and abrasions.

After taking several days off the bike, he has lost preparation time for the Tour, admitting that the crash has set him back, adding that he'll take the race "day by day".

Highlight: He was in contention for the podium at his first race in eight months

Lowlight: A crash at the Dauphiné has thrown off his Tour preparation

14. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) – Down from 13th

Criterium du Dauphine 2020 - 72th Edition - 5th stage Megeve - Megeve 153,5 km - 16/08/2020 - Richie Porte (AUS - Trek - Segafredo) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/BettiniPhoto©2020

Trek-Segafredo’s Richie Porte has been dependable in his racing since the restart (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Best result: Fifth in 2016

Overview: It's maybe a tad harsh on Porte, but there are so many contenders in this field that some riders will get placed unfairly. His season restart began well with second at the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge and fifth on the Grand Colombier at the Tour de l'Ain, while at the Dauphiné he was there or thereabouts until the final day.

He lay eighth overall before taking it easy on the road to Megève, losing 12 minutes. As with Ain, where he lost 13 minutes before the Grand Colombier, he seems to be selectively testing himself ahead of the Tour. At this point, we know what to expect from Porte and Mollema there.

Highlight: More solid riding at the Dauphiné

Lowlight: N/A

Honourable mentions

Team Deceuninck rider Frances Julian Alaphilippe crosses the finish line of the second stage of the 72nd edition of the Criterium du Dauphine cycling race 135 km between Vienne and Col de Porte near Sarcenas on August 13 2020 Photo by Justin Setterfield POOL AFP Photo by JUSTIN SETTERFIELDPOOLAFP via Getty Images

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) at the Critérium du Dauphiné (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation): Like Martin, who is fighting to be fit for the race, Alaphilippe has fallen out of our top 14 upon his insistence that he won't race for GC at the Tour. He was 24th at the Dauphiné.

Rigoberto UránSergio Higuita (EF Education First): Unlike teammate Martínez, the more GC-proven duo rode to 22nd and 64th (after a stage 2 crash) at the Dauphiné. Which of the trio will lead EF in France?

Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates): He enjoyed good rides in Burgos, Ventoux and Ain, but has simply been quieter than our top 14 recently. 

Adam Yates, Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott): Yates, about to ride his Tour for the Australian team, finished 17th at the Dauphiné – his only race since the restart. Chaves hasn't seen any action since Pologne.

Alejandro ValverdeEnric Mas (Movistar): In light of the Dauphiné, little has changed for the Spanish duo. They finished 12th and 20th respectively, and currently don't look like overall threats.

Richard Carapaz (Team Ineos): An unexpected call-up to the Tour, he could take over if Bernal has problems – assuming he has the form after basing his year around a Giro d'Italia defence.

Out of the Tour

Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos): The two men, winners of five of the past seven Tours, were left out of the new-look Ineos Grenadiers after sub-par showings at the Dauphiné.

Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma): The Dutchman fractured his shoulder in the same crash that saw Buchmann abandon the Dauphiné.

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Daniel Ostanek

Daniel Ostanek has been a staff writer at Cyclingnews since August 2019, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later part-time production editor. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.

Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.