Winners and Losers of the Tour de France 2023 First Week

Le Tour de France 2023 Week 1 – Louemans

We have seen one of the most explosive and entertaining starts to a Tour de France in recent years, thanks to a difficult parcours and a brilliant general classification duel. Vingegaard and Pogačar are in a league of their own in the mountains, but each of the teams and riders have a lot of pressure to perform in the most important race of the year, even if it is not for the ultimate victory. In this article we will take a look at who is getting the most out of their riders at the once a year opportunity the Tour provides.

So far, Alpecin, UAE, Cofidis, Bora, Lidl-Trek and Israel are the six teams that have managed to win a stage, so most teams still have to complete their homework in this Tour. In the following graph, we can see the UCI points obtained by each team in these first nine stages. UAE and Jumbo (as usual this season) lead the classification, with the victories of Adam Yates and Pogačar and the places of honour achieved by Van Aert and Vingegaard.

The most surprising fact is that Soudal – QuickStep has been the worst team to date. In fact, Patrick Lefevere’s team has gone 28 stages in a row without a win at the Tour de France, their longest win drought since they blanked in the 2011 and 2012 Tour de France. Alaphilippe is not in great form and their leader Fabio Jakobsen crashed in the final kilometres of Stage 4 (at the Nogaro Autodrome) and has struggled to stay in the time limit in the Pyrenees. The Dutch sprinter is strongly rumoured to go to DSM next season and it would make sense for Soudal – QuickStep to finally focus on trying to win the Tour de France with Remco Evenepoel next year. Not only are Quickstep without a win, but on some stages like yesterday to Puy de Dôme, they have been caught short missing out completely on a successful breakaway when their day’s goal was to fight for the stage win from that move.

On the other hand, Alpecin have had a dream week, betting everything on their sprinter Jasper Philipsen, with three stage wins and currently the rider with the most UCI points in the Tour de France. So far their biggest superstar Mathieu van der Poel has performed largely as a domestique in this Tour, with great effect as the final man for Philipsen. Perhaps this will change in the second week where there are suitable breakaway stages for the Dutchman or maybe he is instead thinking about the World Championships in Glasgow, which will be contested just two weeks after the end of the Tour.

Anyway, the teams that have split their team with one block for sprints and another for the general classification are getting good results. Lidl-Trek was looking for the GC with Skjelmose, but they have already saved the Tour thanks to Pedersen’s sprint win. Bora provided invaluable support before Marie Blanque for Hindley’s winning breakaway and has also had three top10s in sprints with Meeus and Van Poppel. At Bahrain, Bauhaus has been their best rider (2nd, 3rd and 7th in the sprints), compensating in part for Mikel Landa’s loss in the GC. Jayco is also gaining prominence with Simon Yates and Groenewegen but of this block of teams perhaps DSM is the worst performer, with neither Bardet nor Welsford able to shine yet.

Most of the teams without a sprinter are in the bottom half of the UCI points standings so far in the Tour. With the benefit of hindsight, Groupama will be regretting not taking Démare to the Tour, with Gaudu already eighth in GC, more than three minutes off the podium. Movistar also left out García Cortina to focus on the general classification for Mas, who retired from the Tour on Stage 1 after a crash descending the Vivero climb. EF Education-EasyPost is also noticing the retirement of Carapaz, but Powless is taking centre stage thanks to the mountains jersey and frequent breakaway participations. All in all, it seems that having a second leader or a plan B is the best option if your leader is not Vingegaard or Pogačar.

05/07/2023 – Tour de France 2023 – Etape 5 – Pau / Laruns (162,7 km) – GAUDU David, VAN DEN BERG Lars, PACHER Quentin (GROUPAMA – FDJ)

Another highlight is the good performance of the ProTeams (Lotto, Israel, Uno-X and Total). Woods has justified the wildcard to Israel with his victory in Puy de Dôme after smartly losing time in the GC to enjoy more freedom. In addition, Uno-X is making a good debut in the Tour de France. In fact, four of the team’s eight riders (Johannessen, Kristoff, Tiller and Gregaard) have already achieved top-10 finishes on a stage, despite the crashes suffered by Træen and Wærenskjold.

Probably the most surprising team on the positive side is Cofidis. Lafay’s stage win was the team’s first since 2008, highlighting the difficulty of winning at the Tour. In addition, Coquard has finished in the top10 in each of the four sprints contested so far. Other WorldTeams like Ag2r, Intermarché or Arkéa are struggling much more to achieve such results. In the table below, you can see the last Tour victory of each of the participating teams, although Arkéa, Intermarché and Uno-X have never managed to win a stage.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of this first week of the Tour has been the lack of competitiveness in the early phase of the flat stages, either for the television exposure or to procure a sporting advantage. Stage 4 had no breakaway at all in its first 100 kilometres and Stage 7 had only Guglielmi (Arkéa) in the breakaway, after Oliveira (Movistar), Abrahamsen (Uno-X) and Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) quit the breakaway on team instructions. Despite placing that man in the breakaway, Arkéa managed a fourth place in the sprint with Mozzato on that seventh stage, better than Uno-X’s ninth with Kristoff and TotalEnergies’ 17th with Sagan.

This phenomenon can have several explanations and one of them is the high level of the invited teams, which have their own goals, including a designated sprinter. In the Giro or La Vuelta there are teams like Burgos BH or Corratec whose best way to stand out is to enter the breakaways of the flat stages and this avoids having stages without a breakaway. Moreover, the best rouleurs in the peloton (Küng, Politt, Castroviejo, Asgreen and Van Baarle) are typically busy working for their sprinters or taking care of their climbers, so the level of the breakaways in the flat stages is usually low.

In any case, it is curious that teams waste minutes (sometimes hours) of potential advertising exposure in their most important race of the year. If this trend continues, there should be fewer purely flat stages and instead add stages with some climbs like the stage won by Pedersen to Limoges. Perhaps this trend will even reverse within this Tour de France, with the overwhelming dominance of Philipsen and Alpecin’s lead-out train requiring teams with second-tier sprinters to re-assess whether a large bunch sprint is really their best chance of victory.

  1. Muy buenos datos.
    Increible que equipos que vinieron con la intensión y con buena oportunidad para etapas se encuentren de coleros al finalizar la semana: Los EF con Magnus, Bettiol; los Intermarche con Girmay y sobre todo los Soudal.

  2. The TV is not worth the soul crushing defeat when the sprinters teams never give you more than three minutes, and the chances of actually winning are lottery level bad. It is better to save your matches for an opportunity like stage 9, where the GC teams might be to busy looking at each other to hunt down the guys in the break like they are clay pigeons on a shooting range

  3. Perhaps teams are also realising most people only watch highlights or the last 20kms of flat stages and therefore, tv exposure is minimal too.

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