Tour de France Stage 3 Preview: The First Day for the Sprinters

Stage 3 - a flattish, fastish affair with a few climbs to test the sprinters, but mostly manageable. Cav's first opportunity?

By Whit Yost |

Stage 3 – Amorebieta-Etxano to Bayonne (193.5km) – Monday, July 3

Stage 3 brings the 2023 Tour de France from the Basque Country into France for the first time in this year’s edition, with a jagged stage profile that gets gentler as the day progresses. Starting in Amorebieta-Etxano, the climbing begins right away with the Category 3 Côte de Trabakua, where we expect American Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost to head out on the attack (again)to defend and maybe extend his lead by in the Tour’s King of the Mountains competition.

And it’s a worthwhile move, with seven points available on the four categorised climbs spread through the first half of the stage. The riders summit the final categorised climb, the Category 3 Côte d’Orioko Benta with about 90km left to race, which is why we expect this to be the first stage in this year’s Tour that ends in a field sprint. But it will be close: there’s an uncategorised “bump” about 20km from the finish line in Bayonne, the perfect point from which to launch an attack.

stage 3 profile tour de france 2023

Teams wishing to eliminate the Tour’s pure field sprinters might try and do it here. The run-in to the finish in Bayonne will be tight, with a series of roundabouts from about 5km- to 2km-to-go. At 2km from the finish line, there’s a 180-degree right-hander as the riders loop under and then up onto the avenue that takes them to the finish line. The run-in will be fast: the road heads downhill toward the 1km to go banner before rising in the final 500m toward the line.

The weather should be perfect: mostly sunny with highs in the upper 70s, with a slight headwind helping the sprinters’ teams keep the race together in the final 20km.

Riders to watch

After two days of intense racing in which the Tour’s overall contenders needed to be at their best, the sprinters should be front and centre at the end of Stage 3 in Bayonne.

Assuming no one gets dropped, it’s the first chance for Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish (Astana) to break the record for the most stage wins in Tour history, with the Netherland’s Fabio Jakobsen (Soudal-Quick Step) and Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jayco AlUla), Australia’s Caleb Ewan (Destny Lotto), and Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) looking to deny him a chance at history.

But if the finale proves hard for these riders, look for one of the Tour’s more versatile sprinters to win the stage with Belgium’s Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Denmark’s Mad Pedersen (Lidl-Trek), and Norway’s Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X) the top candidates to win in Bayonne.

When to Watch

You can tune-in a bit later for this one: the riders should hit that uncategorised “bump” at about 16h55 with the final sprint taking place around 17h25. Don’t miss it, though: with only a handful of chances for Cav to make history, you’ll want to be sure you’re tuned in.

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