As we continue on into the early stages of the 2024 season, Cyclingnews looks ahead at some of the key storylines that will define the coming year in cycling.
We’re only just emerging from the depths of the winter off-season after the WorldTour’s restart with the Tour Down Under. However, even if the race lies almost seven months in the future, the Tour de France – as ever – hangs heavy over the peloton as teams and riders make their way into the 2024 season.
There may still be 91 days of WorldTour competition lying between now and the Grand Départ in Tuscany, but it’s already the most hotly anticipated in years.
Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard face off once again, while Primož Roglič’s move to Bora-Hansgrohe widens the field of top-level contenders further still. And there’s another storyline – another contender – too, with Soudal-QuickStep phenom Remco Evenepoel poised to make his Tour de France debut.
The Belgian, who turns 24 next month, may well have been co-leading Visma-Lease a Bike with Vingegaard next season had those blockbuster merger talks not broken down. But alas, the long-running Belgian team remains as one, led by Evenepoel into the new season.
The 2024 Tour is set to be the biggest mêlée over the maillot jaune for some time as Evenepoel goes head-to-head with the winners of the past four editions in Vingegaard and Pogačar as well as triple Vuelta winner Roglič.
The trio of rivals the Belgian will be facing this summer have racked up eight Grand Tour wins between them – a number that may stretch to nine with Pogačar competing at May’s Giro d’Italia. Evenepoel, the youngest of the quartet born 21 months after Pogačar, has the 2022 Vuelta to his name and has yet to come up against either of the two Tour winners at a Grand Tour.
He did have the better of Roglič in 2022, at least until the Slovenian was forced out of the race following a finishing straight crash on stage 16 in Tomares. 2023 saw him lead Roglič once again, this time at the Giro d’Italia, as he time trialled into the maglia rosa despite suffering from COVID-19 that would take him out of the race the next day.
All that history, together with that infamous collapse over the Aubisque, Spandelles, and Tourmalet on stage 13 of this year’s Vuelta, sees Evenepoel head towards his Tour de France debut as something of an underdog among the superstar class aiming at the yellow jersey.
Most onlookers, pundits, and betting sites list him as the fourth favourite among…