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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, July 1, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

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Tour de France: 2019

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, 2019: A Year of New Faces is available in both Kindle eBook and audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Team Jumbo-Visma full of ambition and confidence for the Basque Grand Depart

Here’s the team’s update:

The Tour de France, the biggest and most prestigious race of the year, is just around the corner. The 110th Tour de France will start in Bilbao on Saturday, July 1. Team Jumbo-Visma is chasing new triumphs with an eight-man squad full of ambition. Wout van Aert, Christophe, and defending champion Jonas Vingegaard look ahead.

Jonas Vingegaard at the teams presentation ceremony. Sirotti photo

The Tour de France will start outside France for the second consecutive year. After Copenhagen in 2022, the Basque city of Bilbao will host Le Grand Départ this year. The first week is unusual because it has quite a few altitude metres. The treacherous overture of La Grande Bouclé takes place in the Basque country, making the outcome difficult to predict.

Van Aert is looking forward to the tricky opening stages in the Basque country. “I like this start. Anything can happen on the first day. The climbs are still a bit too short for true climbers. For the riders who feel at home in the classics, it will be about keeping up and surviving the climbs. I am indeed very ambitious. Of course, I will try to win the opening stage and take the first yellow jersey.”

After last year’s success, Team Jumbo-Visma has high expectations for this year. With Vingegaard, the Dutch outfit aims to extend their title. “As the defending champions, we are among the favourites to win the Tour de France. It doesn’t put any extra pressure on me. Little has changed for me compared to last year. We start in Bilbao with the same goal. The first week will be tough, so we must start off on guard”, Vingegaard says.

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The 26-year-old Dane continues: “I think the second and third weeks will be crucial. Because this Tour includes no fewer than five mountains, it is difficult to predict where the focus will be. Thanks to my good preparation, I’m more than ready for this tough Tour de France.”

The latter is a justified characterisation for the French grand tour. The 2023 edition will feature a record seventy climbs. The riders will race 21 stages over almost 3,500 kilometres from Bilbao to Paris. On Sunday, July 23, the last stage will traditionally take place on the Champs-Elysées in the French capital.

“Of course, I want to win stages”, Van Aert says. “The Tour de France is the biggest cycling race in the world. For us riders, it’s like the holy grail. I will start on Saturday in good shape and look forward to it. In addition to pursuing our individual goals, we work as a team to accomplish our main goal. We know our capabilities and know what it takes to win the Tour. Besides, we showed last year that we can chase, but defending the yellow jersey also suited us.”

Laporte says he had his best day on the bike during last year’s Tour. “Winning the stage was an indescribable moment. There may be another opportunity to take my own chance in the upcoming weeks, but I am focusing on achieving our common goal for now. With this strong team, we are confident of a good result.”

Vingegaard is aware of his main rivals but is not one to pick favourites. “In my opinion, quite a few riders are capable of competing for the overall victory. I don’t consider anyone or myself the favourite. Although my personality hasn’t changed much in the past year, my development as an athlete has. We will see who wears the yellow jersey in three weeks.”

In addition to the trio of Vingegaard, Van Aert, and Laporte, the Jumbo-Visma squad also includes Belgians Tiesj Benoot and Nathan van Hooydonck, Dutchmen Wilco Kelderman and Dylan van Baarle and American Sepp Kuss.

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Intermarché-Circus-Wanty reveals its Tour de France roster

Here’s the team’s Tour update:

On Saturday 1st of July, Intermarché-Circus-Wanty will start its sixth Tour de France in Bilbao, in the Basque Country. In order to shine, the Walloon World Team selected a solid and experienced team, with three Tour de France stage winners and several former jersey wearers.

Intermarché-Circus-Wanty rider Biniam Girmay at the teams presentation ceremony.

In total, the 110th edition contains eight mountain stages among which four mountain top finishes, eight stages suited for sprinters, only one 22 kilometer time trial and three days out of the French territory in the Basque Country to start with.

The first yellow jersey will be distributed after a hilly stage around Bilbao with more than 3000 meters of climbing, followed the next day by another hilly stage with the Alto de Jaizkibel 20 kilometer before the finish. The peloton then heads to France for two opportunities for sprinters, followed by a first fight in the Pyrenees towards Laruns on day five.

Ski station Cauterets-Campbasque will be the theatre of the first mountain top finish on day six, preceded by the Col d’Aspin and the Col du Tourmalet. After two new opportunities for sprinters, the peloton will return to the Puy de Dôme for the first time in 35 years, with a summit finish in the Massif Central to conclude the first week.

The rest day in Clermont-Ferrand will be followed by three days for the strong riders, before reaching the Jura for a finish on top of the Grand Colombier on July 14th. Then, two stages with over 4000 meter of climbing in the Alps await the riders, with the first one finishing in Morzine after the downhill of the Col de Joux-Plane and the second one on top of Saint-Gervais – Mont Blanc, where the peloton will start the second restday.

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The only time trial opens the third week in the Haute-Savoie, containing the Côte de Domancy (2.5 km at 9.4%) as final part of the 22 kilometer stage. The next day, the seventeenth stage contains four major difficulties among whom the Col de la Loze, which is with its 2304 meters of altitude the roof of this edition, and the final climb to the Altiport de Courchevel to conclude this queen stage with more than 5000 meters of climbing.

The sprinters can then benefit of two opportunities before a final fight for the climbers in the Vosges on day twenty, a 133 kilometer stage finishing with the Col du Platzerwasel. Following the tradition, the 110th edition is concluded with a 21st stage on the Parisian circuit on the Champs-Elysées.

Thanks to his seventh place in the edition of 2022, Louis Meintjes achieved the first top ten of the Walloon team in the final classification. The South-African rider, who already finished twice in eighth place before (2016 and 2017), will for the third year in a row receive the support of Georg Zimmermann, winner of the sixth stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné to Crest-Voland earlier this month.

For his debut in the Tour de France, Biniam Girmay will lead the selection in the sprint stages. Just like in his victorious sprint in de Tour de Suisse, he can rely on the experience of Adrien Petit and former yellow jersey wearer and stage winner Mike Teunissen. Last named won in the Tour of Norway last month, his first victory since the Tour of 2019.

With Rui Costa and Lilian Calmejane, the selection contains two other stage winners. The former world champion won three stages in the Tour and will participate for the eleventh time. Calmejane, winner in 2017 on Station des Rousses and polkadot jersey wearer, will be at the start for the fifth time.

Finally, Dion Smith returns to the Tour for the first time since he entered history in 2018, by becoming the first rider of his country and of the team of Jean-François Bourlart to wear a distinctive jersey in the most prestigious race in the world. The New-Zealander offered himself the honour to wear the polkadot jersey during three days.

The sportive direction of the team is assured by Aike Visbeek, Steven De Neef, Laurenzo Lapage and Pieter Vanspeybrouck.

“Our ambition for the Tour 2023 is to take our very first stage win and to finish in the top ten of the final classification. To achieve this, last winter we built a strong and experienced group around our leaders Biniam Girmay and Louis Meintjes. This group raced often together and this from our first races of the season on Majorca. In May, our preselection started a specific preparation with a collective altitude camp and two parallel race programmes. A larger selection benefited from this preparation, which enabled us to fill in the absences of Kobe Goossens and Rune Herregodts. We can head to Bilbao with confidence.” - Aike Visbeek (Performance Manager)

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