A departure from Spain, a vengeful Pogacar against a Jumbo-Visma team who will have to manage several leaders, the return of Julian Alaphilippe and the French who we hope will be even more offensive: the next Tour de France is not lacking in spice.
A course for attackers
The 2023 Tour will start in Spain (1st stage on 1er July around Bilbao, before the 2e stage between Vitoria and San Sebastian; the 3e stage starting from Amorebieta-Etxano before heading towards France). Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour, plants: “ For the past two years, the first week has clearly been made for the punchers. We know the best punchers: Wout van Aert was phenomenal, the flight of the gull was wonderful, Mathieu van der Poel was there but non-existent and Julian Alaphilippe unfortunately was not there and yet we had a show. It depends on the riders but next year there will be a start of punchers and that’s very good. I hope we will have Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert of course. I don’t want to say it can be even better but if riders who feel limited in the high mountains, but otherwise have phenomenal ability, want to use the first week to get ahead overall, not just to be ahead for a week but to be ahead longer, they will have plenty to do… ” Thierry Gouvenu, technical director of the Grande Boucle, completes: “ The spirit will be the same. We know that we cannot offer flat stages where not much is happening. The way of racing this year encourages us to do the same. The stages like Calais, it was beautiful. The last 30 kilometers to Cahors was great. And the Granon was exceptional. We won’t wait 30 years to come back to it. These arrivals in the middle of nature, it’s magnificent… »
A vengeful Pogacar
The Slovenian, winner of the Tour de France in 2020 and 2021, has long given the impression of being able to extend his domination on this Tour. Before undergoing the law of the Jumbo-Visma team. Talented, proud, young (23 years old), the leader of the UAE Team Emirates team learned a lot during a Tour during which he flew over the cobblestones, put on his seven-league boots for a long time to crush obstacles, before to sell. He who had never known a day without on the Tour broke down in the Col du Granon (11e stage), then in the final ascent of Hautacam (18e). His pride as a champion allowed him to quickly bounce back. And make an appointment. Its response will be individual and collective. Tadej Pogacar, revengeful, will be a serious client at the start of his 4th Tour, the 1er July 2023 in Bilbao. The date flashes in his mind and isn’t about to go out.
Ineos, the third force?
Geraint Thomas, at 36, pinned his 3e podium (winner in 2018, 2e in 2019) but the leader of the British team (formerly Sky) winner of seven out of eight Tours between 2012 and 2020 (before Tadej Pogacar enters the scene) could, in 2023, rely on the great return of Egan Bernal . The Colombian, victim of a terrible fall in Colombia during an internship last January, hopes to be able to find his place in the peloton. His presence, if the winner of the 2019 Tour manages to pick up all the pieces of a performance that hardly leaves those who let the train slip by, could offer Ineos a variety of broader strategies to accompany the promising Thomas Pidcock, superb winner stage in Alpe d’Huez after a balancing act in the Col de la Croix de Fer and the experienced Geraint Thomas.
The great return of Julian Alaphilippe
He was the big absentee from the 2022 edition. Julian Alaphilippe did not take part in the Tour de France because he was insufficiently recovered from his terrible fall in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Without its leader, French cycling has struggled to shine when the 2022 route was precisely cut, especially in its first week, for punchers like him. Since 2018, the double world champion had systematically left his mark on the event and made the French shine: two stages in 2018 and the best climber’s jersey, again two stages in 2019, winner of the fighting spirit jersey and wearer of the jersey yellow for 14 days, winner of a stage in 2020 and yellow jersey for three days, and winner of a stage in 2021 wearing the yellow jersey for one day. His return, at 31, can only do good for French cycling.
The twelve striking images of the Tour de France 2022
A puzzle to come at Jumbo-Visma
With Jonas Vingegaard, Primoz Roglic and Wout van Aert, the best formation on the board has three potential leaders in its team. An exceptional wealth which could quickly become problematic for the leaders of the Dutch formation. If Primoz Roglic, forced to retire at the start of the 15th stage after being injured during the first week, may have missed his chance, the Dane and the Belgian can legitimately claim final victory in a year. Luxury lieutenant this year, will Van Aert be content to stay in the shadow of the winner of the 2022 edition for a long time after winning the green jersey for the best sprinter and three stages? “If Wout wants to be a climber, of course I can share the leadership with him», Dropped Jonas Vingegaard on Saturday evening after the Rocamadour time trial. Van Aert will however have to prove that he is capable of maintaining his exceptional level for three weeks without failing.
French leaders on the attack?
What should we expect from the French in 2023 after a contrasting 2022 edition (a stage victory)? The dilemma is likely to be repeated for some, with, on the one hand, the temptation to play for the general classification and, on the other, the desire to let this objective slip away in order to have exit tickets and shine by going for the victories of stage. “It is better to try to go for stage wins, that would be just as good. By winning on July 14 at Alpe d’Huez, we will remember it for life. I think it’s better than a Top 10. Nobody knows who finished 10th last year. It’s more important to win stages“, Hammered Bernard Hinault calling on his compatriots to take risks. Will the five-time winner of the Tour de France be heard?
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