TOUR DE FRANCE 2023 | STAGE 1 | BILBAO > BILBAO
Stage 1 came down to a 1-2 by two twin brothers, a first in the history of the Tour de France. Adam and Simon Yates rode the finale together. The UAE Team Emirates punchy rider powered to victory in Bilbao while his team-mate Tadej Pogacar took third place and four seconds of time bonus in his duel with defending champion Jonas Vingegaard.
FIVE RIDERS IN THE LEAD
The start proper of stage 1 was given at 12.53. Five riders took off quickly: Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Simon Guglielmi (Arkea-Samsic), Pascal Eenkhorn (Lotto-Dstny), Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X) and Valentin Ferron (TotalEnergies). Gregaard attacked to crest the first categorized climb at the front 2’30’’ before the peloton while Eenkhorn managed to take the second place. Eenkhorn crested the climb of San Juan de Gaztelugatxae first, ahead of Guglielmi, and took the virtual lead of the KOM classification. Eenkhorn also won the intermediate sprint at Guernica, km 88, where the time difference between the leading five riders and the peloton went down to one minute. Jumbo-Visma, Alpecin-Deceuninck and Soudal-Quick Step were the most active teams at the helm of the bunch.
POWLESS FIRST KING OF THE MOUNTAINS
They were close to being caught with 75km to go but Guglielmi and Gregaard sped up again and the group was reunited with a stable advantage of 30’’. The bunch was packed again with 50km remaining. Sprinters got dropped in the climb to Murga: Mark Cavendish, Alexander Kristoff, Caleb Ewan, Peter Sagan, Dylan Groenewegen, Fabio Jakobsen… Jonas Abrahamsen took one KOM point at the top. Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) crested El Vivero in first position ahead of Georg Zimmerman (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), which meant taking the first polka dot jersey of the 2023 Tour de France. His team-mate Richard Carapaz crashed in the downhill, along with Enric Mas (Movistar) who was injured and became the first man to abandon the 110th Tour de France.
THE YATES TWINS MAKE A 1-2
Victor Lafay (Cofidis) was the only rider able to accompany Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard to the top of the Pike climb located 9.6km before the end. In the downhill, Adam and Simon Yates rode away after a small regrouping. They covered the last 8km together with an advantage of no more than 15 seconds. Adam took the lead in the final uphill stretch 400m before the line and remained ahead while his team-mate Tadej Pogacar raised his arms up in the air as it was a big victory for UAE Team Emirates. 12 riders including defending champion Jonas Vingegaard crossed the line 12 seconds after the stage winner.
ADAM YATES: “I’M SUPER HAPPY”
“Honestly, I don’t even know what to say. I’m just super happy. We set up the climb for Tadej [Pogacar], and then he attacked… but they eased up on the descent, and I came back. Then I attacked from behind and my brother came across to me, so we could work together. At first, I didn’t know if I should work with him, so I asked on the radio… and they told me to go.
“I knew Simon was doing well. We speak every day, as we are very close. To share this experience with him is very nice. I wish he had taken it a bit easier, though, as he almost dropped me in one moment!
“I had the yellow jersey once, 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 is the boss. He has proven to be the best in the world. 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. Over the next three weeks, it’s all for Tadej… and I’m sure we are going to do a good job.”
NEILSON POWLESS: “I’VE FULFILLED A CHILDHOOD DREAM”
“The Tour de France is the biggest bike race in the world and I grew up watching it, with the polka dot jersey always riding at the front of the race. Now I get to wear that jersey. I’ve fulfilled a childhood dream. We knew it was a possibility, yet not an easy one as we needed many things to come together. The break had to be caught ahead of the Vivero climb, and then we had to get me in a good position to sprint at the summit. My DS had told me that whoever went first into the final few hundred meters of the climb would get away with the KOM points, so I hit the head of the group very early and maybe caught more wind than necessary… Yet it is worth it.
“This polka dot jersey might become a goal from now on, but as of now I will just enjoy it for as long as I have it. I feel in really solid shape right now. It took me a while to recover after a heavy Spring. I spent several weeks at home with my wife, and on an altitude training camp. Now I’ve found back my best shape, just in time for the Tour de France. It’s been a mixed day for the team because of Richard Carapaz’s crash. I’m happy he got back on the bike and managed to finish the race. I hope he is okay because he is an amazing rider and can do a lot of things in this race if he is not too harmed.”
“It’s a superb team victory and it’s even better than when I win myself. This guy works for me and today I have the pleasure to see him winning. In addition, he takes the Maillot Jaune, which is great. I felt very good today. We had planned to go full gas in the last climb. It has worked out very well and Adam attacked and managed to go clear. It’s even better than what we hoped for. We can be proud of this work. We’ve showed that we’re strong and we have a good tactic.”