There are four main contenders for the 2024 Tour de France, and Rolf Aldag has been around this game long enough to know that their every move – and, above all, their every head-to-head contest – will be analysed to the nth degree all the way from here to the Grand Départ in Florence on June 29.
After sketching a rough outline of Primož Roglič’s deliberately sparse racing schedule at Bora-Hansgrohe’s media day in Palma de Mallorca on Wednesday, Aldag was keen to downplay the importance of any clashes between his new leader and the other Tour favourites in the early part of the year.
“We cannot feed the excitement of the fans and the media about ‘Wow, when are we going to see the Big Four clashing together with Primož, Jonas, Remco and Tadej?’” Aldag said.
“Where we want to clash is at the Tour de France, so it’s not really relevant if we aim for Catalunya or Pais Vasco. What’s relevant is whether the races help us towards Nice and the end of the Tour.”
After Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard presented their schedules in December, Roglič and Remco Evenepoel followed suit at their recent media days. Vinegaard, the defending champion, is the logical favourite for the Tour, of course, and the two-time champion Pogačar, his most obvious challenger, despite his participation in the Giro d’Italia.
Roglič’s reboot at Bora-Hansgrohe after his departure from Jumbo-Visma changes the dynamic of the race, however, and the Slovenian is emphatically in the hunt for overall victory. Evenepoel’s credentials are perhaps less certain, but the Belgian has every right to approach his Tour debut with the highest of ambition given his progress to this point.
The 2024 Tour has four podium favourites, in other words, each in different phases of their careers and each following his own, carefully curated path to the main event.
Each calendar comes with a caveat, of course. Last-minute changes in schedule are increasingly en vogue among the WorldTour’s big hitters – witness Roglič’s surprise late entry at Tirreno-Adriatico last year – but as the new season gets underway, Cyclingnews takes a look at four favourites’ publicly stated approaches to the Tour.
- Strade Bianche (March 2)
- Tirreno-Adriatico (March 4-10)
- Milan-San Remo (March 16)
- Volta a Catalunya (March 18-24)
- Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 21)
- Giro d’Italia (May…