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Tour de France 2022: Analysing the 10 contenders after the route reveal

Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic
Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic look like the two outstanding favourites next year (Image credit: Getty Images)

The route for the 2022 Tour de France was unveiled in Paris on Thursday, with thoughts quickly turning to which riders it will offer the greatest chance of success. 

Christian Prudhomme unveiled a parcours bookended by time trials, totalling 53km, but balanced by a heavy helping of mountains, including five summit finishes. 

The possibly windswept stages in Denmark after the Copenhagen Grand Départ and the Paris-Roubaix-inspired cobblestones on stage 5, plus the number of medium-mountain days and punchy finishes, make it a route for 'complete' riders, in the view of most observers. 

Here, we take a look at the leading 10 contenders and how they might fare. With the routes for the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España yet to be unveiled, few riders have committed to any 2022 Grand Tour plans at this point, but these are the riders most likely to be battling out for yellow next July.

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates)

  • Age: 23
  • Tour de France pedigree: Won back-to-back Tours in 2020 and 2021; the first in a nail-biting finish, the second without so much as breaking sweat.
  • What to expect:

The first week could be difficult for any of the Grand Tour leaders and, no matter how strong a team is on paper, bad luck or a lack of concentration can knock anyone off their stride. 

At this point, that’s the only major doubt over Pogacar’s credentials as the race favourite and, given his astonishing time trial performances at the Tour in the last two years, it’s hard to see past him for a third straight yellow jersey. 

What’s more, his team have ramped up their support with some key mountain domestiques signed for the new year. So even if Pogacar has a bad day – and we’re yet to see this – he’ll have raft of climbers to drag him home and limit his losses. 

Winner Team UAE Emirates Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia celebrates his overall leader yellow jersey on the podium at the end of the 21th and last stage of the 108th edition of the Tour de France cycling race 108 km between Chatou and Paris ChampsElysees on July 18 2021 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

Pogacar won his second straight title this year (Image credit: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images)

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)

  • Age: 31
  • Tour de France pedigree: Could and should have won in 2020, before crashing out of contention this year.
  • What to expect:

All being well, Roglic will head to the Tour de France as Jumbo-Visma’s leader, with Jonas Vingegaard as his wingman, meaning the pair have the potential to wrestle control away from Pogacar. 

The Jumbo-Visma duo are two of the strongest Grand Tour riders against the clock, which gives them a major advantage over most of the riders on this list, but the mountain stages within the route must also be raced aggressively. 

Specifically on Roglic, this certainly isn’t the last chance saloon when it comes to his Tour opportunities but, at 31, and with younger and younger riders continuing to impress, Jumbo-Visma will at some point need to start thinking about their long-term Tour plans. 

The 2022 route gives an in-form Roglic the chance to impress, with a steady mix of mountains and the large portion of time trialing playing to his advantage. Anything less than a podium would be a disappointment and a surprise.

Team Jumbo rider Slovenias Primoz Roglic wearing the overall leaders yellow jersey down rests after crossing the finish line at the end of the 20th stage of the 107th edition of the Tour de France cycling race a time trial of 36 km between Lure and La Planche des Belles Filles on September 19 2020 Photo by Christophe Petit Tesson various sources AFP Photo by CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSONAFP via Getty Images

Roglic suffered a crushing defeat in 2020 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers)

  • Age: 24
  • Tour de France pedigree: Won the race in 2019 but fell apart a year later due to injury and chose the Giro this year, which he won.
  • What to expect:

We can only assume, given what Bernal has said in the last few months, and the fact that he skipped the race in 2021, that the former winner will return for next year’s event. 

Winning a Giro d’Italia was a major achievement in itself and demonstrated that talk of his demise was wide of the mark but the stark reality is that unless Pogacar and Roglic both have terrible displays in the mountains or are beset by bad luck, then Bernal will struggle to win the Tour. 

He’ll concede precious seconds in the time trials and, as good as a climber as the 24-year-old is, he’s not good enough to draw back that amount of time in the mountains on Pogacar and Roglic. At best, he’ll be able to match the two Slovenians on the ascents and then try and chip away at them when the chance presents itself but riding away from them and putting minutes into them looks improbable. 

The Colombian could look to the opening week as a possible chance to utilize his team with the sort of skills that impressed in the echelon racing of the 2020 Paris-Nice. Starting somewhat as an outsider could be an advantage.

Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) will wear yellow into Paris at the Tour de France

Bernal won the Tour in 2019 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Enric Mas (Movistar)

  • Age: 26
  • Tour de France pedigree: Sixth and fifth in the last two years.
  • What to expect:

Like Bernal, Mas will shed time against the clock and hope to gain time in the mountains. And like Bernal, it’s hard to envisage the Movistar leader distancing Roglic and Pogacar with any degree of consistency. 

The Spaniard does typically come good in the third week of a Grand Tour, and that could be a major factor in the latter mountain stages and final test against the clock, while the departure of Miguel Angel Lopez can be seen as both a positive and negative. 

Mas' team for the opening week isn’t as strong as UAE, Ineos or Jumbo-Visma, so the opening stages and those cobbles could be problematic when it comes to potential pitfalls, but this a Tour de France in which Mas can realistically challenge for a podium spot.

Vuelta Espana 2021 - 76th Edition - 9th stage Puerto Lumbreras - Alto de Velefique 188 km - 22/08/2021 - Enric Mas (ESP - Movistar Team) - Primoz Roglic (SLO - Jumbo - Visma) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/BettiniPhoto©2021

Enric Mas has been consistent since joining Movistar (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious)

  • Age: 28
  • Tour de France pedigree: Crashed out in 2021 and rode as a domestique back in 2019.
  • What to expect:

It’s unclear if Haig will have a clear run at the Tour de France in 2022 or if Bahrain Victorious will hedge their bets and target stage wins while also juggling the ambitions of several potential GC leaders. That said, the Australian’s breakout performance at the Vuelta came after a setback at the Tour that left him injured and requiring surgery. 

The sheer fact he found form so quickly and put that to use with a fine third place in Spain demonstrated his talents, and while the Tour route is far from a perfect match, the former BikeExchange rider should be in the mix when it comes to a top-five or top-10 placing.

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA SPAIN SEPTEMBER 05 A general view of Enric Mas Nicolau of Spain and Movistar Team Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo Visma red leader jersey his son Levom and Jack Haig of Australia and Team Bahrain Victorious celebrate winning on the podium ceremony in the Plaza del Obradoiro after during the 76th Tour of Spain 2021 Stage 21 a 338 km Individual Time Trial stage from Padrn to Santiago de Compostela lavuelta LaVuelta21 ITT on September 05 2021 in Santiago de Compostela Spain Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Haig joined Roglic and Mas on the podium of this year's Vuelta (Image credit: Getty Images)

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma)

  • Age: 24
  • Tour de France pedigree: Second in his 2021 debut
  • What to expect:

Few, if anyone, saw Vingegaard's 2021 Tour de France performance coming but, even with Roglic leading the line at Jumbo-Visma, it’s hard to imagine the Dane simply giving up his chances at the drop of a hat. His team management will know that a collective stance might be their best chance of toppling Pogacar. 

Third in the two time trials in this year’s race, Vingegaard will create significant distance between himself and the majority of the riders on this list, while his surprise performances in the mountains highlighted his climbing capabilities. 

There’s always the second Tour syndrome to worry about, with pressure, expectancy and Roglic’s presence to deal with, but on paper the Dane looks like a top-10 contender even if he’s working for his leader.

Team Jumbo Vismas Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark wearing the best youngs white jersey reacts after crossing the finish line of the 18th stage of the 108th edition of the Tour de France cycling race 129 km between Pau and Luz Ardiden on July 15 2021 Photo by various sources AFP Photo by AFP via Getty Images

Vingegaard was the surprise package of this year's Tour (Image credit: Getty Images)

Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën Team)

  • Age: 25
  • Tour de France pedigree: Fourth in 2021, on his Tour debut no less
  • What to expect:

The time trial kilometers will dent O'Connor's challenge but aiming for another top-five ride is certainly possible. He will have to ride a slightly different race this time around given that it’s unlikely he’ll be allowed to infiltrate any breaks, but he showed in the second half of this year’s Tour that he can measure his efforts and maintain his composure when the pressure is well and truly on. 

O'Connor also has one of the most underrated teams for the opening week and so if the Classics squad that failed by and large this year can muster some cohesion and aggression, the Australian could find himself in a great position by the time the mountains come around.

TIGNES FRANCE JULY 04 Ben Oconnor of Australia and AG2R Citron Team stage winner celebrates at arrival during the 108th Tour de France 2021 Stage 9 a 1449km stage from Cluses to Tignes Monte de Tignes 2107m LeTour TDF2021 on July 04 2021 in Tignes France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

O'Connor won a stage and finished fourth overall on his Tour debut this year (Image credit: Getty Images)

Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers)

  • Age: 28
  • Tour de France pedigree: Third in 2021 was quite an achievement given how quickly the rest of the Ineos team fell apart.
  • What to expect:

We still haven’t seen the route for the Giro d’Italia and a number of riders on this list will be waiting until the off-season to pencil in their 2022 plans and Carapaz might be crossing his fingers for a return to the Giro. 

He’s a better time trialist than many give him credit for but a clearer run in Italy, with Bernal heading to the Tour, would surely be the Olympic champion’s preferred option. The first week, the stack of time trialing kilometres, might stifle the best aspects of Carapaz’s style of racing.

SAINTGAUDENS FRANCE JULY 13 Tadej Pogaar of Slovenia and UAETeam Emirates yellow leader jersey Richard Carapaz of Ecuador and Team INEOS Grenadiers at arrival during the 108th Tour de France 2021 Stage 16 a 169km stage from Pas de la Casa to SaintGaudens LeTour TDF2021 on July 13 2021 in SaintGaudens France Photo by Chris GraythenGetty Images

Carapaz was unable to dent Pogacar this year but finished on the podium (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

  • Age: 21
  • Tour de France pedigree: Yet to start
  • What to expect:

The young Belgian has yet to ride a Tour de France and came unstuck at the Giro d’Italia this year on his Grand Tour debut after needing extra time to recover from his fracture pelvis. He started with ambition and was surrounded by hype but struggled on the dirt road stage before eventually crashing and abandoning. 

Evenepoel's time trialing ability will give him a relative advantage over a number of competitors on this list but he may well go back to the Giro d’Italia for a second tilt at the maglia rosa. However the first week of Tour, with the opening time trial, followed by those clutch of stages that could blow the race apart, look ideal for the Belgian team.

LEGNANO ITALY OCTOBER 04 Remco Evenepoel of Belgium and Team Deceuninck QuickStep celebrates winning during the 102nd Coppa Bernocchi 2021 a 19715km race from Legnano to Legnano USLegnanese1913 CoppaBernocchi on October 04 2021 in Legnano Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Evenepoel's season was hampered by injury but he looks back to his best (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansrgohe)

  • Age: 30
  • Tour de France pedigree: 5th this year
  • What to expect: 

Bora-Hansgrohe's Tour squad could include the likes of Kelderman, Buchmann, Hindley and Higuita but it’s Wilco Kelderman who stands out as the best equipped to deal with the rigours of a Tour de France challenge. 

He’s consistently finished inside the top-10 of every Grand Tour he’s completed since 2017, with his only blip a DNF at the 2019 Tour. 

The time trialing kilometres give him the edge over some of his teammates – although Aleksandr Vlasov could improve against the clock following his move from Astana. 

The question mark over Kelderman is whether he can arrive at the Tour healthy and even then the odds on him crashing out are far higher with him given his bad luck and track record for hitting the deck. 

If he can navigate the first week and limit his losses in the mountains then another top-10 place is well within his grasp.

Benelux Tour 2021 - 17th Edition - 3rd stage Essen - Hoogerheide 168,3 km - 01/09/2021 - Crash - Wilco Kelderman (NED - Bora - Hansgrohe) - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/CV/BettiniPhoto©2021

Kelderman is prone to crashes (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Daniel Benson

 Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.