The 2020 Tour de France standings were turned on their head in the final time trial on Saturday, with the youngest winner in over 100 years, Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) coming out on top.
Joining the then 21-year-old on the podium were two riders in their 30s – Primoz Roglic and Richie Porte – while the rest of the top-10 was made up of experienced team leaders and valuable super domestiques.
Cyclingnews takes a look at where the 2020 Tour de France leaves its top-10 finishers, and what now lies ahead.
Highlight of the 2020 Tour: A consistently impressive third week in which the veteran held his form while several around him began to fade. His La Planche des Belles Filles time trial performance was one of the best of his career.
Tour report: Caruso came into the Tour de France with no aspirations of his own as the Bahrain McLaren squad pinned their hopes on Mikel Landa. However, as the race evolved and Rod Ellingworth’s men began to find their legs after a bruising first week, Caruso became the benchmark for their stability in the mountains. He was consistent and dependable – two factors that define his career – and although he’s still missing a WorldTour win to his name, his reputation as a super domestique has been enhanced by his Tour performance.
Best non-Tour result of 2020: Won the Circuito de Getxo-Memorial Hermanos Otxoa in early August
Tour 2021? There are so many factors around this: not least whether Ellingworth wants to throw all his climbers into supporting Landa for the second time of asking.
Route profiles will be key, but if WorldTour points become the team’s main ambition and the team don’t think Caruso’s presence at the Tour would make the difference between Landa finishing fourth or fifth, then the Italian might be dispatched to the Giro d’Italia, where he has had top-10 success in the past.
9th: Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)
Highlight of the 2020 Tour: Several days in the yellow jersey.
Tour report: The future Ineos rider came to win stages, but other than his third place to Julian Alaphilippe and Marc Hirschi in Nice, the Englishman never really threatened.
It looked as though he was caught in two minds between losing time and retaining a top-10 position but as the race wore on, it was clear that his GC aspirations had overtaken stage hunting through long breaks. It made sense. Why give up a top-five in the final week when the race was demonstrating that a number of early breaks weren’t surviving?
Yates’ game-plan wisely changed to solidifying a top 10, and then looking to exploit any weaknesses for possible stage wins. The latter part didn’t come off, and his time trial saw him eventually drop two places to ninth, but that’s still the equal-second best GC result in his career over three weeks, and proof that he can be a factor in major tours.
Best non-Tour result of 2020: Beating Pogacar to win the UAE Tour.
Tour 2021? Everyone thought that they had Ineos’ Tour team dialled in two weeks prior to the race, and look what happened there. Yates is an exceptional rider, and one that could well benefit from the Ineos environment, but they’ve signed so many proven talents to complement an already exceptional squad that they could legitimately have competitive teams at all three Grand Tours and Yates would still play a secondary role.
Highlight of the 2020 Tour: Vying for a podium spot all the way until the final few days.
Tour report: Uran came into the Tour as one of three possible GC leaders for EF Pro Cycling but after Daniel Martinez crashed on stage 2 and Sergio Higuita crashed out on stage 15, the veteran became the American squad’s focal point outside of stage hunting.
Everything looked on course until the Alps, and when the favourites began to really test each other, Uran was found wanting. He rallied with a brave TT on the penultimate day, but his final place in Paris was a fair reflection of his performance.
He has come a long way since his crash last year, but when the hammer went down, he just didn’t have it.
Best non-Tour result of 2020: Part of a winning TTT ride at the Tour Colombia.
Tour 2021? Uran is a figurehead within the Slipstream organization, and he provided valiant cover for the team in this year’s Tour when the rest of their GC cards folded. But the Colombian – who will be 34 in January – could find himself in the role of road captain and mentor to younger options next season, rather than the go-to guy for a top 10.
That said, if Martinez does move to Ineos, then EF can’t rely on Higuita at every turn. And while he may not be the force he once was, Uran is still a consistent performer.
Highlight of the 2020 Tour: It should have been his second place on the final time trial but it’s probably best if he doesn’t mention that in the Jumbo-Visma Whatsapp group.
Tour report: Dumoulin effectively sacrificed his GC ambitions in the Pyrenees and then slipped into the role of super domestique as Jumbo-Visma built their overall challenge around Roglic. The Dutchman had several key cameos in the race, and on a personal level he should be proud of how he’s bounced back from a terrible 2019.
If Roglic had seen off Pogacar in the final time trial, the world would be hailing Dumoulin as the final piece in the jigsaw that helped Jumbo-Visma win the Tour. As things stand, the Dutch team will have to open an inquest into how they managed to lose the race despite their depth and domination. Was their strength in numbers a façade? Was Roglic simply undone by one bad day? Or could Dumoulin – as Steven Kruijswijk mentioned on the first rest day – have been utilised in a different way?
Hindsight is wonderful, but those questions will loom large over the entire team for months to come.
Best non-Tour result of 2020: Not much to choose from because he didn’t race until post-lockdown, but probably seventh overall at the Criterium du Dauphine.
Tour 2021? At some point, Dumoulin will want his chance at Grand Tour glory, so the question for Jumbo-Visma will be whether they repeat their plan for a second year running or opt for something else.
George Bennett has already earmarked the Giro for next year, but once this year’s postmortem is complete, the management will need to pick up their riders and devise a new plan.
Highlight of the 2020 Tour: Winning stage 17 with one of the few major attacks from one of the GC riders in this year’s race.
Tour report: If you’d offered Lopez a stage win and sixth overall at the start, or when he got up off the floor having ridden into a lamppost and bush on stage 1, he probably would have taken it. But despite the success he gained in his maiden Tour, he arrived in Paris with some of the shine worn off.
It’s a shame, because this year’s route was well suited to the Colombian, with no cobbles, just one day in the crosswinds and no time trial kilometres of any kind until the penultimate day.
He seemed to improve as the race wore on, but his final time trial undid so much hard work. That said, only four riders inside the top 20 overall won stages, leaving the Colombian with plenty to savour.
Best non-Tour result of 2020: Fifth overall in the Criterium du Dauphine or winning a stage in the Volta ao Algarve.
Tour 2021? Lopez is a very underrated GC rider. Out of seven Grand Tours, he has finished six and never been outside of the top eight since an initial DNF. Outside of the Grand Tour winners, there are few riders with that level of consistency. Lopez’s time trial, however, will always be an issue, and whether he returns to the Tour or heads back to his Giro/Vuelta comfort zone will very much depend on the routes once they are presented. At 26, though, he deserves another shot at the Tour.
Highlight of the 2020 Tour: Moving into the top-five after coming good in the Alps.
Tour report: Mas was barely visible in the opening half of the race, and either conceded time or fell towards the back of the group of favourites during a number of the early skirmishes. But he found his form on the Grand Colombier with a dogged ride, and then backed that up with two more top 10s in the Alps and then an excellent time trial ahead of Paris.
He may have ghosted his way through much of the race, and only on the road to La Roche-sur-Foron did we see some aggression, but the rider from Mallorca answered many of his critics with a fifth-place finish in Paris.
Best non-Tour result of 2020: 20th in the Dauphine, which demonstrates Mas’ incredible turnaround.
Tour 2021? When it mattered most, Mas rose to the challenge. He came into this race with huge pressure on his shoulders, because not only was he replacing Landa and Quintana at Movistar but he also had to spearhead a team that hadn’t taken a single win since the opening weeks of the season.
Having Alejandro Valverde’s shadow looming over him probably didn’t help, but the 25-year-old did enough to not only suggest that his 2018 Vuelta result wasn’t a fluke and that he should be Movistar’s leader for both the short and long-term.
4th: Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren)
Highlight of the 2020 Tour: Equalling his best-ever result and being part of a team that actually did more than follow.
Tour report: There were always questions over Landa’s podium credentials heading into the Tour, and they only amplified when most of the Bahrain-McLaren team crashed on stage 1, and then Landa himself lost time in the crosswinds on stage 7.
To his and Bahrain McLaren’s credit, they showed resilience with the former Movistar man moving from 19th to fourth overall by the time the race reached Paris. There were flashes of his ability in the mountains, but when the final selections were made, Landa was found lacking that one or two per cent that would have made his podium chances more realistic.
His attitude and application to alter his tactics on repeated days in the Alps were admirable, but it’s quite possible that Landa has reached the limits of his Tour potential.
Best non-Tour result of 2020: Second overall in the Vuelta a Burgos.
Tour 2021? If Bahrain McLaren had the funds to sign another Grand Tour leader to provide competition or an alternative for Landa, they probably would, but due to financial pressures, they’ll probably return to the Tour in 2021 with a squad once more built around the Spaniard.
They might provide less cover, with Dylan Teuns and Sonny Colbrelli allowed to target stage wins, but Landa is their best and only proven Tour de France leader over three weeks.
Highlight of the 2020 Tour: The comeback on the gravel and the time trial of his life to seal third overall.
Tour report: Porte came into this race with little to no pressure after a 2019 that was plagued by illness and a number of setbacks. However, as a GC rider in the Tour, he saved his best for last, with a string of consummate performances in the mountains that led to a fully deserving spot behind the Slovenian pair at the top of the standings.
There was a mini-wobble in the crosswinds, but the way he and Trek kept their heads, especially after losing Bauke Mollema to a crash, deserves credit. Mads Pedersen was immense when it came to protecting the Australian, but it’s Porte who deserves the spotlight. After all the hard knocks and brutal crashes, he finally has a Grand Tour placing his talent deserves. What a great way to end your time as a GC leader.
Best non-Tour result of 2020: Winning a stage and the GC at the Tour Down Under.
Tour 2021? Unlike Yates, the Australian heads to Ineos with no aspirations of leadership in major three-week stage races, as he looks to find stability and calmness in what are likely to be his final two years as a pro cyclist.
There’s honour in that: dropping down into a previous role and admitting that family life and needing to find enjoyment in cycling are major priorities, so if Porte does return to the Tour in 2021, it will be as a super domestique. If you think that’s a step backwards, re-watch the footage of from 2013 and 2014 and see just how important Porte was for Chris Froome.
Highlight of the 2020 Tour: It’s hard to look for positives after such a crushing defeat, but there’s still plenty for Roglic to be positive about, including his stage win and the fact he came so close to winning a second Grand Tour in a row.
Tour report: He fell heartbreakingly short of fulfilling his and his team’s quest to win the Tour de France with a performance that flipped between the unbeatable to the unthinkable in just 36.2km of racing.
This was not a classic Tour by any means, but the final individual test provided a stark reminder that no matter how dominant a rider and especially his team can look, it can all unravel in the blink of an eye.
Roglic and Jumbo-Visma will have a long, hard winter in which to analyse where they lost this race, and there will be no easy answers. For Roglic, this signifies a much tougher blow than his Giro defeat last year, but it’s often forgotten that despite being 30, he is still learning how to lead.
For now, the overriding feeling will be one of bitter disappointment, but he will not argue with the result: Pogacar simply rode a better race.
Best non-Tour result of 2020: Winning the Tour de l’Ain.
Tour 2021? The knee-jerk answer would be yes. Roglic can time trial and climb, and if there’s a team time trial next year, then he instantly has an advantage over all of his rivals.
Whether Jumbo-Visma suit up all their stars for the Tour for a second concentrated tilt remains to be seen; sprinter Dylan Groenewegen will only sit on the sidelines for so long, but dispatching Roglic back to the Giro might knock his confidence significantly, and even though Dumoulin is improving, the Slovenian remains the team’s best rider.
Highlight of the 2020 Tour: Providing the best smash-and-grab performance the Tour de France has ever seen, and taking the mountains classification and the best-young-rider prize alongside yellow.
Tour report: If you’re still struggling to understand exactly what happened at La Planche des Belles Filles, don’t worry – you’re not alone. But what you witnessed was
a standout performance from a highly rated 22-year-old (21 when he won) who decimated the entire field with a time trial that only Eddy Merckx apparently saw coming.
Until that point, Pogacar had ridden a near-perfect race. Other than the loss of time in the crosswinds, he was imperious in the Pyrenees, and he demonstrated both calmness and a clinical mindset as he slowly chipped away at Roglic’s lead.
Whether Jumbo were oblivious to the danger or simply couldn’t put enough distance into the UAE rider is a question only they can answer, but his win at the Grand Colombier showed that he wasn’t in the mood for settling for second overall.
Best non-Tour result of 2020: Winning two stages and the overall in Valenciana.
Tour 2021? Never in doubt, but those comparing him to Merckx need a timely reminder that they were saying the exact same thing 12 months ago in relation to Egan Bernal.