Julian Alaphilippe, in Bilbao (Spain), June 29, 2023. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP
Every year for almost forty years, the same painful reminder: you have to go back to 1985 to find the trace of a tricolor winner of the Tour de France, Bernard Hinault. If the 110th edition, which starts from Bilbao (Spain), Saturday July 1, is promised to a duel between the Danish title holder, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), and the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), some of the 32 French on the starting list could shine. With different goals.
They are aiming for the general classification
Fourth in 2022, David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) is certainly the best French chance in the general classification. “Aiming for the podium is not going to be an easy task, but I have to be the best of the outsiders”, he assured at a press conference on Thursday. His form in the French championship (15th), Sunday June 25, where he made great efforts, reassured after a Critérium du Dauphiné crossed like a soul in pain. At the end of the last stage, in Grenoble, he was in 30th place, 25 s 49 behind the winner. This performance had calmed the ardor born of his magnificent Paris-Nice, at the beginning of March. Second behind Tadej Pogacar, he even overtook Jonas Vingegaard to become the first Frenchman to climb on the podium of the “race to the sun” since Arthur Vichot (3rd), in 2014.
Read also: Route of the Tour de France 2023: departure in Bilbao, the Grand Colombier for July 14 and return to the puy de Dôme…
Romain Bardet (DSM-Firmenich) is a monster of regularity in the Tour de France. Second in 2016 and third in 2017, he finished six of his eight Grandes Boucles in the top 10, including a sixth place in 2022 thanks to the disqualification – for a positive tramadol test – of Colombian climber Nairo Quintana. Seventh in Paris-Nice, Bardet was in good shape during the recent Tour de Suisse (5th). The Auvergnat will certainly be keen to shine during the 9th stage, whose arrival at the top of the Puy de Dôme is located right next to his home.
A year after his retirement due to Covid-19 on the morning of the 9th stage, Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) finds the Tour de France, which he will start for the seventh time. Before his retirement in 2022, the Normand progressed from year to year, until his eighth place overall in 2021. Even without a victory, his start to the season is good, like his recent sixth place in the Critérium Dauphiné, in June.
They aim for stage wins
For the last Tour de France of his career, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) should not get involved in the fight for the general classification. “The objectives are simple: to help and support David [Gaudu] the longest time in the mountains and play my card when the opportunities arise », detailed the third of the Tour 2014, Thursday. He will try to snatch a fourth stage victory on the Grande Boucle. His physical condition for three weeks will be the question mark, as he participated in the Giro in May. During the Tour of Italy, victory eluded him twice (2nd in the 13th and 18th stages), but he consoled himself with winning the best climber’s jersey of the event. A goal that could also please him on the roads of the Tour de France.
Read also: Tour de France 2023: last dance for Thibaut Pinot
Big favorite of the online event of the French championship, Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quick Step) finally gave up on Sunday June 25 due to heatstroke and vomiting. After a start to the season again complicated by falls, especially during the Tour of Flanders, the double world champion (2020 and 2021) was finally able to take the time to prepare properly for the Grande Boucle, the main objective of his season. He showed himself in good shape at the Critérium du Dauphiné by winning the second stage, his first success in a World Tour-labelled race since the start of the 2022 season. The rugged profile of the first days in the Spanish Basque Country could suit him, especially since he will be the leader of his team.
Christopher Laporte is undoubtedly the best French cyclist of the season. Already winner of the Ghent-Wevelgem and A Travers la Flandre classics at the end of March, he impressed on the Critérium du Dauphiné by winning two of the first three stages. In 2022, he had saved the honor by signing the only tricolor victory of the Tour, in Cahors, during the 19ᵉ stage. “I have to help Jonas [Vingegaard] and Wout [van Aert], I have no personal goals, warned the Varois. Maybe one day I will have opportunities. » Proof that he has taken the lead, the winner of the last Tour de France even worked for him during certain arrivals of the Critérium du Dauphiné. He could also have more chances, because van Aert is not certain to complete the Big Loop if his wife were to give birth.
They want to show off
“On paper, David [Gaudu] is a better climber than him. valentine [Madouas] will therefore be his lieutenant. That said, we will not refrain from moving, both with Valentin and with Thibaut [Pinot]. » In The Telegramthe general manager of Groupama-FDJ, Marc Madiot, confirmed that Valentin Madouas would above all be a team member. But the new French champion could make his new blue-white-red jersey shine by aiming for a stage victory. “I’m going to give my best to win as many races as possible with this jersey, show it up front [de la course] », he confirmed, Thursday, at a press conference. On June 25, in Cassel (North), his solo coup impressed. Madouas is in great shape at the start of the Tour, it is almost certain. And the event has already succeeded for him: he finished 10th overall in 2022.
Read also: Cycling: Valentin Madouas crowned French road champion
Like Julian Alaphilippe, the first two stages around Bilbao (Spain) suit the profile of the puncher Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R-Citroën), still looking for a win this season. In 2020, he had spent fourteen days with the polka dot jersey. Far from being the initial objective, the Norman had taken unfeigned pleasure in trying it out for two weeks. The idea could again trot in his head.