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What the Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse results tell us about the Tour de France

Derek Gee has the same chances of winning as Landa and Carapaz

Photo by: Sirotti

In 12 days the 111th Tour de France holds its Grand Départ in Florence, Italy, a no-fooling-around medium mountain stage with seven categorized climbs over 206 km. The two traditional warm-up stage races, the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse, were won by riders who have stood on Tour de France final podiums. What can be concluded from these two eight-stage contests regarding the upcoming Biggest Race in the World?

Derek GeeCee

Note: Israel-Premier Tech has not released an official Tour lineup, but Derek Gee and Hugo Houle have been on procyclingstats’ start list since June 3.

How astonishing it was to watch Derek Gee go from raider extraordinaire to GC man at the Dauphiné. A stage win, a day in yellow and a podium—not too shabby. Not only was he one of the best climbers in the race, he was also one of the best time trialists. Since Matthew Riccitello is off to the Vuelta a Espana, and Stephen Williams has cooled off significantly since he took the Tour Down Under, Gee goes into the Tour as Israel-Premier Tech’s hottest stage racer.

This means that in his debut Tour he won’t be hopping into the breakaways like he did at the 2023 Giro d’Italia. More’s the pity.

Right now, Gee’s odds of winning the Tour are 10,000 to one, the same as Mikel Landa, Richard Carapaz and Tao Geoghegan Hart. He must be in the conversation for the final GC top-10.

Gee resplendent in yellow after his Dauphine stage victory. Photo: Sirotti

UAE Team Emirates will be by far the strongest team

Tadej Pogačar is the clear favourite to win the race, which will give him a hat trick of yellow jerseys. He utterly dominated the Giro d’Italia and has won every race he entered this year bar Milan-San Remo, where he was third.

The Slovenian brings the strongest team. Adam Yates, third place in last year’s Tour, and João Almeida tore up the Tour de Suisse, winning two stages a piece and finishing one-two on the podium. Juan Ayuso took the Itzulia Basque Country crown, raced to fifth in the Tour de Romandie and was eighth in the Dauphiné before not starting Stage 6, having been one of the unfortunates who crashed hard on Stage 5.

One online betting site has Pogačar, Yates, Almeida and Ayuso all in the top 8 riders with the best odds to win the Tour. UAE-Emirates is a real Murderer’s Row and it should boss the Tour.

Ayuso hoists celebratory cheese after seizing the Tour de Romandie lead. Photo: Sirotti

An American is Visma-Lease a Bike’s best GC chance

We’ll find out this week if reigning champ Jonas Vingegaard will participate, but make no mistake about it—the Dane will not be the force he was in the last three Grande Boucles. Vuelta champion Sepp Kuss was 38th in the Dauphiné when he did not start the final stage, this after 41st in Itzulia Basque Country. He’s not on top form.

It doesn’t help things that two of their designated Tour men, Steven Kruijswijk and Dylan van Baarle, crashed out of the Dauphiné and won’t be on the start line in Florence.

Visma-LAB’s new American acquisition Matteo Jorgenson won Paris-Nice and would have won the Dauphiné if it was one kilometre longer. He is the Dutch-registered squad’s best GC hope.

Jorgenson delivered in his first stage race with Visma.

Remco Evenepoel starts the Tour below 100 per cent

After taking the Dauphiné lead by winning the time trial, Evenepoel crashed on Stage 5 and was dropped on the final climbs of both Stages 6 and 7. The 2022 Vuelta winner even lost a spot on the final stage. The Dauphiné is the only racing the Belgian has under his belt since the infamous Itzulia Basque Country mass carnage that burdened him with clavicle and scapula fractures.

The question is how much the 2022 world champion’s condition can improve over the three weeks from the end of the Dauphiné to the Tour’s Italian start. Stages 1 and 2 get down to climbing business right away and the Galibier arrives on Stage 4; it’s not the kind of Grand Tour in which a rider can race into form and vie for the trophy.

Slovenian vs. Slovenian

After a mediocre (for him) Paris-Nice start to his stint with Bora-Hansgrohe, soon to be Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe (sure to be called just Red Bull by most), Primož Roglič improved enough to be in the lead of the Itzulia Basque Country when he crashed out with Vingegaard and Evenepoel. The least injured of the three, his performance at the Dauphiné was impressive until the last climb, where he almost lost the title.

Primož Roglič took two Dauphine stage wins and the title.

Roglič is a 34-year-old four-time Grand Tour winner who is the most accomplished stage racer in the men’s peloton over the last seven seasons. But he’s running out of time to take a yellow jersey home. He came closest in 2020 before his compatriot Pogačar turned a 57-second deficit into a 59-second lead with a mind-blowing, penultimate-day time trial.

With strong support from Aleksandr Vlasov, who is having a fine season, and Jai Hindley, Roglič, as in 2020, should be Pogačar’s main rival and will likely stand on the final podium in Nice. Whether it’s on Step 1, 2 or 3 we’ll know in 34 days.