2020 has brought us some interesting changes in the pecking order, amongst the leading cyclists in the world road racing scene. South American riders continued to make great strides, albeit without quite the same level of success as 2019, while two Slovenians have made their mark with triumphant runs in two of the three Grand Tour events this year. Looking ahead to the 2021 schedule, favorites for the big races are already beginning to emerge.
Early cycling betting odds for the 2021 Tour de France are already available, with Slovenian dominance expected to continue. 2020 winner Tadej Pogacar is tipped at 5/2 odds to retain his title, although fellow countryman Primoz Roglic has already been installed as the 6/4 favorite, with both expected to maintain their excellent form heading into the next road racing season.
‘Pogacar won’t be taken for granted by his Tour de France rivals’ says Peiper
— Cyclingnews.com (@Cyclingnewsfeed) November 4, 2020
22-year-old Pogacar has made exceptional progress riding with UAE Team Emirates over the last few years, establishing his credentials with numerous junior championships and young rider classification titles, before really hitting the headlines with his Tour de France win in 2020. There’s definitely more to come from this exceptional cyclist, suggesting that he could potentially be one of the top riders over the next decade.
Meanwhile, it’s fair to say that 31-year-old Roglic is firmly within the peak period of his road racing career. His progress was both steady and consistent, prior to finishing fourth at the 2018 Tour de France, at which point his trajectory really caught everyone’s attention. Third at the Giro d’Italia in 2019, he went on to win the Vuelta a España, went on to defend that title in 2020; either side of his push to second in the 2020 Tour de France.
Insofar as the South American challengers are concerned, 27-year-old Richard Carapaz of Ecuador has enjoyed a strong 2020 season, as one of the biggest climbers up the UCI road racing rankings. The 2019 Giro winner finished 13th at the Tour and while that might not have matched his expectations, he made a fierce fight of the Vuelta, before ultimately settling for second place in the classification behind Roglic.
— La Vuelta a España 🇪🇦 – Diego Vos (@diegovos_) November 8, 2020
During what ultimately proved to be a frustrating campaign for 23-year-old Egan Bernal, the 2019 Tour winner struggled to match the same kind of form. Many of the stage races he favors weren’t held and that hindered preparations for the Tour, where he started well but withdrew after Stage 16. With the aid of better preparations, this talented rider will surely bounce back to enjoy success at major stage races in 2021.
Finally, the dominant British cyclists of the last decade found 2020 particularly challenging, as traditional favorites like Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, and Simon Yates all struggled. However, the country has a new hope to cheer for in the shape of Tao Geoghegan Hart. The 25-year-old was exceptional at the 2020 Giro d’Italia, which will certainly give his Ineos Grenadiers team plenty to hope for over the years to come.
Amongst the cyclists mentioned there’s a huge wealth of road racing talent, and that’s without mentioning the many established stars of the scene, who will all be rearing to go throughout the 2021 season. It could be one of the most competitive seasons ever, which is exciting when contemplating the thrilling races we can expect to enjoy during the next twelve months.