"There will be four big champions on four different teams" - Christian Prudhomme admits delight at collapse of proposed Visma-Soudal merger in respect to Tour de France winning competition

One of the biggest topics of discussion in the Autumn of 2023 was the proposed merger between Jumbo-Visma and Soudal - Quick-Step. Ultimately, the deal to bring two of cycling's most successful teams together fell through and the Tour de France's Christian Prudhomme believes the best outcome has been reached.

“What did worry me a bit were the rumours about the Jumbo and Soudal merger, with Jonas and Remco in the same team," admits Prudhomme in discussion with AS. "But instead, there will be four big champions – Tadej Pogacar, Jonas Vingegaard, Primoz Roglic and Remco Evenepoel – on four different teams, which could make for a really good Tour de France.”

In recent years, the Tour de France has been something of a two-horse race between Vingegaard and Pogacar with the top two steps of the podium at each of the last three editions being taken by the superstar duo. “We’re lucky to have exceptional riders, who attack when it’s expected, but also when nobody imagines it, Tadej Pogačar attacked on the Champs-Elysées. He knew he wasn’t going to win the overall, but he was still trying," Prudhomme reflects on the 2023 edition. “We had a fortnight of spectacular fighting between Pogačar and Vingegaard."

Next year, with the addition of more potential winners and the fact the race finishes with a challenging time-trial in Nice, it's fair to say Prudhomme is excited. "Evenepoel has said that he will make his debut in the race in 2024. What he did at the Vuelta was great: despite everything, he didn't give up," he concludes. “And in the recent past, we have seen that a time trial at the end of the Tour can change everything, like in 2020 at La Planche des Belles Filles with Pogačar and Roglič. It will be a tough time trial, over 30km long with 700 metres of climbing. It's a day for champions. For Tour de France champions.”

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