With the last of 2019’s Grand Tours now over, now is a good time to look at how the 2020 season might unfold and which of the new breed of riders will be setting the agenda. So, here are just a few of the young cyclists to keep an eye on in 2020.
When thinking of young riders who made an impact in 2019, Egan Bernal is the first name that springs to mind. The 22-year-old Columbian’s rise has been meteoric and culminated in a stunning Tour de France victory becoming the youngest general classification winner since 1909.
The former mountain biker has three stage-race wins and one Grand Tour under his belt and rides for Team Ineos, currently the leading team in the sport. He has already been installed as favorite to defend his Tour de France crown in the latest cycling betting odds. Interestingly, he could go up against highly successful teammate Chris Froome who is working his way back to fitness after a horror accident earlier in the year.
Bernal has yet to compete in the Giro d’Italia or Vuelta de España, and in September he took the controversial decision to skip the Road World Championships. The lack of hills on the course may have prompted his decision not to take part. In his first outing since his GT win, he recorded a second-place finish at the Giro Della Toscana.
Spain’s hopes of producing another Grand Tour winner seem to rest in the hands of 24-year-old Enric Mas who will leave the Deceuninck-QuickStep to join the Spanish Movistar squad nest year. He will replace Mikel Landa and lead the team in the showpiece races over the next three campaigns.
The Mallorca-born rider finished second in the 2018 edition of the Vuelta an España and will share leadership duties with fellow Spaniard Alejandro Valverde. Mas burst on the scene riding for the Contador Fundación team before joining QuickStep in 2017. He already has a Grand Tour stage win under his belt and is ready to step up to the next level having competed in his first Tour de France in 2019.
In a Grand Tour, you will have very good days and days where you will suffer. Today was one of the latter. The important thing is to learn in every moment of my first @LeTour, recover as much as possible tomorrow, rest day, and keep fighting.@deceuninck_qst 📷 @GettyImages pic.twitter.com/LImse8RW8i
— Enric Mas Nicolau (@EnricMasNicolau) July 21, 2019
Still aged just 21, Tadej Pogačar looks set to be a huge star in the world of cycling. As part of UAE Team Emirates, he won three stages at the 2019 Vuelta de España coming third overall and topping the young rider classification list. He also won the Tour of California and the Volta ao Algarve and finished best young rider in the Tour of Slovenia and the Tour of the Basque Country.
His dramatic rise on the World Tour looks set to continue in 2020 when he could take part in his first-ever Tour de France. It may be too soon to tip him as a 2020 Grand Tour winner, but as Egan Bernal proved this year, youth does not have to be an obstacle when you have all the talent in the world and the right backing.
These are just three young prospects to look out for on the cycling World Tour in 2020. And all three could go up against one of the greatest of all time as Britain’s Chris Froome makes his long-anticipated return to action.