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2020 Road Season Preview

Mathieu van der Poel and Chloé Dygert chase Olympic gold, and Boels-Dolmans chases new title sponsors. These are the 10 biggest stories to follow in the 2020 international road cycling season.

This story appeared in the January/February print issue of VeloNews Magazine. 

Mathieu van der Poel goes for gold
What can’t Mathieu van der Poel do on a bicycle? In 2020 he will go for Olympic gold in mountain biking, try to win Paris-Roubaix and stages of the Vuelta a España, and go for another cyclocross world title. The most versatile male rider ever, van der Poel is a safe bet to win most—if not all—of those goals.

Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images

Change of scenery for Cavendish
In 2019 Mark Cavendish failed to win a professional road race for the first time in his 15-year professional career. Cavendish placed the blame on injury and illness, yet pundits weren’t so kind. Perhaps it was time for the Manx Missile to retire. Cavendish has decided to give it one more go, signing a deal to race with Bahrain-Merida. The move brings him back with former trainer Rod Ellingworth, who believes he can unlock one more winning season for Cavendish. Can Cav come back?

Will the Dutch Olympic leader please stand up?
The Netherlands heads to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo with perhaps the strongest women’s team ever: reigning road champion Annemiek van Vleuten, reigning Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen, and the sport’s best-ever rider, Marianne Vos. Who will the team ride for in Tokyo is a big mystery, as the hilly route seems to favor all three riders.

Photo: Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images

Dygert goes for it on the road and track
Chloé Dygert’s dominating world championship win in the individual road time trial was confirmation that the 24-year-old American is the rider to beat at the Tokyo Olympics. There’s a hurdle standing in Dygert’s way: She will race the road time trial as well as the team pursuit on the track, splitting her focus between the two. Only Dutchwoman Leontien van Moorsel, who won four medals at the 2000 Olympics, has won gold on the track and road in the same year.

The Tour de France copies the Vuelta a España
The 2020 Tour de France route is heavy on the mountains, short on individual time trials, and short on distance. There are nine mountain stages, just one individual time trial, and just one single stage over 200 kilometers in length. Organizers are hoping for a heart-pounding, action-packed edition, and the route they have designed takes plenty of cues from the Vuelta a España, where steep climbs and short routes are de rigueur. Will it work?

Boels-Dolmans searches for a savior
The most dominant women’s professional team of this generation, Boels-Dolmans, needs new sponsors for 2021. The Dutch squad of van der Breggen, Chantal Blaak, and Katie Hall has long been backed by two equipment rental companies. The squad enters 2020 with ambitious racing goals as well: it will grow its roster from 12 to 16 riders, and participate in events across the globe, not just in Europe. Will the ambitious plans net new backers for 2021? We hope so.

Team Ineos juggles its Tour roster
Egan Bernal, Chris Froome, or Geraint Thomas: which man is best suited to win the 2020 Tour de France? Team Ineos’s upper brass will spend the first few months of the season contemplating this question. Froome is chasing history, hoping to join the five-time winners. Thomas may be better suited for the Giro d’Italia, with its long individual time trials. Bernal is likely the best pure climber of the bunch, but does he have the experience to win back-to-back tours?

Is Primož Roglič the man to stop Team Ineos
Plenty of talented challengers have tried to dethrone Team Sky/Ineos at the Tour de France over this past decade. And now, there is Primož Roglič, Jumbo-Visma’s champion. Roglič can climb, time trial, and win punchy finishes—it’s the well-rounded combination that appears custom-fit to take down Team Ineos’s band of climbers and time trialists. Roglič also leads one of the strongest squads in the WorldTour, bolstered by Tom Dumoulin. Can the Slovenian and his Dutch squad finally take down pro cycling’s greatest Tour de France team?

New structure for women’s cycling
For 2020 professional women’s cycling will see the biggest swing of reforms in decades. The governing body will create a division of UCI WorldTour teams, which are required to pay a minimum wage, and offer paid maternity leave and holiday time, plus insurance coverage for health, accidents, and hospitalization, among other accoutrements. There are eight squads that will enter the WorldTour for 2020 and agree to these terms. Will these reforms lead to better racing conditions for the women? Only time will tell.

Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

Trek-Segafredo’s stab at greatness
On paper, Trek-Segafredo is perhaps the strongest team in the UCI Women’s WorldTour. For its inaugural season, the American-registered squad achieved towering heights, winning the OVO Women’s Tour with Lizzie Deignan, the U.S. road crown with Ruth Winder, and Dwars Door Vlaanderen with Ellen Van Dijk. Still, the squad was a few steps behind teams that should be considered its peers. And on paper, the squad still lacks an ace on the level of Marianne Vos, Anna van der Breggen, or Annemiek van Vleuten. Could one of Trek-Segafredo’s riders blossom into the next world beater?