All year, the 2022 Tour de France has been billed as a duel between Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič, and both men duly hit their lines at their respective dress rehearsals before the main event. Roglič won a Critérium du Dauphiné dominated by his Jumbo-Visma team, while Pogačar breezed to victory at the Tour of Slovenia.
A third successive Slovenian victory at the Tour seems increasingly likely, but there are still plenty of variables between Copenhagen and Paris, not least the 20km of cobblestones on stage 5 to Arenberg. And, as last week’s cluster of COVID-19 cases at the Tour de Suisse demonstrated, variables have already shaken up the form guide ahead of this Tour.
There are question marks over the prospects of Aleksandr Vlasov and Adam Yates after they were forced to abandon in Switzerland due to COVID-19, and the risk of infection has prompted several riders to forgo plans to race this weekend’s National Championships.
The racing over the past two weeks in France, Slovenia and Switzerland, therefore, was the final real showcase ahead of the Tour. A little over a week from the Grand Départ, Cyclingnews takes a final look at the form lines, comparing to our previous rankings over the last few months, including the rising stock of Tour de Suisse winner Geraint Thomas.
Previous rank position: First
- Winner, Tour of Slovenia (2 stage wins)
- 12th, Flèche Wallonne
- Fourth, Tour of Flanders
- 10th, Dwars door Vlaanderen
- Fifth, Milan-San Remo
- Winner, Tirreno-Adriatico (2 stages)
- Winner, Strade Bianche
- Winner, UAE Tour (2 stages)
On the day before Champions League ties, teams must allow television rights holders access to at least fifteen minutes of their final training session. Pogačar’s participation in last week’s Tour of Slovenia seemed to serve the same purpose. After a lengthy stint cloistered at altitude in Livigno, his outing on home roads often felt more like the televised portion of his pre-Tour de France training than a bike race.
The field at the Tour of Slovenia was notably weaker than at the Dauphiné or Tour de Suisse, but Pogačar has already been in a race of his own so often over the past two seasons that it hardly made any difference.
He ran through the scales en route to overall victory, hitting the usual high notes without straining himself unduly. He won two stages and ceded two more to his lieutenant Rafał Majka, and they rubbed in their superiority by pretending to play rock-paper-scissors for the right to cross the line first on the toughest stage.
Pogačar was already the dominant figure through the early part of the season, and nothing in recent weeks has remotely altered his status as the overwhelming favourite to win a third successive Tour de France.
Previous rank position: Fourth
- Winner, Critérium du Dauphiné
- Eighth, Itzulia Basque County
- 17th, Milan-San Remo
- 37th. GP Denain
- Winner, Paris-Nice (1 stage)
- 28th, Drôme Classic
- 26th, Faun-Ardèche Classic
The only man with the potential to beat Pogačar in a head-to-head duel is his compatriot, and when Roglič’s challenge at Itzulia Basque Country was hindered by a nagging knee injury, one wondered if this Tour would be divested of much of its suspense before it even began.
After a long spell in Sierra Nevada, however, Roglič was back on song at the Dauphiné. His Jumbo-Visma squad dictated the terms and Roglič always looked utterly in control of all scenarios.
His contest with Pogačar in France is a fascinating prospect, particularly as they have competed against one another so sparingly since the 2020 Tour. Whatever the final result, last year’s Tour would certainly have been raced differently had Roglič not been forced out in the opening week.
Roglič will take heart from the fact that he had Pogačar’s measure in 2020 up until that fateful time trial at La Planche des Belles Filles. The problem, however, is that Pogačar looks to have moved onto another plane in the intervening period, but Roglič will hope he can still count on a stronger team than his rival.
Previous rank position: Fifth
- Second, Critérium du Dauphiné (1 stage)
- DNF, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
- DNF, La Flèche Wallonne
- Sixth, Itzulia Basque Country
- 76th, GP Denain
- Second, Tirreno-Adriatico
- Winner, Drôme Classic
- 33rd, Faun-Ardèche Classic
Vingegaard was at times even more impressive than Roglič at the Dauphiné, but rather than engender a leadership debate, his sparkling form highlighted the cards at Jumbo-Visma’s disposal. Now so much depends on how they choose to play them.
At the 2020 Tour, Jumbo-Visma had strength in numbers on every mountain stage, but they seemed to race to neutralise their rivals rather than to distance them, like a football team who dominates possession but neglects to add to the scoreboard. Roglič paid a heavy price in the final time trial on that occasion, but if they deploy Vingegaard creatively here, they have a chance of at least discommoding Pogačar.
At first glance, Jumbo-Visma’s team selection seems overly influenced by Wout van Aert’s tilt at the green jersey, with Rohan Dennis the glaring absentee. With the first week full of possible pitfalls, however, the presence of riders like Christophe Laporte, Nathan Van Hooydonck and Tiesj Benoot might be key to ensuring both Roglič and Vingegaard remain in the hunt by the time the race hits the mountains. That in turn may be crucial to their hopes of overcoming Pogačar.
Previous rank position: Second
- Eighth, Tour de Suisse
- Fourth, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
- Fifth, La Flèche Wallonne
- Winner, Itzulia Basque Country (1 stage)
- 29th, GP Denain
- Third, Paris-Nice
- Third, Volta ao Algarve
- Winner, Colombian National Championships ITT
If Pogačar is the favourite and the Jumbo-Visma tandem his biggest obstacle, then the third force at this Tour will surely be Ineos Grenadiers, even if it’s still not clear who will lead their charge in July. While Adam Yates’ coronavirus diagnosis places a question mark against his prospects, Geraint Thomas threw his hat firmly into the ring with an overall victory at the Tour de Suisse.
Across the entirety of 2022, however, Martínez has been the form rider for Ineos and his pre-Tour condition looked to be in crescendo as the Tour de Suisse drew to a conclusion. The Colombian was surprisingly eliminated from the race for overall victory when he conceded a minute on the opening day, but he put in a man-of-the-match display on Thomas’ behalf on the final summit finish at Malbun and then produced a solid time trial 24 hours later.
Meanwhile, his remarkable performances in the service of Egan Bernal at last year’s Giro, where he also placed fifth overall, strongly suggested that he had the engine for the full three weeks.
Previous rank position: Eighth
- Third, Critérium du Dauphiné
- Fifth, Tour de Romandie
- Winner, Tour de Jura
- Sixth, Classic Grand Besançon Doubs
- Sixth, Volta a Catalunya (1 stage)
- DNF, Paris-Nice
- Seventh, Ruta del Sol
The difficult second album approaches, but O’Connor increasingly looks like he has the material. The Australian enjoyed a break-out fourth place at last year’s Tour and his form through the opening half of 2022 suggests a man with the ability to confirm that result in July.
The lone stumble came at Paris-Nice, where O’Connor was forced out through illness, but he was quickly back in stride, winning a stage at La Molina at the Volta a Catalunya later the same month.
O’Connor’s upward trajectory continued to the end of the spring with victory at the Tour de Jura and 5th at the Tour de Romandie, and then he picked up where he left off at the Dauphiné, where he was the best of the rest behind Roglič and Vingegaard. The favourites won’t give him the kind of leeway he got on the road to Tignes at last year’s Tour, but on this evidence, O’Connor mightn’t need it.
Previous rank position: Third
- DNF, Tour de Suisse (1 stage)
- Winner, Tour de Romandie (1 stage)
- 14th, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
- Third, La Flèche Wallonne
- Third, Itzulia Basque Country
- Second, GP Miguel Indurain
- DNF, Paris-Nice
- Fourth, UAE Tour
- Winner, Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (1 stage win)
- 82nd, Trofeo Playa de Palma-Palma
- Third, Trofeo Pollença-Port d’Andratx
Vlasov would undoubtedly be higher on this list were it not for his positive test for COVID-19 at the Tour de Suisse. As in the case of Adam Yates, everything depends on how quickly and how well he recovers from his untimely coronavirus infection.
No matter, Vlasov remains firmly in the mix because of his previous body of work across the season, his first since swapping Astana for Bora-Hansgrohe. Victory at the Tour de Romandie, in particular, seemed to signal another leap forward from the Russian.
His stage win – and ephemeral stint in the yellow jersey – at the Tour de Suisse showed that he had timed his approach to the Tour well too. After fourth place at last year’s Giro, Vlasov had the obvious potential to finish on the podium at this Tour, but now the picture is clouded by COVID-19.
Previous rank position: N/A
- Winner, Tour de Suisse
- 19th, Tour de Romandie
- 43rd, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
- 98th, La Flèche Wallonne
- 39th, Itzulia Basque Country
- 17th, Settimana Coppi e Bartali
- 62nd, Volta ao Algarve
In the early part of this season, after a winter interrupted by shoulder surgery and COVID-19, Thomas seemed to have been edged into an almost pastoral role at Ineos, serving as a totem for the team’s influx of young British riders at races like the Volta ao Algarve and Settimana Coppi e Bartali.
All the while, however, Thomas politely insisted that he aimed to hit his best form in time for July and he was as good as his word, delivering his strongest display since the 2019 Tour to win last week’s Tour de Suisse, where he climbed with assurance and then pushed Remco Evenepoel all the way in the final time trial.
With Egan Bernal absent through injury and Adam Yates struck by COVID-19, Thomas suddenly finds himself a potential leader of Ineos’ Tour challenge. Thomas turned 36 in May and only one rider in history, Firmin Lambot, has won the Tour at that age, but that hasn’t stopped the bookmakers from rapidly slashing the Welshman’s odds this week.
“I’m surprised and amazed by how Geraint is riding at the moment,” Evenepoel said admiringly in Switzerland. “I think he’s going to be really ready for the Tour. He looks very good.”
Previous rank position: 11th
Haig’s 2022 results
- Fifth, Critérium du Dauphiné
- 11th, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
- 41st, La Flèche Wallonne
- 31st, Amstel Gold Race
- DNF, Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
- Sixth, Paris-Nice
- Sixth, Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol
Caruso’s 2022 results
- Fourth, Critérium du Dauphiné
- Sixth, Tour de Romandie
- 41st, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
- 91st, La Flèche Wallonne
- Winner, Giro di Sicilia (2 stages)
- 15th, Milan-San Remo
- Seventh, Tirreno-Adriatico
- 13th, Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol
It’s difficult to separate Caruso and Haig, who each shook off their previous existences as deluxe domestiques to finish on the podium of Grand Tours for the first time last season. The Bahrain Victorious riders have continued to score results in parallel through the opening half of 2022, most recently at the Dauphiné, where they placed fourth and fifth overall.
After spending their careers largely in the service of others, neither man appears particularly pushed about claiming the honorific title of team leader. Haig and Caruso dovetailed well in the Alps and should do so again at the Tour. The road, it seems, will decide the rest.
Since May of last year, Bahrain Victorious have morphed into one of the strongest teams in the peloton and they will again line up in France with a squad of considerable depth. On paper, neither Haig nor Caruso would expect to go toe-to-toe with Pogačar or Roglič. In practice, however, Bahrain Victorious could wind up having an outsized impact on this race.
10. Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers)
Previous rank position: Sixth
- DNF, Tour de Suisse
- DNF, Itzulia Basque Country
- Fourth, Paris-Nice
- Second, UAE Tour
As with Vlasov, Yates’ COVID-19 case means that his stock has fallen in our final pre-Tour ranking, but, unlike the Russian, his position might also be under threat within his own team in the wake of Thomas’ Tour de Suisse victory.
Yates hadn’t raced since his abandon at Itzulia Basque Country, but while he looked assured on the opening day in Switzerland, he had to leave the race before he could offer a more tangible confirmation of his pre-Tour form.
For now, Ineos and Yates’ primary focus will be on ensuring he recovers sufficiently to race the Tour. Even if he does, logic suggests the Briton would be more vulnerable than Thomas or Martínez in the opening phase of the race. His prospects will only become clear at La Planche des Belles Filles.
Previous rank position: Seventh
- Seventh, Route d’Occitanie
- DNF, Tour of Turkey
- Fourth, Volta a Catalunya
- Fifth, Paris-Nice
- Winner, Tour du Var (1 stage)
- Winner, Tour de la Provence (1 stage)
There are shades of 2020 about Quintana’s campaign to date. Back then, in his first season in Arkéa-Samsic colours, Quintana looked to have turned back the clock with a series of searing climbing displays early in the year on French roads, but he never came close to replicating those performances when the season resumed after the first COVID-19 lockdown.
This year, with Arkéa-Samsic chasing promotion to the WorldTour, Quintana made another fast start, notching up stage wins at the Tour de la Provence and Tour du Var. He was solid at Paris-Nice and in Catalunya too, but there was little stardust on show at the recent Route d’Occitanie.
He hadn’t raced since abandoning the Tour of Turkey, mind, and his form should be on the rise, but it’s difficult to envisage a podium challenge materialising.
Previous rank position: 12th
Gaudu’s 2022 results
- 17th, Critérium du Dauphiné (1 stagn)
- Third, Mercan’Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes
- 18th, Itzulia Basque Country
- DNF, Paris-Nice
- DNF, Trofeo Laigueglia
- Fifth, Volta ao Algarve (1 stage)
Pinot’s 2022 results
- 14th, Tour de Suisse (1 stage)
- 17th, Mercan’Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes
- 13th, Tour de Romandie (1 stage)
- 19th, Tour of the Alps (1 stage)
- 44th, Circuit de la Sarthe
- Eighth, Tirreno-Adriatico
- 49th, Strade Bianche
- 24th, Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var
- 11th, Etoile de Bessèges
Not for the first time since 1985, the home nation approaches the Tour more in hope than expectation. Gaudu raised hopes with his stage victory – ahead of Wout van Aert, no less – at the Dauphiné, but expectations were then quietly lowered when he cracked in the heat on the final day, dropping from sixth to 17th overall. The Breton can still shine on this Tour, but there seems to be a glass ceiling on his ambitions.
Pinot came within touching distance of winning the Tour three years ago, but he has been plagued by injury since he crashed on the opening day of the following year’s edition. He has, however, been steadily improving through 2022.
After an emotional stage win at the Tour of the Alps, he added another at the Tour de Suisse last weekend. With Pogačar and Roglič seemingly operating on another level altogether, the lie of the land is very different to 2019, of course, but Pinot’s journey, wherever it takes him, will be a most compelling part of the narrative in July. Some things never change.
One of the most intriguing names on the start list is Pinot’s compatriot Romain Bardet (DSM), who looked like a potential Giro winner until illness forced him out on stage 13. Bardet insists stage wins are the summit of his ambition here, but if he can replicate his Tour of Alps and Giro form, then a podium challenge is not beyond him.
Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) endured a difficult Giro, reaching Verona in 14th place, but he looked to be pedalling well at the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge. The Norman is a fierce competitor, and his resilience should never be underestimated.
Rigoberto Urán and Esteban Chaves are EF Education-EasyPost’s nominal GC men, but Neilson Powless, 4th overall at the Tour de Suisse, has long had potential in that domain. This might be the year of a breakthrough. Michael Woods (Israel Premier Tech) highlighted his condition with Route d’Occitanie victory, even if his stated goal is a stage win and the polka dot jersey in Paris.
By a similar token, teammate Jakob Fuglsang has similarly downplayed any GC aspirations. Enric Mas (Movistar) was solid if unspectacular early in the year, but his crash and abandon at the Dauphiné left more questions than answers ahead of the Tour.