100 days until the Tour de France: How the contenders are shaping up

How are the leading GC riders looking a century away from the biggest bike race of them all?

A image with the leading GC contenders for the Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Big news on a cold Thursday morning: it is officially 100 days until the Tour de France. Now I know most of you already knew this, tearing off page after page from your Christian Prudhomme-themed Tour countdown calendar, but for those that didn't, there is your big news. Just a century of days until the peloton rolls out of Bilbao on Saturday 1 July.

Therefore, we thought this would be the perfect time to assess the runners and riders that will likely take to the start line of the 110th edition of the race, all of whom will harbour some hope of pulling on the yellow jersey 23 days later in Paris. This is the Cycling Weekly power list.

There are three former winners on this list, although one of the trio is at a very different stage of their career from the others. There is also a Tour de France debutant, alongside the next great hope of French cycling.

These are seven riders assumed to be riding the Tour - the Giro d'Italia has taken away some of the world's top cyclists - but we will update this in the months leading up to the biggest race of all as form becomes clear, and start lists too. 

1. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)

Pogačar Paris-Nice wins again

(Image credit: Getty/Alex Broadway)

Age: 24
Nationality: Slovenian
Tour de France appearances: 3
Tour de France overall wins: 2
Tour de France stage wins: 9
Best GC position: 1st

Almost indisputably the best bike rider in the world, Tadej Pogačar has started his 2023 season as he means to go on. The UAE Team Emirates rider has won nine times, including a very impressive performance at Paris-Nice which saw him win three out of seven stages on the way to overall victory.

2022 saw Pogačar not win the Tour de France for the first time, as he missed out to his biggest rival, Jonas Vingegaard. This year he is looking to bounce back, and already started that by comprehensively beating Vingegaard at Paris-Nice, but there is a long way and and a lot of racing to go until Bilbao.

The Slovenian's calendar is busier than his other rivals, due to his class in one-day racing; he will compete at the Tour of Flanders next weekend. This is not necessarily a red flag, but the addition of some Classics to his schedule might mean more of a risk of accident and injury. However, the supremely-skilled bike handler will probably be fine.

If his form keeps up, Pogačar will be the one to beat for a third year in a row.

2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma)

Jonas Vingegaard

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Age: 26
Nationality: Danish
Tour de France appearances: 2
Tour de France overall wins: 1
Tour de France stage wins: 2
Best GC position: 1st

The reigning Tour de France champion, Jonas Vingegaard, will be the man with "1" on his back in Bilbao, and will have a target on him too, as his rivals seek to surmount the man who seemed unbeatable last July.

The Dane is less of a serial winner than Pogačar, but that will not matter once the two compete on the roads of Spain and France this summer; his Jumbo-Visma team insists that he is going in the right direction and that everything points towards Paris.

His failure to land a blow on Pogačar at Paris-Nice is not a disaster, but it cannot help his morale that he was overcome, even if it was in the less crucial March and not July. The way he cracked on stage four is a cause for concern.

Ultimately, though, Vingegaard managed his whole 2022 season around peaking at the Tour, and will hope to do the same again this year. A difficult one to predict.

3. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ)

David Gaudu

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Age: 26
Nationality: French
Tour de France appearances: 5
Tour de France overall wins: 0
Tour de France stage wins: 0
Best GC position: 4th

Is this the year for David Gaudu and France? Whisper it quietly, but... maybe. 

At Paris-Nice, the 26-year-old took a big step forward, finishing on the podium in the starry company of Pogačar and Vingegaard. This was his second WorldTour podium, after the UAE Tour in 2019, and his first in Europe, the first that one feels really matters.

It was not just the result which impressed, but the manner with which Gaudu rode. He was able to attack on stage four to La Loge des Gardes, even if he was eventually beaten by Pogačar, and on stage seven to the Col de la Couillole, he was the only rider able to follow the Slovenian, and again finished second.

At last year's Tour, Gaudu finished fourth, a stellar result, but he was six minutes off Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) in third, and 11 minutes behind Pogačar in second. This year, it feels like something has changed.

Podium potential, and maybe more. Just maybe.

4. Enric Mas (Movistar)

Enric Mas at Tirreno-Adriatico

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Age: 28
Nationality: Spanish
Tour de France appearances: 4
Tour de France overall wins: 0
Tour de France stage wins: 0
Best GC position: 5th

The idea that Enric Mas is one of the best Grand Tour riders in the peloton seems a bit odd, but it's true. The Movistar rider has finished second at the Vuelta a España three times, and has twice finished in the top ten at the Tour de France.

Solid if unspectacular, the Spaniard is one of the best placed to take advantage should one of the above blow up or crash out, and should never be discounted for sneaking onto the podium. 

It is his ability against the top, top riders that are under question, however, with his ability to make it count against the likes of Pogačar or Vingegaard unknown at best.

His start to 2023 has again been solid, with top tens at both the Ruta del Sol and Tirreno-Adriatico setting him up well, but he is yet to properly make his mark.

5. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Jai Hindley

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Age: 26
Nationality: Australian
Tour de France appearances: 0
Tour de France overall wins: 0
Tour de France stage wins: 0
Best GC position: n/a

The reigning Giro d'Italia champion heads north (well, west) to take on the Tour de France for the first time, in his sixth year as a professional. It will be some baptism of fire for the Australian, but he will feel ready for the big challenge.

At the Giro last year Hindley successfully saw off Richard Carapaz, Mikel Landa and Vincenzo Nibali, but the level at the Tour will be a big step up, and it will be interesting how he matches up against the big two at the top of this list.

The makeup of his Bora-Hansgrohe team will be intriguing; if Sam Bennett and a leadout man are included in the eight-rider squad, then it might squeeze out domestiques there to help Hindley out. 

So far this year he has failed to sparkle, but has instead eased into the season. Fourth place on stage three of the Volta a Catalunya on Wednesday might point to things to come, however.

6. Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën)

Ben O'Connor

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Age: 27
Nationality: Australian
Tour de France appearances: 2
Tour de France overall wins: 0
Tour de France stage wins: 1
Best GC position: 4th

Not just the second consecutive Australian on this list, but the second man from Perth, Ben O'Connor will be hoping his third crack at the Tour de France goes better than his second - last year ended in abandonment after a series of crashes early in the race.

Instead, he will hope to recapture the form which led him to fourth place in 2021, a result that really put him on the map of contenders for the overall at Grand Tours.

Third place at the Critérium du Dauphiné and eighth place at the Vuelta a España last year meant 2022 was not a disappointment, and O'Connor is firmly a man for the top ten, but can he go higher?

2023 has been reasonably quiet so far, with sixth place on GC at the Tour Down Under followed by 13th at Tirreno-Adriatico, but the 27-year-old could be building slowly.

7. Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers)

Egan bernal

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Age: 26
Nationality: Colombian
Tour de France appearances: 3
Tour de France overall wins: 1
Tour de France stage wins: 0

Where to begin with Egan Bernal? One of the three former Tour de France champions on this list, one of only two to have won multiple Grand Tours, the man who was supposed to be the biggest thing in cycling ever.

The problems did not begin with his horrendous training crash last year, but that is the root of his biggest issues at the moment. Bernal could have died after colliding with a bus while training in Colombia at the beginning of 2022, and the fact he is even riding a bike at all is remarkable, let alone racing at the top end.

His Ineos Grenadiers team are being tight-lipped about his chances of riding the Tour, but the truth is, they don't have too many other standout options to make a tilt at GC in July. Would it be too much to expect Bernal to be thrown in and compete? Yes, probably, but we do not know where he will be at come July. If he can just recapture just an ounce of the form that saw him win the Tour and Giro, then it might just be a magical three weeks for him.

Five more Tour de France GC contenders

Simon Yates

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's pretty arbitrary to set these riders away from the seven above, and it seems harsh to place Bernal above some of the next names, but this is an arbitrary ranking.

Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) is set to make his sixth appearance at the Tour de France this summer, a race he won two stages at in 2019, and finished seventh at in 2017. The man from Bury is a Vuelta a España winner and so should be treated with caution by the others. Second at the Tour Down Under and fourth at Paris-Nice hinted at being in a good place this year.

The last great hope of French cycling before Gaudu, Romain Bardet (DSM) will line up for his tenth Tour, six years after his last podium finish at the Grand Tour. He looked to be flying in 2022 before illness upset his Giro d'Italia challenge, so he will be hoping to regain that form before July. He finished sixth last year, too, which is nothing to be sniffed at.

Another French top 10 contender is Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), who always seems to be there, without ever threatening the highest step. The 29-year-old is yet to make a mark on this season, but he will definitely be among the group of leaders at the Tour.

At a new team, Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) might just find the same legs which led him to Giro d'Italia glory in 2019. Looking pretty in pink yellow, blue, and red, the Ecuadorean will have the support of Rigoberto Urán at the Tour, with the South American pair hoping to forge a new GC partnership at the race.

Dani Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers) is the British squad's other Colombian GC option. He is a definite top ten option, but does not seem to match up when the likes of Pogačar or Vingegaard are brought into play.

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