Yates Wins Stage 1 of Tour de France
Stage 1 of the long-awaited Tour de France 2023 took place in the Basque Country. The 182-kilometer stage took the riders from Bilbao to Bilbao on a challenging route that featured one Category 4 climb, three Category 3 climbs, and one Category 2 climb. The stage was partially contested in hilly terrain on small roads and along the coast, where strong winds could prove a decisive factor. Pre-race favorites for the stage victory included Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek), and Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep).
Bilbao is situated in northwestern Spain. Located near the coast, Bilbao is the largest city of the Basque Country and the province of Biscay. An important hub in the Crown of Castile, Bilbao later became known as a center for heavy industry. In recent years Bilbao has morphed into a center of tourism – a conversion process initiated by the construction of the architectonically interesting Guggenheim Museum.
Stage 1 of Tour de France 2023 started outside the famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the neutralized start phase took the riders along a scenic route that promoted Bilbao’s attractions to spectators around the world.
It did not take long before breakaway hungering riders launched attacks to establish a breakaway group. A five-man group proved successful at forming a maintainable gap. The group featured Lilian Calmejane (Intermarche-Circus-Wanty), Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto-Dstny), Simon Guglielmi (Team Arkea-Samsic), Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), and TotalEnergies’ Valentin Ferron.
With 168.7 kilometers left, Gregaard attacked from the front group before the top of the Category 3 Cote de Laukiz. Gregaard was first over the top of the climb and thereby secured two valuable points for the Best Climber Competition.
Jumbo-Visma, Alpecin-Deceuninck, and Soudal-QuickStep were taking charge at the front of the main peloton, and they kept the breakaway hopefuls on a tight leash. The advantage of the front group peaked at approximately 02:30 minutes and was then reduced to 01:30 minutes.
With approximately 110 kilometers left of today’s stage, the riders were tested on the Category 3 Cote de San Juan de Gaztelugatxe – a location known from season 7 of Game of Thrones. Gregaard attacked from the front group to secure more climber classification points but was beaten by Eenkhoorn and Guglielmi.
75 kilometers from the finish line the advantage of the breakaway quintet had been reduced to fifteen seconds.
The breakaway group was caught with fifty kilometers left of stage 1.
Several teams moved to the front of the peloton shortly before the top of the category 4 Cote de Morga in order to protect their team leaders on the descent that would follow. UAE Team Emirates, EF Education-EasyPost, Jumbo-Visma, Lidl-Trek, and Lotto-Dstny were very active.
Racing was intense on the Cote de Vivero (Category 2). Team DSM, Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates moved to the front. UAE Team Emirates’ Mikkel Bjerg delivered a strong effort at the front to set an excruciating pace. Riders were dropped from the back of the peloton.
Neilson Powless moved to the front for EF Education-EasyPost. He was joined by Jumbo-Visma riders. Powless won the sprint at the top of the climb and gained five points in the climber competition. He will wear the polka dot jersey in tomorrow’s stage 2 as leader of the best climber competition.
On the descent Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost), James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost), and Movistar’s Enric Mas crashed heavily. Shaw and Carapaz got back on their bikes, while Mas was being observed for concussion symptoms. Mas later abandoned.
On the Cote de Pike (Category 3) Felix Grosschartner accelerated from the front and formed a gap. He then waited for his UAE Team Emirates mates. Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) attacked, but was reeled in.
Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates), Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), and Jumbo-Visma’s Jonas Vingegaard attacked. Cofidis’ Victor Lafay joined them and attacked solo. Yates was dropped.
Pogacar was first over the top, followed by Vingegaard and Lafay. Ten kilometers remained.
Adam Yates and Jayco-Alula’s Simon Yates attacked and formed a strong front duo. A group of strong general classification favorites formed fifteen seconds behind them.
The Yates-brothers duo had a twenty second advantage when they entered the final kilometer.
Adam Yates was first across the finish line and thereby won stage 1 and took the general classification lead in Tour de France 2023. Brother Simon Yates finished second, while Pogacar completed the stage podium four seconds later. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) finished fourth. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) finished seventh, Skjelmose eighth, Vingegaard ninth, and David completed the top ten for Groupama-FDJ.
“Honestly, I don’t even know what to say. I’m just super happy. It’s always a big honor and a privilege to win a stage at the Tour de France,” Adam Yates told Roadcycling.com shortly after the finish.
“We set up the climb for Tadej (Pogacar) and then he attacked. But he and Vingegaard looked at each other in the descent, and I came back. Then I attacked from behind and my brother Simon came across to me, so we could work together. At first, I didn’t know if I should work with my brother, so I asked the sports director on the radio and he told me to go,” Yates explained.
“I had the yellow jersey in 2020 and back then it was a special moment. But as of now I just want to keep my feet on the ground. Tadej (Pogacar) is the boss. He has proven to be the best in the world and over the next three weeks he will show it again. I’m not the leader of the team, but rather a support rider for Tadej. I’m sure we are going to do a good job at taking the race on and gaining as much time as possible with him,” Yates concluded.
EF Education-EasyPost very disappointingly had no riders in the top 45. Powless lost 01:32 minutes, Esteban Chaves lost 04:59 minutes, Rigoberto 05:36 minutes, and Carapaz crashed. The team is obviously still in the need of an experienced road captain to help the team navigate through Grand Tours and position their riders optimally and safe in the peloton. The team has also yet to discover the value of bonus seconds – they have systematically neglected this important element in all Grand Tours they’ve participated in so far.
Sunday’s stage 2 of Tour de France 2023 will be a 208.9-kilometer ride on a hilly and challenging route from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Saint-Sebastien. The route features the famous jaizkibel climb known from San Sebastian Classic.
Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for complete coverage from Tour de France 2023 and visit Wiggle to buy bikes, cycling equipment and apparel. Take advantage of the great sale offers and stock up before inflation increases prices.