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2022 Tour de France: Cyclists to watch

Our analysts break down what makes Tadej Pogacar such a complete rider -- and whether there are any vulnerabilities that could deny him a threepeat at the 2022 Tour de France.

Ten riders to watch at the Tour de France, live on NBC Sports and Peacock from July 1-24 (broadcast/streaming schedule here) …

Tadej Pogacar
UAE Team Emirates/Slovenia
2020, 2021 Tour de France winner

In 2020, Pogacar became at 21 the second-youngest winner in race history, after Henri Cornet in 1904, and the first man in more than 60 years to pedal in the yellow jersey for the first time on the final day of a Tour. In 2021, Pogacar was more dominant, taking the lead on stage eight and holding it through the end of the Tour. He won by 5 minutes, 20 seconds, the largest gap since 2014. Pogacar enters as the clear favorite to join Chris Froome as three-peat Tour de France champions in the last 27 years (not including the stripped Lance Armstong). He can also join Eddy Merckx as the only men to win the Tour in each of their first three starts. Again, the question is whether a deep team like Jumbo-Visma can find the winning strategy to take him down.

Primoz Roglic
2020 Tour de France runner-up

The converted junior champion ski jumper was the favorite to win the 2020 Tour and wore the yellow jersey in the decisive penultimate stage. But Pogacar won that crucial time trial by a monstrous 81 seconds, easily erasing the 57-second deficit to Roglic. Still, it was a historic Slovenian one-two on the podium in Paris. In 2021, Roglic withdrew before the ninth stage of the Tour after being compromised by a crash six days earlier. This year, Roglic won the Criterium du Dauphine, a key Tour lead-up race.

Jonas Vingegaard
2021 Tour de France runner-up

Assumed Jumbo-Visma’s leader role after Roglic withdrew from last year’s Tour in his second-ever Grand Tour. Performed admirably, dropping Pogacar on Mont Ventoux en route to his overall runner-up finish, well back of Pogacar. Seven years younger than Roglic, he may be not only the team’s the future, but also its present. He was second at the Dauphine behind Roglic, and they may be ticketed for co-leader roles at the Tour in an effort to dethrone Pogacar.

Geraint Thomas
Ineos Grenadiers/Great Britain
2018 Tour de France winner

Ineos isn’t the dominant force it once was. Neither is Thomas, who is 36 years old. Younger teammates Adam Yates and Dani Martinez may be better shots at the Tour podium, but Thomas is the unquestioned face of the team. He did win the Tour de Suisse, which is one of two primary Tour lead-up races along with the Dauphine. The Tour de Suisse field did not include Pogacar, Roglic or Vingegaard.

Chris Froome
Israel–Premier Tech/Great Britain
2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 Tour de France winner

The most decorated cyclist in the field with seven titles across the three Grand Tours, the last coming in 2018. Hasn’t been a general classification contender since 2019, when he broke his right femur, elbow and several ribs, was in intensive care and underwent surgery for several hours after crashing into a wall at 34 miles per hour. At 37, who knows how many Tours he has left.

Peter Sagan
Record seven-time Tour de France green jersey champion

Won his most recent green jersey title for sprinters in 2019, which was also the last time he won a stage. Withdrew from last year’s Tour before stage 12 due to a knee injury. Rival Mark Cavendish went on to win the green jersey competition, but Cavendish wasn’t selected for this year’s Tour. Withdrew from the Tour de Suisse afte testing positive for COVID-19 for a third time, though he said he didn’t have symptoms.

Fabio Jakobsen
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl/Netherlands
2021 Vuelta a Espana sprint champion

Replaced Cavendish as Quick-Step’s sprinter and may be the green jersey favorite in his Tour debut at age 25. Won five stages at the 2021 Vuelta a Espana and has 10 wins overall this year. In 2020, suffered a Tour of Poland finish line crash that resulted in him being placed in a medically induced coma. Injuries included brain and lung contusions, skull fractures, a broken nose and the loss of 10 teeth.

Wout van Aert
Six-time Tour de France stage winner

A support rider for Roglic in recent years, van Aert added green jersey ambitions this year. You have to take him seriously, given his credentials: three world titles in cyclo-cross, Olympic and world championships medals in the time trial and road race, a stage winner in each of the last three Tours and fourth in the king of the mountains standings last year. Hit one of his knees against his handlebars in a training ride 10 days before the Tour and withdrew from Belgian nationals as a precaution.

Sepp Kuss
Lone American to win Tour de France stage since 2011

There was a bit of concern that Kuss might not make Jumbo-Visma’s deep Tour de France roster. But he’s back in his usual role in support of the team leader(s) Roglic (and Vingegaard). In 2020, Kuss was often the man riding in front of Roglic on the major climbs. In 2021, the native of Durango, Colorado, won a stage after Roglic withdrew. The last time an American won a Tour stage was sprinter Tyler Farrar in 2011.

Filippo Ganna
Ineos Grenadiers/Italy
Two-time reigning world time trial champion

Succeeded Australian Rohan Dennis as the world’s top time trialist. Fifth on a hilly Tokyo Olympic course. Here, he will be favored to wear the yellow jersey in his Tour debut given the first stage is a flat time trial. Ganna is also an Olympic and world champion in track cycling in pursuit events.

NBC Sports research contributed to this report.

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