2024 Tour De France Cyclists

2024 Tour de France Preview: Key Contenders & Stages to Watch

BY Gordon Saur

From seasoned champions to rising stars, the 2024 Tour de France race will test every rider. You won't want to miss these key stages, intense GC battles, and emerging subplots

The Tour de France is back, and the 2024 edition promises to deliver some of the most thrilling and dramatic racing of the year. With a comprehensive and challenging route, the race will test champions looking to defend their titles and new contenders eager to make their mark. Experienced riders aim to break decades-old records, while young talent seeks their first wins on cycling’s biggest stage. Here’s what you need to know for this year’s race.

The GC Battle

The Tour de France always hinges on how well competitors prepare, but this year brings even more complications than usual. Crashes have defined the 2024 cycling season, reminiscent of the chaotic 2020 season. Key contenders Jonas Vingegaard, Primož Roglič, and Remco Evenepoel were all derailed by a crash in April’s Tour of the Basque Country, leaving only Tadej Pogačar with an unblemished preparation.

Pogačar is the man to watch. Unlike his rivals, Pogačar’s year has gone exactly to plan. However, this year he has also won the Giro d’Italia, adding more miles to his legs. The big question is whether his form will hold against rivals with less fatigue and more training time. Pogačar’s challenge for the overall victory will be tougher than ever.

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The Race Within the Race

Beyond the General Classification (GC) battle, the Tour de France is rich with subplots and secondary competitions. The 2024 route offers a balanced mix, ensuring opportunities for sprinters, climbers, and breakaway specialists alike.

Sprinting Showdown

Last year’s top sprinter, Jasper Philipsen, faces stiff competition if he hopes to dominate again. Dylan Groenewegen, Fabio Jakobsen, and the legendary Mark Cavendish—looking to break Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins—are all serious contenders. Additionally, versatile sprinters like Mads Pedersen, Biniam Girmay, Arnaud De Lie, and Wout Van Aert will aim to shine not only on flat stages but also from breakaways and reduced group sprints.

Breakaway Specialists

American riders Matteo Jorgenson and Neilson Powless may find themselves on team duty, reducing their breakaway chances. However, keep an eye on newcomers like Sean Quinn, Ben Healy, Derek Gee, and Kévin Vauquelin. All are riding their first Tour de France and have already proven they can win races. The stage wins promise excitement when the GC battle is momentarily paused.

Stages to Watch

For those who want to catch the most thrilling parts of the Tour, here are the must-watch stages:

Stage 2: Cesenatico to Bologna

While Stage 1 will surely bring its own excitement, Stage 2 will most likely deliver a more dynamic race. Starting in Italy, this stage features two laps of the San Luca climb, known in the Giro d’Italia and the Giro dell’Emilia cycling racing. Expect attacks on both ascents as GC favorites and stage hunters test their competitors. 

San Luca’s famous crowds are sure to take to the roads around Bologna, and riders will have the added adrenaline from the fans to add to the early-Tour nerves. The stage win may come from a small group sprint if no rider can distance themselves on the climb.

Stage 9: Gravel Roads Around Troyes

Put anything other than pristine pavement into the world’s biggest bike race, and there is sure to be some discussion. This year, Stage 9 will see riders face gravel farm roads around Troyes. The roads will be similar to those seen in Paris-Tours and Tro-Bro-Leon. In these races, it has often been the cobbled specialists who take the win. 

While not exactly cobblestones, gravel will still make the GC riders nervous. The stage has 13 gravel sectors, with the majority coming in the back half of the race. Any stage in which GC contenders and breakaway hopefuls have competing interests is sure to cause chaos. Add the limited line choice that farm roads can bring, and you’ll find bike racing at its most dynamic. Mechanicals could be disastrous, and good legs could be the difference between staying in the race and being cast out before the first rest day.

Stage 14: The Pyrenees Challenge

Up until this point, riders can compensate for weak legs with strong teammates and determination. With climbs over the Tourmalet, Hourquette d’Ancizan, and a summit finish on Pla d’Adet, Stage 14 is a decisive mountain stage. Time gaps will open here, and any GC hopeful must show their strength. A repeat of Julian Alaphilippe’s 2019 heroics could unfold if a non-GC rider holds the yellow jersey.

Stage 21: Monaco to Nice Time Trial

In the Tour de France, we’ll always have Paris. Well, not this year. With the French capital holding the Olympics, the Tour de France has opted to forgo the traditional laps around the Champs-Elysees. Instead, the 2024 Tour will conclude with an individual time trial from Monaco to Nice. Riders will face La Turbie and Col d’Eze before a fast descent into Nice. 

Many riders in the professional peloton call Monaco and Nice home and will have ridden these roads dozens of times. If the battle for the yellow jersey is still up for grabs at this point, expect riders to turn themselves inside out on the short climbs before taking any risk necessary on the technical descent.

This stage could determine the final GC standings, making for a nail-biting finish.


The 2024 Tour de France is set to deliver three weeks of dramatic racing, with battles for the yellow jersey and stage wins. Make sure to follow every twist and turn of this iconic race.

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Gordon Saur
About Gordon Saur

Gordon Saur is a writer with a focus on professional cycling, and the role cycling has in daily life. Born and raised in Colorado’s Front Range, sport has always been a part of Gordon’s life, and he is passionate about combining his pursuit of writing with his love for cycling. Check out his cycling adventures, thoughts in philosophy, and everything in between on his substack, Stages on Life’s Tour.

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