Can Lizzie Deignan bag another Monument? Cycling Weekly’s big predictions for the 2024 season

It is time for our writers to look into their crystal balls and give their predictions for the season ahead

Lizzie Deignan
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The festive period is well and truly in the past and the new WorldTour season is already underway. 

Kicking things off once again is the Santos Tour Down Under which is currently taking place in Adelaide, Australia on Friday. With that in mind, all of us at Cycling Weekly have been pulling on our thinking caps and coming up with a list of predictions for the upcoming action. 

Unlike last year’s slightly more audacious predictions, in which our former news editor, Vern Pitt, made the call that Jonas Vingegaard won’t win a race, we've made an effort to rein in our imaginations this time round. 

If you have a particular view on how the 2024 season will pan out, or a prediction you'd like to share with us, feel free to email tom.thewlis@futurenet.com. 

Tadej Pogačar will win the Giro d'Italia - James Shrubsall

Tadej Pogačar in the white jersey

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Slovenian star knows exactly what it takes to hit top form in late spring – see Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2021 or last year's Amstel Gold Race for proof.

But he'll have more than the Ardennes Classics on his mind this April, as he gears up for what will be a first tilt at the Giro d'Italia, set to start in Veneria Reale, just outside Turin on May 4.

The Italian Tour is part of a Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double that Tadej Pogačar has lined up for this summer. Should he manage to succeed in winning this highly sought-after pair, he will be the first rider to do so since Marco Pantani in 1998 and become only the eighth rider in history.

Predicting that Pogačar will manage this might be a step too far – it's certainly not impossible but would require so many stars to align that it would feel like little more than pub chat at this stage. But the Giro? I would be surprised not to see Pogačar wearing rosa in Rome.

This far out, the provisional start list for the race is skeletal to say the least. But on current best predictions there is only one rider who can beat Pogačar in a Grand Tour – a certain diminutive Dutchman who, as far as we know, won't be troubling him at the Giro d'Italia.

The UAE Team Emirates rider's biggest rival to be named so far is perhaps Geraint Thomas – second last year by just 14 seconds and who may feel he has unfinished business. Thomas, who will celebrate his 38th birthday on the race's final mountain stage, is unlikely to worry Pogačar though, and the Slovenian has pencilled in a cracking support team including Jay Vine and Rafał Majka, who has six Grand Tour top-10s of his own under his belt.

What's more, this being the Slovenian's debut ride at the bella corsa, he's likely to be super-motivated and confident. Not unbeatable, but not far off.

 SD Worx will be even more dominant - Tom Davidson

Lotte Kopecky

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There’s an ominous feeling around SD Worx ahead of the new cycling season. It’s like waiting for a dam to burst. The water’s there, it’s building up, and as soon as it finds a crack, it’ll break through and destroy everything in its path. 

That was what happened last year, anyway. The Dutch squad were unstoppable, a torrent sweeping through the calendar, filling out podiums and toppling other riders’ dreams. 

The team managed a whopping 62 victories in 2023, mostly thanks to Demi Vollering, Lotte Kopecky and Lorena Wiebes. Now, there’s a feeling they’ll do it all again. 

After all, who will challenge them? Annemiek van Vleuten gave them the best run for their money last year, the Dutchwoman winning two of the major tours in the Vuelta Femenina and the Giro d’Italia Donne. But Van Vleuten has now retired, and I can’t see anyone else on the same level. 

Maybe this will be the year Lidl-Trek’s Gaia Realini makes her name. Or perhaps Juliette Labous will go on a winning spree for dsm-firmenich PostNL. Could Kasia Niewiadoma pip Vollering to the yellow jersey at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift?

For the neutral fan, a break in the dominance would probably be welcome. Don’t bet on it, though. If this season plays out how I expect it to, SD Worx could push the 70 mark for race wins.

Primož Roglič will win the Tour de France - Tom Thewlis

Primoz Roglic

(Image credit: Bora-Hansgrohe)

Once he had been left out of last year’s Tour de France squad, it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before Primož Roglič’s residency at Jumbo-Visma came to an end. The Slovenian was never going to sit on the sidelines and show a willingness to play second fiddle to Jonas Vingegaard. 

And why should he? Roglič is undoubtedly one of the best Grand Tour GC riders currently on the WorldTour and deserves the opportunity to have another shot at Tour glory. As is well documented, Roglič came agonisingly close to a maiden Tour win in 2020 before he was beaten in that time trial on the Planche des Belles Filles. 

Now he’s moved on to pastures new with Bora-Hansgrohe, and I think this summer will be when he finally exorcises the ghosts of 2020 and pulls on the yellow jersey in Paris for his first ever Tour win. 

Roglič’s Giro win last year seems to have filled him with an even bigger hunger for Grand Tour dominance. As well as the Giro, the 34-year-old won pretty much every stage race he started last season and is more than ready for another shot at the Tour. 

Considering the talents of his competitors - particularly Remco Evenepoel - some may say that age is against Roglič. However, that thought won’t even enter the Slovenian’s head. 

He is a Swiss army knife of a cyclist: he can time trial with the best, win the toughest of mountain stages and sweep up bonus seconds on seemingly innocuous uphill finishes. With the right selection of teammates behind him, Roglič will be a force to be reckoned with this summer and I believe he could well go all the way for his new team. 

Lizzie Deignan will win one of the Monuments - Michelle Arthurs-Brennan 

Lizzie Deignan

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lizzie Deignan didn’t win a race in 2023. Considering she welcomed her son in September 2022, I would suggest that anyone who finds her lack of snap in the year that followed surprising perhaps doesn’t have the greatest understanding of what’s involved in growing a baby, birthing that baby, and going on to be a parent (in her case, of two). 

That’s not to say that some riders can’t return to their best in a short space of time, but a quiet year and a fight back to full fitness is certainly understandable. Family chicken-pox and Covid probably didn’t help, either. 

Whilst Deignan did win the Women’s Tour overall in 2019 (the year after her daughter arrived, in September 2018), her next best result was seventh at Liège–Bastogne–Liège. A year later, in 2020, Deignan won Liège, and Paris-Roubaix the year after that. 

We’ve seen the Lidl-Trek rider return to the top step of the podium, and I believe we’ll see that again, given time. There were flashes of the former World Champion’s previous dominance at the likes of the Glasgow road race; Deignan eventually settled for sixth, but only after riding an attacking race and joining a late breakaway. 

Speaking at a Lidl-Trek training camp, the 35-year-old said: “I just need to win again. Last season was my first season where I didn't have a victory. And I would like to reverse that trend. I know I can. I think a strong winter behind me is all I needed.”

Deignan already has wins at Flanders, Liège and Paris-Roubaix - the three races of the five monuments in cycling which have women’s events. The Yorkshirewoman has won all three in the past, Flanders being the most distant (in 2016), so I’ll stick my neck out and put my bets on her targeting the race at the end of March for her first win of 2024. 

Soudal Quick-Step will have another Classics season to forget - Adam Becket

Yves Lampaert at the Tour of Flanders

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Since its inception, Soudal Quick-Step, in all its iterations, have dominated the Classics, winning eight of 21 editions of the Tour of Flanders. Out of the 21 times Quick-Step have raced Dwars door Vlaanderen, the team has only finished outside of the top 10 twice.

However, 2023 was the first time since 2013 that the Belgian team did not win any race that could ostensibly be called a Classic, or a semi-Classic, or a cobbled Monument. This trend of underperformance will not change this year, or it is unlikely to, anyway.

The team synonymous with March and April's one-day races is no longer built to challenge at the Classics, that's the truth, it is a Grand Tour machine for Remco Evenepoel, who Patrick Lefevere hopes will be the future of Belgian cycling and the team.

Many of its fans remain wedded to the cobbles of Flanders and northern France, though, as does Lefevere, so it might be another tough season of adjustment for the squad and those on its roadside. 

This isn't to say the likes of Yves Lampaert, or Kasper Asgreen are bad riders, they just haven't looked capable of matching Wout van Aert or Mathieu van der Poel in recent years. The team does not have one of those talents who are almost nailed on to win a Monument, even if they do have one who is capable of winning a Grand Tour.

Wout van Aert will win Paris-Roubaix - Tom Thewlis

Wout van Aert

(Image credit: © SWpix.com)

If it wasn’t for a last minute puncture in the closing stages of the race, Wout van Aert may well have been able to mount more of a challenge at last year’s Paris-Roubaix, and could have pushed Mathieu van der Poel for the victory in the hallowed velodrome. 

Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I really believe the race would have been closer last year were it not for that late incident on the cobbletones. 

Van Aert is a former Monument winner, but the Belgian and his Visma-Lease a Bike team have long sought after a potential Roubaix or Tour of Flanders victory. With that in mind, Van Aert’s cyclo-cross schedule this winter was very reduced as he builds form to enable him to hit the ground running at the Spring Classics this year. 

It seems that his coaches are targeting a repeat of the first few weeks of the 2022 road season. Van Aert arrived mentally and physically fresh at Opening Weekend two years ago and that resulted in him soloing to an epic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad victory. 

The Belgian has just one cyclo-cross race left on his programme this winter as this year’s opening weekend draws near. 

"Last year, I found it mentally difficult to focus on the cyclo-cross season and then move on to the spring," said Van Aert previously on team. "[This year] I didn't want to leave anything to chance with the Spring Classics."

For a rider of his talents and physical capabilities, it feels like it's only a matter of time before Van Aert lands one of his most coveted prizes. I think his decision to reduce his cross programme this winter will pay off and he will take home the Roubaix title in April. 

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