Tour de France: 5 outsiders to watch this July

Who are the dark horses in the running to snatch a stage victory in July's Grande Boucle?

the peloton passes below the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on the final stage of the 2022 Tour de France
(Image credit: David Pintens / Getty Images)

We have all been watching with interest as teams have slowly revealed their full squads for the upcoming Tour de France. All eyes have been on the big names, the ones who will challenge for overall victory, or perhaps a record number of stage wins.

But now that every rider has been announced, it gives us a chance to sift through every name, including the lesser known ones – those who have yet to win a stage.

Which of those could finish this year's race with a new line on their palmarès as a Tour de France stage winner? Here is our pick of five outsiders to watch.

Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious)

Fred Wright on his way to second place on stage 13 of the Tour de France, 2022

(Image credit: Alex Broadway / Getty )

Best previous stage result: 2nd (2022)

Last year the Londoner was on the lookout for a first professional victory, and he came close on more than one occasion in the Tour de France with numerous displays of gutsy riding. Ultimately however, no victory materialised, and though he went on to register an impressive seven top-10s in the Vuelta a España six weeks later, he was still without a win at the end of the year.

A recent victory in the UK National Championship road race however will see Wright sporting the red, white and blue bands in this year's Tour de France. And with the confidence he will have taken from last year's Grand Tours, it feels like this is surely Wright's year to claim the stage win he deserves.

Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R-Citroën)

Aurélien Paret-Peintre drinks prosecco on the podium after winning stage four of the Giro d'Italia 2023 at Lago Laceno

(Image credit: Tim De Waele / Getty)

Best previous stage result: 7th (2021)

The 27-year-old Frenchman scored his first Grand Tour victory this year in May's Giro d'Italia. He made himself highly visible throughout the race and after winning stage four at Lago Laceno on a difficult cat-two climb to the finish, he came close again on stage 18 at Val di Zolo where he was fifth, just ahead of the main favourites group. 

Assuming the Auvergnat has recovered from his Italian travails, it feels like he is sure to challenge for a first Tour de France stage win next month.

Carlos Rodríguez (Ineos Grenadiers)

Carlos Rodríguez on stage 8 of the Critérium du Dauphiné 2023

(Image credit: Dario Belingheri / Getty)

Best previous stage result: Debutant in 2023

Last year's Spanish road champion, Carlos Rodríguez has a relatively light palmarès at this point, but it feels like this is set to change radically in the next couple of years.

Alongside Dani Martínez, he represents Ineos Grenadiers's best shot at the GC for this year's Tour de France. He recently won the youth classification at the Critérium du Dauphiné, and was ninth overall to boot.

At the Tour de France, depending on how far up the overall he scales, he is well capable of winning from a breakaway on one of the race's hillier stages. Of course, if he's anywhere near the top-10 he won't be allowed to get away, and it's harder to see him winning a stage from the favourites group. Definitely one to watch though.

Mattias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo)

Mattias Skjelmose of Trek-Segafredo is second in the Flèche Wallonne 2023

(Image credit: Luc Claessen / Getty)

Best previous stage result: Debutant in 2023

Since joining Trek-Segafredo as a stagiaire in 2020, young Dane Matthias Skjelmose's star has risen fast. He took a first pro victory in the time trial stage of last year's Tour de Luxembourg on his way to winning the GC, and since then has taken several more wins – the latest being at the Tour de Suisse, where he reprised his Luxembourg performance with a stage win and GC victory, but on a considerably higher level.

His stage wins at Luxembourg and Suisse – a flat time trial and a category-one summit finish respectively, demonstrate an all-round ability which could scare the pants off the Grand Tour GC establishment in years to come. In 2023 though, he may have to settle for stage hunting.

Georg Zimmerman (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty)

Georg Zimmermann on the way to winning stage 6 of the Critérium du Dauphiné 2023

(Image credit: Anne-Christine Poujoulat / Getty)

Best previous stage result: 6th (2022)

In-form German climber Georg Zimmermann goes to the Tour de France as part of Intermarché's renowned squad of stage hunters, with a career-best win at the recent Critérium du Dauphiné under his belt. The 25-year-old attacked from a group of escapees, eventually managing to outsprint French companion Mathieu Bergaudeau at the summit of the Crest Voland.

It will no doubt bestow confidence upon the young German for what will be his third Tour de France with the team. He has managed top-10 stage finishes on both his previous appearances – could this be the year he finally stands atop the podium?

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