Paris 2024 challenges cycling's golden generation. GETTY IMAGES

The Olympic event will bring together the best versions of Pogacar, Vingegaard, Van Aert and Evenepoel, each with different goals, but all with the desire to win Olympic gold at a time when cycling's path towards new structures and competitions is shaping its future.

Never before, at least in the recent history of cycling, have such competitive and versatile riders come together. Tadej Pogacar, Jonas Vingegaard, Wout Van Aert and Remco Evenepoel are cycling's golden generation. They are all incredibly young and have already won the world's best races. Some of them have won stage races and one-day classics, achievements that very few can claim. All will be at the peak of their powers in 2024, an Olympic year. 

Paris 2024 will challenge them all, and it will be the ultimate test, as none of them have ever raced an Olympic race in such top form due to their age. All of this is taking place amid the uncertainty surrounding the possible creation of a super league. This could be created independently of the major race organisers such as the UCI and ASO, among others. Some of the world's elite teams have already backed the idea and it is gradually gaining support.

Three of the Fantastic Four: Wout Van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar. GETTY IMAGES
Three of the Fantastic Four: Wout Van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar. GETTY IMAGES

The teams are fighting for the importance that they deserve, both as teams and as the caretakers of the cyclists. The distribution of profits is said to be so poor, with cyclists receiving such a small percentage, that the idea of creating externally sponsored races is becoming increasingly popular. 

Beyond these manoeuvres, however, the cyclists - the golden generation - closed 2023 with numerous victories and are set out to dominate in 2024. For 2024, Tadej Pogacar, who will race the Giro d'Italia for the first time, has changed his approach. He aims to win both the Giro and the Tour. A feat not achieved since Marco Pantani in 1998.

In 2023, he has already won the Tour of Flanders, the Fleche Wallonne and the Giro di Lombardia, among other major classics. In 2024, however, he has his sights set on even greater achievements, including the challenge of winning the Olympic gold medal. Jonas Vingegaard has dethroned the Slovenian. 

By winning the Tour de France, he succeeds Pogacar, who won the French race in 2020 and 2021, in 2023 and 2022. Vingegaard's focus is solely on the Tour, but the 2024 edition in Paris is another challenge, both in terms of age and goals. 

Around them is the talent of Mathieu Van der Poel. In 2023, he will win the cyclocross and road world championships, as well as prestigious classics such as Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix. Van der Poel is a top contender to win in Paris in 2024. 

He would like to combine the world and Olympic titles. He has already made a strong start to the year in cyclocross, winning races in December 2023. He will be looking to continue his winning streak in January 2024. In both the cyclocross and road world championships,

Vingegaard also has her sights set on Olympic gold in Paris in 2024. GETTY IMAGES
Vingegaard also has her sights set on Olympic gold in Paris in 2024. GETTY IMAGES

Van Aert, his close rival, finished second to Van der Poel. His goals for 2024 are also different. He will make his debut at the Giro d'Italia, but Olympic gold thrill him and come at the perfect time, having just finished the Tour de France. Another member of the 'golden generation', Remco Evenepoel, is 23 years old - he turns 24 on 25 January - and also wants to be a protagonist at the Olympic Games.

The Belgian will be taking part in cycling's two biggest events: the Tour de France and the Olympic Games. He was the world time trial champion in 2023 and he also won the Vuelta a España and the road world championship, both in 2022. His ambition and his racing style have been a hit with the fans. These four riders have influenced the structures of cycling with their approach to the sport.

Their ability to win on all terrains and their racing style has captured the imagination of fans. This has also attracted television audiences. The desire to create a different scenario in which races are not organised by one side alone has been fuelled by this last element.

The possibility of creating of a super league is only a first concept. It is clear that the sponsors on whom the teams depend for 80 per cent of their budgets want to be present at the big races such as the Tour, the Giro and the Vuelta at the moment.

If there were to be a parallel creation, these teams would risk being excluded. These are obstacles that will be in place by 2024, but are not yet in place. What is certain is that all the best cyclists will be in their prime at the Paris 2024 Games. 

With the permission of the golden generation, 2023 will also see the successes of other cyclists such as Tom Pidcock. At 24 years of age, Pidcock is also in a different league within this generation. The Englishman is the reigning Olympic mountain bike champion. He is another favourite to challenge his rivals for the 2024 crown.

Remco Evenepoel aims another medal in Paris 2024. GETTY IMAGES
Remco Evenepoel aims another medal in Paris 2024. GETTY IMAGES

Not to mention veterans such as Primoz Roglic, a three-time Vuelta a España winner and 2023 Giro winner, who will join Bora in 2024 after leaving Jumbo-Visma. Roglic, a two-time Tour de France runner-up, is also a force to be reckoned with alongside Geraint Thomas, the Englishman who has raced in three Olympic Games (Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016) and won two gold medals in the pursuit events. 

Thomas also won the Tour de France in 2018 and, despite being 37 years old in 2023, finished second again in the Giro d'Italia. His potential is huge. For others, such as Egan Bernal, Julian Alaphilippe and Thibaut Pinot, 2024 will be an attempt to recapture past glories. But they are not yet on the same level as the four 'grandees'.

So 2024 will be the year when the most important generation of recent years joins the illustrious veterans. The veterans have not yet ceased to be competitive. This convergence will take place against the backdrop of the Olympic Games - the last chance for the veterans and the best chance for the young to win an Olympic medal.

It will also take place in a scenario where information about possible changes in strategy and possible competitions is developing at a rapid pace. But five elite teams have already come together to create this new competition outside the dominance of the current organisers. Everything has its peculiarities, but what is happening in football is also happening in cycling, although cycling has something that football doesn't: fans do not pay to watch cycling. 

Cycling is orphaned from the money that comes from ticket sales.