Tour de France 2023: GC Favourites

Tadej pogacar - Tour de France 2023: GC Favouritesfoto: Cor VosTadej Pogacar is on fire this season. He pockets both stage races and classics with remarkable ease. But so did he last year and still Jonas Vingegaard was able to dislodge the two-time champion. brings you the pre-race favourites to win the 2023 Tour de France.

[Underneath text was written before the start of the Tour de France and has not been updated]

Are Jonas Vingegaard and his Jumbo-Visma team mates able to challenge the 24 year old phenomenon from Slovenia again? His 2020 win came as a surprise. The Jumbo Bees were in control during the whole race until their then leader Primoz Roglic succumbed in the Planche des Belles Filles ITT and Tadej Pogacar ran away with the yellow jersey.

Pogacar’s 2021 triumph came as no surprise whatsoever and last year he continued in his omnipotent ways until Jumbo-Visma rolled out some incredible team tactics. It was not one rider who dislodged Pogacar, it was a team effort. After isolating the defending champion, the 11th stage saw Roglic and Vingegaard taking turns on the attack, afer which the Dane finished it off in the final climb. And Van Aert worked as Pogacar’s executioner in the Hautacam climb on the eighteenth day of action. He set such a brutal pace that Pogacar cracked and the two Jumbo Bees marched on together. Vingegaard took both the stage and the Tour de France win in Hautacam.

Tadej Pogacar - Tour de France 2023: GC Favourites

Sheer dominance
Pogacar’s dominant performance this season is even more impressive than last year’s spring campaign. He kicked off in February with a win in the new gravel classic Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior and continued his winning streak in the Ruta del Sol (GC plus three stages), Paris-Nice (GC plus three stages) and the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne. He was the hot favourite to add Liège-Bastogne-Liège to his tally also, but he crashed out with scaphoid fracture in his left wrist and did not race until the Slovenian national championships. He returned with a bang, winning the (mountain) time trial with a 5 minutes margin. Three days later he added the national road race title to his tally.

How many percent will Pogacar be missing after his training setback? Probably zilch. Chances are that he is more than ever ready to rumble. Or, in the case of Pogacar, it’s better to state that he is ready to have fun again. He seems to be racing for the sheer fun of it and victories come as a byproduct.

The only races in which he started this season without winning are the E3 and Milan-San Remo. On both occassions he was up there in the finale, but he had to settle for third and fourth place, respectively.

Jonas Vingegaard itzulia - Tour de France 2023: GC Favourites

Pogacar versus Vingegaard
The only 2023 clash between the two most recent Tour de France winners happened on Paris-Nice and Pogacar outperformed his rival with remarkable ease. Vingeaard was happy if he could hold the wheel of the Slovene, but that was about it. Pogacar was in complete control and a minor acceleration was enough to solo to one of his three stage wins. So if the Race to the Sun is an indicator, Vingegaard will only stand a chance to win Le Tour again if something nasty happens to Pogacar.

Obviously, past performances are no guarantee for future wins. And it’s insane to expect a three month old race to predict the Tour de France outcome. Yet, Pogacar’s dominance was staggering.

Not that Vingegaard was riding a tricycle between Ferrari’s during his 2023 campaign. On the contrary. The title defender pulled off a ‘Pogacar’ (GC plus three stages) in the O Gran Camiño only to repeat that in the Tour of the Basque Country. Recently, he won the Critérium du Dauphiné in similar fashion – GC plus two stages.

Adam Yates - Tour de France 2023: GC Favourites

And what about the others?
Given the dominance of a select group of riders, other GC contenders did not have a lot of opportunities to make a name for themselves. Not only Pogacar emerged as a gluton, Roglic did the same by winning the Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of Catalunya and Giro d’Italia. As said, Vingegaard turned out on top in the Tour of the Basque Country and the Dauphiné.

The two remaining stage races on the UCI WorldTour – Tour de Suisse and Tour de Romandie – were won by Mattias Skjelmose and Adam Yates, respectectively. It was the first big win for the 22-year old Dane, who used to be considered a hilly specialist, but seems to have reinvented himself as a GC contender. And as far as Yates in concerned. If things work out the way they should, Yates is not going to be a GC contender on the Tour de France, as he is riding as a super domestique for Pogacar. By contracting the Briton, UAE Emirates aims to avoid last year’s scenario in which Pogacar becomes isolated in the mountains, leaving him to the tender mercies of the Jumbo Bees.

It goes without saying that Vingegaard/Jumbo-Visma and Pogacar/UAE Emirates will be watching each other closely in the Tour de France. Other riders could benefit from this mutual obsession. David Gaudu for instance. The great French hope on the Tour de France was up there with the Dane and Slovene on the Race to the Sun. In fact, he finished in second, behind Pogacar, but ahead of Vingegaard. The Tour of the Basque Country was less satisfying for the Groupama-FDJ leader, as he did not stand a chance against Vingegaard and finishes in fourth. The Dauphiné was even more disappointing, as he finished 25 minutes down on Vingegaard.

Same story for Mikel Landa. He was invisible on the Dauphiné and was dropped on most of the climbs. Let’s say he was causing a smokescreen for his rivals and is actually in tip-top shape. After all, he was the best of the rest in the Tour of the Basque Country. But still, it will be a huge suprise if he would win the Tour de France. A podium spot, at best. The Basque stylist never won a multi day stage race in his career.

How about Enric Mas? Movistar’s leader shone brightly on La Vuelta in recent years and aims to the same on Le Tour. Both in 2021 and 2022, he finished in second in his homerace. That said, he never won a stage race either, and it would be spectacular if he bucked this trend in the biggest race on the planet.

Richard Carapaz, that’s another story. His 2023 campaign hasn’t been commanding, to say the least, but he did finish on the podium in the Tour de France of two years ago. Moreover, he was up there with Pogacar and Vingegaard in the decisive high altitude finales. He is a fighter and a winner, who is not dropped easily. The Ecuadorian won a Grand Tour before (Giro, 2019) and also turned out on top in the Tour de Suisse (2021). Not to mention that he is Olympic gold medalist (Tokio, 2021).

Simon Yates is another Grand Tour winner. The Briton won the 2018 Vuelta a España after missing out on the Giro d’Italia triumph earlier that year. Two years later he also won the Tirreno-Adriatico before he gradually turned into a stage hunter. Arguably, Yates is one of the darkest horses for a Tour de France win. Nobody really sees him as a GC contender anymore, while he does have the skill set.

Jai Hindley also tasted the sweetness of success in a Grand Tour. Last year he took the Giro d’Italia somewhat by surprise. Although it’s kind of strange that it was a suprise. Three years ago he lost the maglia rosa on the final day to Tao Geoghegan Hart, so his credentials are solid.

Hindley is a strong candidate for the podium. He finished in fourth in the Dauphiné, one spot behind his compatriot Ben O’Connor, who is also expected to excell in France. Adam Yates finished in second, which is obviously good news for his leader.

GC Favourites Tour de France 2023

***** Jonas Vingegaard, Tadej Pogacar
**** Richard Carapaz, Simon Yates, Jai Hindley
*** Mikel Landa, Adam Yates, Ben O’Connor, Romain Bardet
** Enric Mas, Egan Bernal, David Gaudu, Daniel Felipe Martínez
* Alexey Lutsenko, Pello Bilbao, Carlos Rodriguez, Mattias Skjelmose

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