Best Cycling Predictions

Robyn’s 2024 Pro Cycling Season Predictions

G’day mate. With the women’s Tour Down Under kicking off the season from January 12th-14th and the men’s Tour Down Under following from January 16th-21st, it’s time for some exciting predictions for 2024.

Tadej Pogačar will win the Giro d’Italia, but not the Tour de France

If anyone can win a Grand Tour on their debut, it’s Tadej Pogačar. The Slovenian cyclist claimed his first Tour de France victory in 2020 at just 21. Nevertheless, Jonas Vingegaard has won the last two editions, and he will undoubtedly be aiming to defend his title in 2024 with a strong team lineup. Pogačar’s 2023 season saw him dominate classics but face a setback due to injury, affecting his Tour de France preparation. While he is expected to focus on the Giro d’Italia this year, other contenders like Geraint Thomas might challenge him. Meanwhile, Primož Roglič will be concentrating on the Tour de France.

Josh Tarling and Marlen Reusser to Ride to Olympic Glory

Josh Tarling secured the Great Britain Individual Time-Trial Championship in 2023 and continued his success with victories in other prestigious competitions. He’s expected to aim for Olympic gold on a 32.4km loop in Paris, which suits his strengths. For the women, Marlen Reusser, who narrowly missed out on Olympic gold previously, is a favourite considering her recent successes and focus on the time-trial event.

Gaia Realini to Win a Grand Tour

Gaia Realini has shown immense promise, finishing third in La Vuelta Femenina and the Giro d’Italia Donne in 2023. With her extensive experience in Grand Tours, 2024 might witness her securing her first victory in one of the major stage races. Watch out for her at the UAE Tour in February, where she aims to improve on her second-place finish from last year.

Mark Cavendish to Get #35

Mark Cavendish, who had anticipated retirement after the 2023 season, has re-signed with Astana for 2024. With a reinforced sprint train led by Michael Mørkøv and strategic leadership from Mark Renshaw, Cavendish aims to secure his 35th Tour de France stage win, surpassing Eddy Merckx’s record. Although the Tour will end with a time trial in Nice due to the Olympics in Paris, Cavendish still has several flat stages to achieve this milestone.

*Do not yell at me should these not materialise. Like Zara Larsson, it ain’t my fault.

Robyn's 2024 Pro Cycling Season Predictions

G’day mate. It feels like the off-season gets longer every time, but the 2024 season has finally begun with the women’s Tour Down Under. The peloton is racing from the 12th-14th January before the men’s Tour Down Under kicks off from 16th-21st January. Before the pedals turn much further, here are some predictions for the upcoming year:

Tadej Pogačar Will Win the Giro d'Italia, but Not the Tour de France

If anyone can win a Grand Tour on their debut, it’s Tadej Pogačar. The Slovenian rode to overall victory on his first attempt at the Tour de France back in 2020 at the tender age of 21, thrusting himself into the company of Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, and Laurent Fignon. Pogačar also took home the polka dot jersey and white jersey for best climber and best young rider, stamping his dominance on his maiden Tour de France.

Yet the last two editions of the Tour have been won by Visma-Lease a Bike’s Jonas Vingegaard, who will undoubtedly arrive at the 2024 start line in Florence with a typically stacked team alongside him to defend his maillot jaune. Last year Pogačar hit the Classics hard with determination prior to the Tour de France, victorious in the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race, and La Flèche Wallonne. But his preparation was scuppered by also hitting the ground hard in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and fracturing his hand.

Fast forward to the Tour de France that summer and a race was indeed on for the first two weeks, leading to whispers of the 2023 edition having the potential of being ‘the best Tour in recent memory’. Unfortunately, it was the third and final week that proved to be Pogačar’s downfall. 'I’m gone, I’m dead' was the quote heard around the world as he cracked on Stage 17, the Queen Stage up the Col de la Loze. He ended the day over seven minutes down on the day’s winner Felix Gall, crossing the line in an uncharacteristic 22nd place. While Vingegaard later claimed overall victory in Paris, Pogačar finished second by a mammoth 7:29.

In an interview with FloBikes, he admitted that racing for the Tour of Flanders and Ardennes Classics ‘cost me the Tour’, but said in the same breath that he loves racing. Should Pogačar wish to win another Tour de France title, perhaps relinquishing the cobblestones for one season is the ideal preparation. A selfish part of me hopes not – to deprive the Classics of Pogačar almost feels like extinguishing a flame constantly lit inside cycling’s best entertainer. At the very least, I hope he wins another Tour de France then immediately returns to the Classics. He’s one of a kind.

Josh Tarling and Marlen Reusser to Ride to Olympic Glory

Josh Tarling won Great Britain’s Individual Time-Trial National Championship last July. He followed this up by securing his first World Tour victory in the form of a 13.6km ITT at the Renewi Tour in August, then became the European Champion in September.

The only logical advancement is for Josh Tarling to complete time-trialling (minus Worlds) by winning the Olympic gold medal this summer. The course for both men and women is a 32.4km loop around Paris with only 150m of elevation gain, traversing the Seine and crossing over the Pont de Sully bridge, skirting around the Vélodrome Jacques Anquetil and taking in the sights of the Bois de Vincennes. Not that they’ll have any time to soak in their surroundings mind, as it’s a quick ride back towards the Place de la Bastille to finish at Pont Alexandre III.

It’s shorter than some of the longest time-trials Tarling has raced in and won, for example, the National Championship last year, which was 41.1km, or the Chrono des Nations ITT at 45.4km, in which he finished ahead of big hitters Remco Evenepoel of Soudal-QuickStep and EF Education-EasyPost’s Stefan Bissegger. If anything, it’s most similar in length and profile to the 29.8km European Championship ITT he won ahead of Bissegger and Wout van Aert.

For the women, I’m expecting powerhouse Marlen Reusser to go one better than her silver medal at the last Olympics for golden glory. Reusser comfortably won the last European Championships TT by 43 seconds ahead of Great Britain’s Anna Henderson. SD Worx said her focus this season will be on the individual time-trial at the Olympics and I have complete faith she will win.

Gaia Realini to Win a Grand Tour

What, you think I’m going to stop talking about Gaia Realini (Lidl-Trek) in the near future? No chance. The 22-year-old finished third in La Vuelta Femenina last year after a win on Stage 6 ahead of Annemiek van Vleuten and won the mountain classification too. At the Giro d’Italia Donne, she finished third overall and was the highest placed young rider.

With her prosperous experience in Grand Tours already, I strongly feel she’ll take things up a notch and win one of the three biggest stage races in the 2024 season. She is outlined to ride La Vuelta Femenina and Giro d’Italia Donne again this year and is set to make her debut at the Tour de France Femmes too. But first, she’ll ride the UAE Tour from 8th-11th February. Realini finished second overall behind Longo Borghini last year and I would not be surprised to see her go one better this time around.

Mark Cavendish to Get #35

You could hear hearts break alongside Mark Cavendish’s collarbone as he crashed out of the Tour de France last summer on a seemingly innocuous stretch of road during Stage 8. Naturally, all the talk beforehand had surrounded his ability to take one more victory in the race (he was oh-so-close just the day prior but his gears slipped) and become the outright record holder for most wins in the Tour de France. He currently shares the record of 34 wins with Eddy Merckx. With his retirement set for the end of the 2023 season, it seemed like this chapter had shut. No more attempt at #35. But of course, this is cycling, this is Mark Cavendish. Expect the unexpected.

Cavendish re-signed with Astana on a one-year deal for 2024, delaying his retirement and reigniting the idea that he could secure just one more win. Astana’s sprint train has been bolstered by the signing of Michael Mørkøv, who was alongside Cavendish at Deceuninck-QuickStep back in 2021 for his famous comeback at the Tour. Mark Renshaw was sprint and lead-out consultant for Astana at the last Tour de France and has had a promotion to become a DS with the team. His history with Cavendish is intertwined, the pair linking up for countless leadout and sprint successes over the years from HTC-Highroad to Etixx-Quick-Step and Team Dimension Data. They’ve even managed to lure the man behind his comeback, coach Vasilis Anastopoulos, from Soudal-QuickStep. All the components are there. They just need to click into place once.

Should Cavendish achieve the mythical #35, sadly he will not do so on the Champs-Élysées, which has seen several dramatic finishes to the Tour de France since its initiation as the final day’s home in 1975. Due to the Olympic Games being in Paris this summer, Stage 21 has moved to Nice and will be an individual time-trial. There are plenty of sprint days that precede this though, with eight regarded as ‘flat’, and all eyes will be on Cavendish and his Astana team when the moments arise.

FAQ

Due to the Paris 2024 Olympics, the final stage of the Tour de France will not finish on the Champs-Élysées but in Nice with an individual time-trial.

Tadej Pogačar is predicted to win the 2024 Giro d’Italia, showcasing his versatile and outstanding racing talents.

Josh Tarling is predicted to claim the gold medal for men, while Marlen Reusser is expected to achieve Olympic glory in the women’s individual time-trial.

Pogačar’s 2023 campaign faced challenges due to his intense Classics season preparations, culminating in him cracking during the third week of the Tour de France.

Mark Cavendish seeks to break the tie with Eddy Merckx for the most Tour de France stage wins, aiming to secure his 35th victory.