The 2023 Tour de France kicked off with a Grand Depart on July 1st in Bilbao in Spain’s Basque Country. The 110th edition will finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on July 23rd and should be an epic battle between defending Danish champion Jonas Vingegaard and Slovenian Tadej Pogačar, who won the 2020 and 2021 editions. With only 22 km of time trialing, this year’s race will be won and lost in the mountains. Pogačar’s form is a bit of a question mark after injury in April’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Nonetheless, we believe he will be fit, competitive, and in it for the win.
While the men finish in Paris, the women will begin in the French capital. This year’s Tour de France Femmes includes four flat stages, two hilly stages, one 22 km time trial and one mountain stage that finishes atop the mighty Tourmalet. The prize money still pales in comparison to the men (500,00 Euros vs. 2.3 million) but continues to improve. Dutch veteran Annemiek van Vleuten, last year’s winner has to be considered the favorite and has already won this year’s Vuelta. In 2022, she achieved something never before accomplished in men’s or women’s professional cycling by winning all three Grand Tours and the World Road Championship. However, last year’s QOM Demi Vollering, also Dutch, has emerged as a strong rival, pushing van Vleuten to the limit in the Vuelta and swept the hilly Ardennes classics in the spring.
Q1. Belgian Wout Van Aert won the green jersey (Points) competition in last year’s Tour and is a favorite to do so again. Many great Belgians have won (Vanderaerden, Maertens, Hoste, Planckaert) have won this over the years but back-to-back successes (unless your name is Peter Sagan or Erik Zabel) have been rare. Who was the last Belgian repeat points winner at Le Tour?
Q2. In 2015, Chris Froome won both the Mountains Classification and the Overall title at Le Tour. This pattern was repeated in 2020-22 with Tadej Pogacar (2020/21) and Jonas Vingegaard (2022). This is a new trend, however, for many years previous the King of the Mountains was not also the domain of overall winners. Prior to Froome, who was the GC winner to triumph in the KOM category as well?
Q3. Part A. Who has PARTICIPATED (started) the most Tours de France? Part B. Who has finished the most Tours de France?
Q4. Six teams contested the inaugural Tour Feminin, held in 1984: The Netherlands, Great Britain, the USA, Canada, France A, and France B. The Dutch so dominant today, were also dominant then winning FIFTEEN of the eighteen stages! American Marianne Martin won two stages enroute to her overall victory. Can you name the nationality of the other stage winner?
Q5. From 1985 to 1989, the Tour Feminin continued as “The Grand Boucle Feminine Internationale” and the field sizes and competitiveness grew, although the distances and number of days decreased. Whereas due to the 1984 Olympics, many nations sent “B teams”, later events featured the top women racers in the world. What was the best American finish during these years?
For answers, see page 2 below.