Here’s a good description of the type of terrain today’s riders are riding in the Basque Country: constantly undulating
Should we read anything into the fact that UAE Team Emirates are helping Jumbo-Visma, Soudal-QuickStep and Alpecin-Deceuninck lead the peloton? Their leader Tadej Pogačar looks like a top favorite for the stage win, but there are doubts about his fitness following his wrist injury and long time in the race. Does their absence from the front indicate that he still does not feel?
1-45 lead, 130km to go
All is well on the road for now. Riders have some rolling roads to navigate before the next climb, the Côte de San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, about 15km away
Incidentally, the weather outside was mild, not particularly hot and with gray clouds, but there seemed to be no threat of rain for which the Basque is known.
140 KM AWAY
1-30 now for rest. The peloton seems eager to keep them pegged at a manageable rate, but not bring them back.
The presence of Soudal-QuickStep, Alpecin-Deceuninck and Jumbo-Visma suggests that their respective riders Julian Alaphlippe, Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert fancy their chances of winning today’s stage. These three have battled many times in the past, but the big question this time is whether they can beat the GC men and climb the 10% average gradient of the final climb, the 2km Côte de Pike, more cleanly.
150 KM FORWARD
1-23 now for the five-man break at the top of the peloton
Christophe Laporte is also spinning at the front. It says a lot about Jumbo-Visma’s strength in depth that they can use a quality rider like Laporte in an early pace-setting role.
Despite initially building a large gap, this break may not be as secure as the first. Their lead was now down to just over a minute. Alpecin Deceuninck’s Silvan Dillier shares the pace-setting with Soudal-QuickStep’s Declercq, and although they don’t appear to be chasing hard, the gap is closing even
Crowds greet riders as they pass through Portugalete, a suburb of Bilbao. You could say we are in a region known as cycling’s heartlands.
160 KM AWAY
Some discussion between the riders during the break. They might be a bit worried as the gap has come down to around 1-40
Guess who’s at the front of the peloton — the tireless Tim Declercq! The Soudal-QuickStep domestique is back for a fourth Tour de France after missing last year, and is fulfilling his role as an early pace-setter
Although a stage win and yellow jersey is unlikely for the five riders in the break, given the number of big name riders and teams who will be chasing their chances today, each has a real chance of making it on the podium at the end of the day wearing the iconic polka-dot jersey at the head of the mountain classification. There are four more categorized climbs to come, with a maximum of ten points still on offer
The pace of the climb was slower in the peloton, led by Alpecin-Deceuninck. Their deficit is now up to 2-20
Gregaard took the 2 points on offer. Eenkhoorn tried to chase him but he sat down, settling by 1 point on the second rider on top.
Now Gregaard is attacking, and he has space. 500m to the top
Calmejane is clearly focused on KOM points. He had already tried to attack his companions who had separated 1km from the top. He didn’t make it clear, but he made his purpose clear
170 KM AWAY
A 1-30 lead for today’s break, having just started on the first categorized climb of the day, the category three Côte de Laukiz
One minute now for a break. It looks like they will be the five riders who will dominate television coverage for most of the day
Maybe this is the day’s break? The bunch spread out on the road and no one else was jumping on it, as the gap had grown to 40 seconds.
Valentin Ferron (TotalEnergies), Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X), Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto Dstny) and Simon Guglielmi (Arkéa Samsic) are the four riders, and they are joined by another, Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché – Circus – Wanty)
And the attacks were immediately launched, with four riders on the road
Christian Prudhomme waves the flag and the race proper begins!
About 5km before the official start, which should take around ten minutes.
As expected, a large crowd gathered in Bilbao to congratulate the riders, who had about an inch of space on the roadside during the neutral start.
And off they go, the 2023 Tour de France is underway!
We are only ten minutes away from a neutralized start, which will show what host city Bilbao has to offer.
This opening stage in Bilbao looks to be a thrilling start, with the hilly parcours looking set to bring out Tadej Pogačar, Jonas Vingegaard and the other GC contenders from the start, as well as classic stars such as Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel, Julian Alaphilippe and Tom Pidcock. For a deeper look, here’s our preview
Finally, after weeks of speculation, gossip and debate, it’s here — the Tour de France. As is the case every year, the hype has built and built until now, and now we finally get to enjoy some racing.
Bonjour and welcome to our coverage of stage 1 of the Tour de France 2023!
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