British riders have made an indelible mark on the history of the Tour de France over the years. Their contributions began with Brian Robinson, who was the first British cyclist to finish the race in 1955 and claimed the first British stage victory two years later. However, it was not until the 21st century that Britain became a dominant force in the race. Starting with Bradley Wiggins’ historic overall victory in 2012, the first for a British rider, Team Sky (later rebranded as Ineos Grenadiers) went on to secure seven of the next nine editions of the Tour, with victories from Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, and Egan Bernal.
Froome, in particular, stands out with his four Tour de France titles. Mark Cavendish, often hailed as one of the greatest sprinters in the history of the sport, has also significantly contributed to Britain’s Tour de France success, matching the all-time record of 34 stage wins held by Eddy Merckx in 2021. British riders have demonstrated a wide range of prowess in the Tour de France, from sprinting to time-trialling and climbing, making them always ones to watch in the peloton.
British Riders in the 2023 Tour de France
So much attention is going to be on Mark Cavendish. After a stellar 2021 Tour de France with 4 stage wins, he wasn’t picked for last year’s edition. A change of teams in the off-season and here we are for the Brit’s final shot at the outright all-time Tour de France stage win record before retirement. Just 1 stage will do it and there will be bedlam if he manages to pull it off. There was a time when it looked inevitable only for a tough few years to rob the Manx Missile of opportunities before a glorious return to form.
Cavendish’s one and only win of the 2023 season to date came in May at the Giro d’Italia, where the 38-year-old won the final stage in Rome. He only needs a single similar opportunity to go top and ahead of Eddy Merckx in the all-time stage win ranking.
Surely everyone has now seen that video of the descent Tom Pidcock made last year on his way to a maiden Tour de France stage victory on Alpe d’Huez no less. The Brit flew down the Galibier as he hunted down the lead group. With nothing quite showing the generational change as well as dropping Chris Froome on its slopes. That generation of stars has had its time at the top.
The 2023 season has seen Pidcock claim victory on the Tuscan gravel at Strade Bianche, winning with a small gap there. 3rd at Amstel Gold Race and 2nd at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, albeit a long way behind the winner at both is a sign that as a one-day racer, Pidcock is up there. Expect to see some stage hunting and maybe a top-20 GC finish once more.
The first of the Yates twins to get a mention. Adam Yates has a solid if unspectacular history at the Tour de France where probably the most memorable moment is an inflatable gantry falling on top of him whilst looking certain for a stage win. That stage victory still illudes him but a trio of top-10 GC finishes are still very decent.
In this year’s race, he will be working for team leader Tadej Pogačar but there’s still a chance of adding to that number of top-10 GC finishes with a good rider. It’s tough to see that stage win happening but there’s always a chance.
A Grand Tour winner at the Vuelta a Espana and many stage wins and GC near-misses at the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France has always felt the weakest of the big 3 for Simon Yates. Unless his brother Adam, he does have a pair of Tour de France stage victories, however. They came just 4 days apart in the 2019 Tour de France. Unlike Adam however, Simon Yates has just 1 top-10 GC finish, with 7th back in 2017.
A good early part to the season included 4th at Paris Nice but the preparation was somewhat derailed by stomach issues at the Tour de Romandie that saw him abandon and Yates hasn’t raced since. That makes him a bit of a wildcard with where the form might be.
The new British road race champion! Wright finally took his first career pro win after so many close calls in a host of races up and down the prestige stakes. That includes last year’s Tour de France where Wright finished 2nd behind Mads Pedersen in a 3-up sprint into Saint Etienne. Now with the monkey off his back, we might see that maiden Grand Tour win and on the highest stage.
There have been many top-10 results in 2023, including the Tour of Flanders and recently at the Critérium Dauphiné. It would be a surprise if there wasn’t another here in his new British champion jersey.
An up and down career that first saw James Shaw make the WorldTour with Lotto Soudal at the age of 20 years old before slumping back to the Continental ranks after never quite establishing himself within the Belgian team. A strong year at Continental level saw him back to ProTeam level before Covid hit and another year back at Continental level in 2021. Finally, in 2022 Shaw returned to the WorldTour with EF Education-EasyPost and doesn’t appear to be looking back.
The 2023 Tour de France will be Shaw’s maiden edition and he will be in full-stage hunting mode. A useful finisher on tough hilly terrain, there was a decent enough GC performance at the Critérium Dauphiné and 2nd in GC at Coppi e Bartali too.
Finally, there’s Ineos Grenadiers’ Ben Turner. Another rider doing their first Tour de France in 2023, Turner has had an up-and-down 2023 so far because of injuries from crashes. He took his first pro career win at Vuelta Murcia, and almost matched it with 2nd at Jaen Paraiso before coming to an abrupt stop at Omloop het Nieuwsblad. There Turner broke his elbow but returned to fitness for the end of the Flandrian classics, only to break his forearm at the Tour of Flanders.
A different type of stage-hunting threat to teammate Tom Pidcock, we might see him get into breaks on flatter terrain and maybe have an outside shot at a stage win if he’s back to full form.
Which British riders are in the 2023 Tour de France?
- Mark Cavendish
- Tom Pidcock
- Adam Yates
- Simon Yates
- Fred Wright
- James Shaw
- Ben Turner