of course, favorites, ambitions of the French, what awaits us in 2023

An exit from Spain, a vengeful Pogacar against a Jumbo-Visma team that 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 does not lack spice.

A course for attackers

The 2023 Tour will start in Spain (1st stage on 1huh July around Bilbao, before the 2nde stage between Vitoria and San Sebastià; the 3e stage leaving Amorebieta-Etxano before heading towards France). Tour director Christian Prudhomme says: “ For two years now, the first week has clearly been made for punchers. We know the best punchers: Wout van Aert was phenomenal, the flight of the seagull was wonderful, Mathieu van der Poel was there but non-existent and Julian Alaphilippe was unfortunately not there and still we had a show. It depends on the drivers, but next year there will be an exit of punchers and that is very good. I hope we have Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert, of course. I don’t want to say that it can be even better, but if riders who feel limited in the high mountains, but have phenomenal ability, want to use the first week to progress in general, not just to be at the top for a week but to advance longer, they will have a lot to do… Thierry Gouvenu, technical director of the Grande Boucle, completes: The spirit will be the same. We know we can’t offer flat scenarios where nothing much happens. The way we competed this year encourages us to do the same. The stages like Calais, it was beautiful. The last 30 kilometers to Cahors were great. And the Granon was exceptional. We won’t wait 30 years to go back. 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 that he can extend his dominance in this Tour. Before submitting to the law of the Jumbo-Visma team. Talented, proud, young (23), the leader of the UAE Team Emirates team learned a lot during a Tour during which he flew over the cobblestones, put on seven-league boots for a long time to crush obstacles, before to sell The one who had never lived a day without in the Tour broke at the Col du Granon (11e stage), then on the final ascent of Hautacam (18e). His pride as a champion allowed him to recover quickly. And ask for an appointment. Their response will be individual and collective. Vengeful Tadej Pogacar will be a serious customer at the start of his 4th Tour on 1huh July 2023 in Bilbao. The date flashes in his head and he’s not about to leave.

Tadej Pogacar recognized the superiority of Jonas Vingegaard in 2022. But in 2023? CHRISTIAN HARTMANN / PANORAMIC

Ineos, the third force?

Geraint Thomas, at the age of 36, set his 3e podium (winner in 2018, 2e in 2019) but the leader of the British team (formerly Sky) who won seven of eight Tours between 2012 and 2020 (before Tadej Pogacar came on the scene) could, in 2023, rely on the great return of Egan Bernal . The Colombian, victim of a terrible fall in Colombia during practice last January, hopes to find his place in the peloton. His presence, if the 2019 Tour winner manages to pick up all the pieces of a performance that barely lets those who miss the train, could offer Ineos a wider variety of strategies to accompany promising Thomas Pidcock, superb winning stage in Alpe d’Huez after a balance on the Col de la Croix de Fer and the experienced Geraint Thomas.

Will Team Ineos join the fray with Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates? ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT / AFP

The great return of Julian Alaphilippe

He was the big absentee of the 2022 edition. Julian Alaphilippe did not participate in the Tour de France because he was not sufficiently recovered from his terrible fall in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Without their leader, French cycling has struggled to shine as the 2022 route was precisely carved out, 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 jersey, again two stages in 2019, winner of the spirit jersey of fight and wear the yellow jersey for 14 days, winner of a stage in 2020 and yellow jersey for three days, and winner of a stage in 2021 in the yellow jersey for one day. His return, at the age of 31, can only do good for French cycling.

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A puzzle that will come to Jumbo-Visma

With Jonas Vingegaard, Primoz Roglic and Wout van Aert, the board’s top line-up has three potential leaders in its squad. An exceptional wealth that 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 in the first week, may have lost his chance, the Dane and Belgian can legitimately claim the final victory in a year. Luxury lieutenant this year, will Van Aert be content to stay long in the shadow of the winner of the 2022 edition 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, however, will have to prove that he is capable of maintaining his exceptional level for three weeks without fail.

French leaders on the attack?

What should we expect from the French in 2023 after a mixed edition in 2022 (a stage win)? The dilemma is likely to repeat itself for some, with, on the one hand, the temptation to play for the general classification and, on the other hand, the desire to let this goal slip in order to have starting tickets and shine through the stage wins “It’s better to try to win a stage, that would be just as good. Winning on July 14 in Alpe d’Huez, we will remember it for the rest of our lives. I think it’s better than a Top 10. Nobody knows who finished 10th last year. It’s more important to win stages“, caught Bernard Hinault calling on his compatriots to take risks. Will the five-time winner of the Tour de France be heard?

Will David Gaudu still favor general classification over stage wins in 2023? ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT / AFP

SEE ALSO – Jonas Vingegaard, winner of the Tour de France: “It’s hard to believe”

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