In the opening act of the 2023 Tour de France, British twin Adam Yates emerged victorious, nabbing his career’s maiden Tour stage and the contest’s first yellow jersey. The rider, representing UAE Team Emirates, managed to distance himself from his sibling in the concluding metres of a remarkably steep stage in the Basque Country after both had taken the lead following the day’s final ascent with 9km to the finish.
Tadej Pogačar, Adam’s teammate and just a 12-second gap behind, launched an early mental onslaught against his competitors in the race for the overall Tour by leading the pursuit group of favourites across the finish line. The dual-time Tour winner displayed jubilation for his teammate’s triumph and his team’s current favourable standing.
Simultaneously, his dash to the finish line dispelled any remaining uncertainties regarding his physical condition in the wake of an accident during the Liège-Bastogne-Liège earlier this season and a dearth of racing days leading up to the Tour.
In ninth place and trailing him was the reigning champion Jonas Vingegaard, who had a mostly restrained race within his Jumbo-Visma teammates, possibly mindful of the upcoming challenges in this particularly demanding Grand Départ. Post his victory, Adam Yates downplayed the chatter of his co-leadership within his UAE team.
His first Tour stage victory, Adam Yates had the honour of donning the yellow jersey for a span of four days in 2020. His twin, Simon, who claimed two stages in 2019, continues to yearn for his first stint in the celebrated maillot jaune. The event was touted as the most arduous inaugural Tour stage in recent years and it lived up to its billing. The one-day specialists and Classics men from the peloton buckled under the pressure from the GC teams, leaving the overall favourites as the only contenders for the stage honours.
An uneventful opening 130km saw a group of five riders – Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X), Simon Guglielmi (Arkéa-Samsic), Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto Dstny), Valentin Ferron (TotalEnergies) – break away, but they never gained more than a 90-second lead with the Jumbo-Visma team and reliable Soudal-QuickStep domestique Tim Declerq maintaining the peloton in check.
As 50km remained, the breakaway was caught and the group prepared for an intense finish. Three swift climbs, climaxing with the blistering slope of Pike Bidea that peaked with 9km left, pared down the peloton to leave only the top-notch GC riders in the field.
The Yates brothers had spearheaded this select group over the final climb and were just ahead of the chase group on the route to Bilbao. Despite a concerted pursuit from the few remaining riders on Jumbo-Visma, their 15-second lead slowly extended in the uphill finish.
Despite a comparatively crash-free day by Tour standards, Enric Mas, the team leader of Movistar, was compelled to withdraw following a crash within the final 20km of the stage. Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) was also involved in the incident but managed to complete the stage. Nonetheless, injuries to both knees raised questions will see the former Giro winner leave the race after day 1.
2023 Tour de France Stage 1 result
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Photo Credits: Sprint Cycling Agency