I’ve run out of time a little bit over this weekend, mainly due to racing myself and surprisingly nice weather in the UK. So this will be a ‘lite’ version of a race preview for the 2023 Tour de l’Ardeche which runs from Tuesday 5th September to Monday 11th September.
The picturesque French landscapes will once again host some of the best non-WorldTour racers of women’s cycling, as the peloton gathers for the 2023 Tour de l’Ardeche. With an eclectic blend of stage profiles that promise to challenge even the most seasoned riders, this event is a staple in the women’s cycling calendar, having been run since 2003. Whether it’s the mountainous terrains or the technical descents, the Tour de l’Ardeche offers something for everyone. Last year saw Antonia Niedermaier take a memorable victory, which has launched her into success this season. The winners list also includes the likes of Marianne Vos, Leah Thomas, Kasia Niewiadoma, Lucy Kennedy, Flavia Oliveira, Tayler Wiles, Emma Pooley, Kristen Armstrong, Amber Neben, and 3-time winner Edita Pucinskaite.
2023 Tour de l’Ardeche Stage Profiles
The Favourites: Marta Cavalli and Olivia Baril
Leading the charge are Marta Cavalli and Olivia Baril, two standout talents with differing strengths. Cavalli’s flair for the hilly courses could see her conquering the mountain stages, while Baril, a strong hilly racer herself from Canada, will undoubtedly fancy her chances in the latter stages. The duel between these two powerhouses will surely be one of the tour’s defining narratives, with both riders eager to notch another significant win on their belts in the general classification. Cavalli won on Hautacam in the Pyrenees this year, and Olivia Baril managed to retain her title at the GP de Eibar.
The Dutch Contingent: Loes Adegeest and Danique Braam
Never underestimate the Dutch when it comes to cycling. Cadel Great Ocean Road Race winner Loes Adegeest and Danique Braam carry the baton for the Netherlands this year. Adegeest is a fantastic all-rounder with the skills to excel in flat stages and hilly terrains alike and loves a breakaway attempt. She was also 2nd in last year’s race, with a stage win along the way for good measure. Braam, on the other hand, is known for her tactical acumen and teamwork, making her a key asset, especially in sprint finishes. Both riders bring distinct qualities to the table, and their combined experience could make the difference for them and their respective teams – FDJ-Suez and Duolar-Chevalmeire.
Emerging Talents: Marion Bunel and Alena Ivanchenko
The cycling world has its eyes set on France’s Marion Bunel and Russia’s Alena Ivanchenko. Both are emerging talents with the potential to pull off a surprise. Bunel’s strength in hillier terrains provides France with options in more gruelling stages, whereas Ivanchenko’s prowess in the mountains could see her featuring in breakaways or even competing for a stage win. Bunel was particularly impressive in the Tour de l’Avenir Femmes last week, making her name known whilst riding with the rest of the U23 climbing stars. Their performances could very well signal the advent of new stars in the realm of women’s cycling.
French Prospects: Evita Muzic and Coralie Demay
Hosting the event, France has a vested interest in making a strong impression. Enter Alpes Gresivaudan Classic winner Evita Muzic and Coralie Demay, the French riders expected to fly the tricolour high. Muzic, a prodigious climber, has the mettle to excel in the steep terrains of Ardeche. Demay’s uncanny ability to read races and adapt on the fly makes her a fascinating watch. Keep an eye out for these French riders as they seek to deliver a win in France. Coralie Demay took a stage win here last year on her way to the QoM jersey.
Dark Horses: Diana Penuela and Heidi Franz
While they might not start the race as outright favourites, Diana Penuela and recent Egmont Cycling Race winner Heidi Franz are more than capable of stirring the pot. Penuela’s climbing and fast finish capabilities could make her a contender in many finishes, while Franz, an accomplished all-rounder, has the potential to cause some upsets on all of the stages. She has a quick finish against non-top-drawer sprinters but does best when there’s plenty of uphill to attack as well. Their presence adds an extra layer of unpredictability to the event, ensuring that the established stars can’t afford to let their guard down.
With such an array of talent lining up at the starting gate, the 2023 Tour de l’Ardeche promises to be plenty of fun, exciting racing. We often don’t get to see very much of the racing live but the parcours is perfect to reward riders looking to race aggressively, with many rewards for those able to successfully pull off a move.