Tour de France 2020: The contenders
Our final form ranking ahead of the race start
We're now just days away from the start of the 2020 Tour de France (opens in new tab) – 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 (opens in new tab) – 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.
Form ranking: Tour de France contenders, part one (opens in new tab)
Form ranking: Tour de France contenders, part two (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) (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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab) (Groupama-FDJ) – Up from fourth
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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) (Team Ineos) – Down from second
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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab) (Arkéa-Samsic) – Down from third
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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) (UAE Team Emirates) – Up from ninth
Best result: N/A
Overview: Pogačar (opens in new tab) is supposedly UAE's second-in-command (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) (Bahrain McLaren) – Down from fifth
Best result: Fourth in 2017
Overview: Like Bernal, Landa's Dauphiné was disrupted by back problems (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) (Jumbo-Visma) – Up from 10th
Best result: Second in 2018
Overview: Dumoulin is a man on the rise (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab) at the Dauphiné
8. Guillaume Martin (opens in new tab) (Cofidis) – Up from 12th
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 (opens in new tab), and it looks like he can keep that form going at the Tour, too.
The 27-year-old was attacking from the lead group (opens in new tab) 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
9. Miguel Ángel López (opens in new tab) (Astana) – New entry
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 (opens in new tab).
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 (opens in new tab) (EF Pro Cycling) – New entry
Best result: N/A
Overview: In most years it would seem ridiculous to place the Dauphiné winner (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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
11. Romain Bardet (opens in new tab) (AG2R La Mondiale) – No change
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 (opens in new tab) (Trek-Segafredo) – Down from eighth
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 (opens in new tab) to challenge for victory. Mollema will be a definite contender (opens in new tab) 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
13. Emanuel Buchmann (opens in new tab) (Bora-Hansgrohe) – New entry
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 (opens in new tab), however, meant that both he and Kruijswijk left the race on stage 4, with Buchmann suffering numerous cuts and abrasions (opens in new tab).
After taking several days off the bike, he has lost preparation time for the Tour, admitting that the crash has set him back (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab) (Trek-Segafredo) – Down from 13th
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
Julian Alaphilippe (opens in new tab) (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Dan Martin (opens in new tab) (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 Urán (opens in new tab), Sergio Higuita (opens in new tab) (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 (opens in new tab) (UAE Team Emirates): He enjoyed good rides in Burgos, Ventoux and Ain, but has simply been quieter than our top 14 recently.
Adam Yates (opens in new tab), Esteban Chaves (opens in new tab) (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 Valverde (opens in new tab), Enric Mas (opens in new tab) (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 (opens in new tab) (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 (opens in new tab), Geraint Thomas (opens in new tab) (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 (opens in new tab) (Jumbo-Visma): The Dutchman fractured his shoulder in the same crash that saw Buchmann abandon the Dauphiné.
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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Prior to joining the team, he had written for most major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.
As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also runs The Leadout newsletter and oversees How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal, and he rides a Colnago C40.