Tour de France peloton
Different teams have different motivations in the Tour de France. (Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO / Getty Images)

What to Know About the 22 Teams Racing the Men’s Tour de France

Only a few squads are chasing the yellow jersey—the others are pursuing stage wins or the final podium at the world’s biggest bike race

Andrew Hood

from Velo

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Not every team brings a Tadej Pogačar or a Jonas Vingegaard to race to win the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.

In fact, only about a half dozen teams have realistic chances of even coming close to the maillot jaune by the time the Tour rolls into Paris on July 23.

Yet hope springs eternal for the 22 starting teams Saturday in Bilbao for the 110th edition of elite men’s cycling’s grandest stage race.

Make no mistake, every team lining up in Spain’s Basque Country this weekend packs big ambitions. Whether it’s winning a stage, holding a jersey, or riding into breakaways, sport directors will be screaming into race radios to urge their riders on.

Also read:

There’s only one winner, two podium spots, and three other jerseys up for grabs.

A major target for any team is a stage victory. There are 21 stages, and with several teams often hogging several wins across the three weeks of racing, there’s not enough to go around.

No wonder you see those tears flowing from among the staffers that played so well in the Netflix documentary.

No matter how big or how poor, each lineup wants to take something out of the Tour.

Here’s a quick breakdown of every team and their respective captains, goals, ambitions, and realistic chances of pulling them off:

Win Or Go Home

Just like in real life, the Tour de France and its peloton is a reflection of a growing disparity between its wealthiest teams and the lower-rung squads operating on one-third to one-quarter the budget of the larger, wealthier rivals at the top.

Coming into this year’s Tour, three teams—Jumbo-Visma, UAE Team Emirates, and Ineos Grenadiers—dominate the race in quality, depth, and success. Going back to 2012, these three teams have won every yellow jersey since then except in 2014, when Vincenzo Nibali won with Astana.

Last year, the peloton’s “Big Three” swept the podium, won 10 of the 21 stages, and claimed all the major jerseys.

Can a team from the peloton’s “middle class” change the script? Probably not. Here’s who’s on top:

Jumbo-Visma (The Netherlands)

Wout Van Aert
Wout van Aert won two stages and the green jersey in 2022, and helped Jumbo-Visma put its stamp on the Tour. (Photo: Gruber Images/Velo)

Move over Ineos Grenadiers, there’s a new sheriff in town.

Jumbo-Visma is now cycling’s newest super team, with unrivaled depth and diversity across its murderer’s row of a lineup.

2022: The Dutch yellow jackets elbowed their way to the top of the heap emphatically last year, winning its first yellow jersey in franchise history. Jonas Vingegaard did the unthinkable, and toppled Tadej Pogačar to snatch away yellow. The Dane also won the climber’s jersey, and Wout van Aert mined green. Add six stages between Vingegaard, Van Aert, and Christophe Laporte, and Jumbo-Visma delivered one of the most dominant team performances in years. 

2023: Can the Killer Bee’s match 2022? Jumbo-Visma is tamping down expectations this year ever so slightly. Van Aert promises not to go bonkers or chase green, and with Primož Roglič sitting out this edition, Vingegaard will carry all the weight and responsibility. Super-dooper super-domestique Sepp Kuss is back for the mountains, but won’t have wings to chase a win until Pogačar is riding in the gruppetto. 

Defining success: A stout title defense is expected, and everyone is bracing for an epic tug-of-war between Pogačar and Vingegaard. To win, the Dane needs to remain patient, fend off Pogačar’s likely early aggression, and wait for the longer climbs to pounce. Van Aert might try his hand in a few stage wins, but this July is all about Vingo defending. Anything short of another yellow jersey will sting, but a steady defense even if he’s second will earn him respect.

Odds: 50/50 in a two-horse race with Pogačar.

UAE Team Emirates (United Arab Emirates)

Tadej Pogacar
Tadej Pogačar isn’t expected to hold back, shown here winning in the Pyrénées. (Photo: Gruber Images/Velo)

UAE Team Emirates won the lottery in 2019 when it picked up largely unknown Pogačar hot off winning the Tour de l’Avenir. It’s like the Chicago Bulls selecting Michael Jordan, and championship rings fell from the heavens. Matxin and Gianetti found a franchise rider that everyone compares only to Eddy Merckx.

2022: Pogačar came unglued in the French Alps last summer in a rare miscue that’s certainly been gnawing on his mind all winter. A blistering spring was derailed by a broken wrist in April, but as one team insider said, Pogačar could fall into a creek, he’d come out dry. 

2023: UAE brings a solid squad, with Adam Yates, Rafa Majka, and Marc Soler to chaperone him into the climbs. He’ll see support on the flats from Vergard Stake Laengen, Mikkel Brerg, and Matteo Trentin, but it’s all up to Pogačar. If he’s the hungry force he was this spring and his wrist is fully healed, he could be hard to beat. 

Defining success: Insiders say the oil-rich team backers only care about winning. Pogačar isn’t racing for second place, but he needs to be careful not to fall into the same trap as he did last year. A wiser and smarter Pogačar could be even more dangerous. Can one rider do it against the peloton’s strongest team? It’s all or nothing in 2023. 

Odds: 50/50 in a two-horse race with Vingegaard.

Ineos Grenadiers (U.K.)

Alpe d'Huez Tom Pidcock
The drama doesn’t get much bigger than on the Alpe d’Huez with Tom Pidcock. (Photo: Gruber Images/Velo)

It wasn’t so long ago that Sky/Ineos ruled the Tour roost. Seven yellow jerseys within eight years with four different riders was unprecedented. Then suddenly the music stopped. Or, more specifically, Pogačar blew the wheels off everyone and Jumbo-Visma muscled in.

2022: Geraint Thomas defied expectations to remind everyone that the old guard had one more dance. Third surpassed expectations and Tom Pidcock’s dramatic stage win at Alpe d’Huez revealed promise, but its victory in the team competition also reminded how different the team’s expectations are in the new reality.

2023: Egan Bernal is the born-again racer in his miracle comeback, but no one’s expecting him to have the firepower to match Vingegaard and Pogačar, at least not this year. Pidcock returns for a second loop with eyes on improving, but a legitimate Tour bid still seems down the road. Daniel Martinez is a long-shot outsider for the podium.

Defining success: Team owner Jim Ratcliffe isn’t paying tens of millions for a job well-done. He wants wins. So the team is under pressure to deliver at least one big W — cue Pidcock — and show something in the GC. Reaching Paris inside the top-10 would be a massive accomplishment for Bernal, who almost died 18 months ago in his horrific front-on collision with a bus. The future looks promising for this crew, but the pressure is on to deliver today. 

Odds: Good for a stage win, but the podium seems far.

Hoping For the Podium

Tour de France
Breaking out of the crowd isn’t easy in the Tour de France. (Photo: Gruber Images/Velo)

Behind the peloton’s triple crown are a half-dozen teams pounding on the door of Tour redemption.

Not quite as well-funded or super-sized as the leading trio, these teams all punch above their weight in bravado, verve, and attacking style. 

If everyone agrees that the race for yellow is a two-horse race — everyone also knows things rarely go to expectation at the Tour — so the battle for third should be one of the most exciting in the race.

Here are the top podium contenders and their chances:

Groupama FDJ (France)

After fourth last year, France’s next big hope comes in the form of David Gaudu. Anyone who watched the Netflix series will know all about the (over-the-top) passion from team manager Marc Madiot, but the long-running French team always races with heart. The presence of soon-to-be-retired Thibaut Pinot might divide the team’s forces, but otherwise it’s all for what would be France’s first podium since Romain Bardet was third in 2017. Gaudu is first in line if he doesn’t crack.

Podium hopes: 8/10

Movistar (Spain)

If anyone seems destined for the podium, it’s Enric Mas. The burden of being Spain’s “next big thing” hasn’t sat well for mild-mannered Mas. After his infamous meltdown in 2022, Mas bounced back to finish second in the Vuelta. Twice in the top-5, Mas seems poised for a next big step up. American Matteo Jorgenson is tapped as one of his key helpers. The explosive front half might hurt him, but the endless climbs will bolster his hopes if he can hang close.

Podium hopes: 5/10

Bora-Hansgrohe (Germany)

This climb-heavy course should tip in favor of the 2022 Giro d’Italia winner. The front end of the race might be too explosive for Hindley’s ever-steady motor, but he should rise to the top in the gruesome third week. Hindley must avoid crashing and getting gapped until the big mountains arrive, and then keep tapping away.

Podium hopes: 7/10

Bahrain Victorious (Bahrain)

This year’s grueling Tour route is ideal for Landa and his ever-steady, diesel-like engine. Twice fourth, including missing the final spot on the podium by just 1 second, this year is now or never for Landa. Once tapped as a potential grand tour winner, a Tour podium and/or stage win would cap his up-and-down career. The tragic death of Gino Mäder will be a factor, and the team will be racing with extra inspiration.

Podium hopes: 7/10

EF Education-EasyPost (USA)

Jonathan Vaughters’ teams have evolved and changed over the years, but one thing remains a constant: EF always brings engaging and interesting teams to the Tour. This year is no exception, and EF could be the Tour’s dark horse. In 2017, Rigoberto Urán rode within 1 minute of beating Chris Froome in the Tour. This year, Urán is back, but it’s 2019 Giro winner Richard Carapaz who’s the team’s central hope. He wasn’t overly impressive this spring, but he was third in the 2021 Tour and second in last year’s Giro. To win might be a stretch, but if Carapaz hits his stride, he can attack his rivals to pave his way to the podium. 

Podium hopes: 8/10

Team DSM-Firmenich (The Netherlands)

Once the shining light of French cycling, the two-time podium man Romain Bardet found refuge in the Dutch squad. Far from the pressure, Bardet’s posted a solid spring, and with the climb-heavy course, hope springs eternal for one of the princes of the “Class of 1990.” If Bardet uses his experience to keep hanging on, he might find the legs when he needs them for a final podium spurt in the closing weekend.

Podium hope: 6/10

Sprint teams

Jasper Philipsen
Jasper Philipsen won two stages last year, and wants more in 2023. (Photo: Gruber Images/Velo)

There could be up to eight sprint opportunities in this year’s Tour, and with field featuring a few teams that are almost exclusively built around bunch sprints and, to a further degree, breakaways, the transition stages could be thrilling this year in their own right.

With Mark Cavendish chasing a record 35th stage win, and a peloton overflowing with sprinting rivals all desperate to notch their win, the sprints will be highly contested in every chance they get.

Alpecin Deceuninck (Belgium)

The Dutch superstar will be splitting responsibilities with Philipsen, who emerged as one of the best bunch sprinters in last year’s Tour with two wins. Van der Poel will have freedom on lumpier stages, and then play leadout for  Philipsen on the flats. When they’re on form and working as a unit, they’re hard to beat.

Sprint haul: 3 stages

Lotto-Dstny (Belgium)

The proud Belgian team lost its WorldTour license last year, but returns with five-time stage winner Caleb Ewan at the center of its ambitions. At least one stage win would be huge for the down-on-its-luck franchise. There will be some chances for Thomas De Gendt in the breakaways, but all eyes will be on Ewan’s revival in the fast lane.

Sprint haul: 1 stage

Intermarché-Circus-Wanty (Belgium)

History will be made if Tour rookie Biniam Girmay crosses the line a winner to become the first Black African to win a Tour stage. The team brings some other options, but it’s all in for Girmay in the bunch sprints. He didn’t have a great first half of 2023, but a victory at the Tour de Suisse raises hopes just in time for the Tour.

Sprint haul: 1 stage

Astana-Qazaqstan (Kazakhstan)

Love him or hate him, Cavendish is arguably the Tour’s greatest sprinter. Now tied with Eddy Merckx with 34 stage wins — granted, Big Eddy also won mountain stages and time trials — the Manxster needs just one more to create a club of his own. He’ll miss the leadout from Michael Mørkøv and Quick-Step, but Cees Bol and Yevgeniy Fedorov will do their level best. All he needs is one. Odds are the cagey Cav will do it.

Sprint haul: 1 stage

Soudal-Quick-Step (Belgium)

Jakobsen “won” the battle to lead Quick-Step last year at Cavendish’s expense, and took an emotional stage win in the first week. The Dutch rider was nearly killed in a horrific crash in 2020, but proved he’s still one of the fastest in the game. With Mørkøv serving up the red carpet, he should be even more successful this year.

Sprint haul: 2 stages

Hunting Stage Wins

Tour de France
Riding into breakaways is the best hope for many teams. (Photo: Gruber Images/Velo)

Nearly every other team brings squads filled with mercenaries intent on winning stages, going on breakaways, contesting sprints, and otherwise trying to disrupt the script of the favorites.

Almost none of them have any real skin in the GC game, so the entire success or failure of the Tour rides on winning a stage or not. The pressure is on.

Jayco-AlUla (Australia)

The popular Aussie outfit actually brings a unique duality with Yates and Groenewegen. Last year, the team won two stages, and this year it wants at least that many. Vuelta winner Yates will be targeting stages and could make a run for the King of the Mountains jersey, and Groenewegen will want at least two bunch sprints. American Lawson Craddock might see some freedom as well. Crank up the AC/DC, these guys are ready to race.

Stage haul: 2 stages

Lidl-Trek (USA)

OK, so Mattias Skjelmose might be a podium outsider, but the team’s DNA runs deep with breakaways and aggression. Mads Pedersen won a stage last year, and will be targeting green this year with his consistency in the mass kicks. Jasper Stuyven, Giulio Ciccone, and Skjelmose will but cut loose in appropriate terrain, while freshly minted US champion Quinn Simmons also wants a win.

Stage haul: 1 stage

Ag2r-Citroën (France)

Ben O’Connor should be included among podium contenders, but the Aussie will also want to pivot toward winning a stage if his GC hopes take on water early. Benoit Cosnefroy will also have freedom after the team left Greg Van Avermaet at home. 

Stage haul: 1 stage

Uno-X (Denmark)

The upstart Norwegian-Danish outfit surprised some by earning the Tour de France, but the second-tier squad’s been racing aggressively in every race it starts. Aging lion Alexander Kristoff, Rasmus Tiller, and Tobias Halland Johannessen give the team legitimate chances.

Stage haul: 1 stage

Arkéa-Samsic (France)

Nairo Quintana’s gone, and the French team rolls on with Warren Barguil leading the charge. Now a WorldTour team, they’re still racing with second-tier ambitions. A stage win would be huge and a surprise.

Stage haul: zero

Total Energies (France)

Peter Sagan is well beyond his best, but everyone will be cheering for one last romp down the finish line for the three-time world champion. Eddy Boasson Hagen is also a perennial fighter. Some close calls will be as good as it gets, even if the heart wants more.

Stage haul: zero

Cofidis (France)

This scrapppy team’s won 11 races so far in 2023, but none of them have been in the WorldTour. Ion Izagirre, Guillaume Martin, and Bryan Coquard all give the team hope, but hope alone does not mean a win at the Tour. They’re coming painstakingly close just about every day.

Stage haul: zero

Israel-Premier Tech (Israel)

The team punched above its weight last year to bring home two surprise wins. Michael Woods looks to be on fine fettle, and Dylan Teuns brings experienced depth. Unfortunately those two will be crossing swords with the Pogačar’s of the bunch. The stars will have to align.

Stage haul: 1 win

Tour de France polka-dot jersey
Even a few days in a leader’s jersey can become a career highlight. EF’s Magnus Cort donned the polka-dot jersey early in 2022, much to the delight of the Danish fans. (Photo: Gruber Images/Velo)
Lead Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO / Getty Images