Who Is Going To Win the 2023 Men’s Tour de France?

The 2023 Tour de France looks like it will be superb, with an in-form defending champ, a previous winner coming back and many pretenders.

By Whit Yost |

The 2023 Men’s Tour de France begins on Saturday, July 1st in Bilbao, Spain with a hilly road race that will determine the first riders to pull on the yellow jersey as the leader of the Tour’s General Classification–in other words, the Tour’s overall leader. First awarded during the 1919 Tour de France, the maillot jaune’s true origins are murky. Some say it was yellow to match the color of the newsprint that the l’Auto sports newspaper–the Tour’s founding sponsor–was printed on. Others say yellow wool was the cheapest fabric option at the time and was therefore chosen to construct the jersey worn by the Tour’s overall leader so that spectators could identify him more easily.

Regardless of how it came to be, the yellow jersey is now one of the most notable and recognisable symbols in cycling, and riders consider it a career-defining achievement just to wear it for a day.

But the Tour’s biggest battle is the fight to wear the maillot jaune on the Tour’s last day, atop the final podium in Paris. This rider is the overall champion of the Tour de France, an accomplishment that cements those who achieve within the pantheon of cycling’s greatest riders.

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The list of contenders for the 2023 Tour de France is topped by two defending champions, one who looks to be picking-up right where he left off, and another who–after a dominant start to the season–heads to the Tour still recovering from an injury sustained at a race in late-April. Behind them, several riders are competing to either pull-off a major upset or stand beside them on the podium in Paris three weeks later. Here’s a run-down of this year’s yellow jersey contenders:


The Defending Champion

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma)

Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard wasn’t even his team’s leader heading into last year’s Tour de France, but this year begins the race as the top favourite. He’s spent much of the season at training camps with his teammates, but when he has raced, he’s done well, winning three of the four stage races he’s entered and finishing third in the one that he didn’t. His best performance came two weeks ago when he won two stages and the General Classification at the recent Critérium du Dauphiné, an important pre-Tour stage race that often serves as a predictor of what will happen in July. Perhaps more importantly, he’ll be supported by one of the strongest teams in the Tour, and the course suits his strengths. He’s the #1 contender.

The Challengers

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)

Slovenia’s Tadej Pogačar won back-to-back Tours in 2020 and 2021, and absolutely CRUSHED the first part of the 2023 season, winning the Ruta del Sol, Paris-Nice, the Tour of Flanders, the Amstel Gold Race, and Flèche Wallonne. But the 23-year-old crashed and broke his wrist during Liège-Bastogne-Liège in late-April, an injury that forced him off the bike for a while, delaying the start of the Slovenian’s Tour de France preparations. But Pog’s now back on his bike at a high altitude training camp in Sierra Nevada, Spain and will participate in the Slovenian National Championships this weekend. Assuming he gets stronger as the Tour progresses–which could come in handy during the Tour’s challenging third week–he could catch Vingegaard just as the Dane’s fitness starts to wane. And he has the added mental advantage of having beaten Vingegaard the only time they raced against one another so far this season: at Paris-Nice in March.

gettyimages-1409901016Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe)

Last year, Jai Hindley became the first Australian to win the Giro d’Italia, and now he’s starting his first Tour de France as a solid podium contender. More of a climber than a time trialist, Hindley will benefit from a course with only time trial–and an uphill one at that. Fourth at the Dauphiné, his form is clearly where it needs to be heading into the Tour and he has sneakily talented team supporting him, a team that includes Germany’s Emanuel Buchmann, who finished fourth at the Tour de France in 2019, Colombia’s Sergio Higuita, one of the sport’s best climbers, and Luxembourg’s Bob Jungels, who finished 11th at last year’s Tour and has two top-10 finishes at the Giro on his resume.

Daniel Martinez (INEOS Grenadiers)

INEOS is perhaps the biggest wild card in this year’s Tour de France, as they’re expected to bring a squad brimming with talent, but with several question marks as well. Colombia’s Daniel Martinez, who’s so far failed to live up to the expectations the team had for him when they signed him away from EF Education a few years ago, looks set to lead the team. The 28-year-old had a quiet Dauphiné, finishing 23rd overall in the event which he won back in 2020. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing as he could just be slowly building his fitness for the Tour de France. But if falters early, his team could shift their support to either his compatriot, Egan Bernal, who won the Tour in 2019 (and the 2021 Giro d’Italia) and has slowly been working his way back from a crash that nearly took his life in February 2022; or Spain’s Carlos Rodriguez, a 22-year-old who’s making his Tour debut after finishing 9th at the recent Dauphiné and 7th at last year’s Tour of Spain.

gettyimages-1406906650Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën)

Australia’s Ben O’Connor was one of the revelations of the 2021 Tour de France, winning Stage 9 in the Alps and holding onto the time he gained that day to finish fourth overall. The 27-year-old looked to be on track for another solid performance after finishing third at last year’s Dauphiné, but crumbled a few weeks later in the Tour, dropping out of the race due to injuries sustained in a nasty crash on Stage 2. But he rebounded to finish eighth at the Tour of Spain later in the summer and scored another third-place at the Dauphiné two weeks ago. With renewed confidence–and good form–he’s a strong contender for a spot on the podium.

Enric Mas (Movistar)

Spain’s Enric Mas, a three-time runner-up in the Tour of Spain, has fifth- and sixth-place Tour de France finishes on his resume. That seems about right for a rider who always seems to have a bad day that kills his chances of a podium finish. But this year he leads the team all by himself, without having to worry about the too-many-cooks-in-kitchen issues that have plagued Movistar in previous Tours. And with American Matteo Jorgenson coming into his own the 28-year-old has a lieutenant capable of supporting when he needs it most. The good news: the mountains come early and the Tour’s only time trial is short and hilly, so he doesn’t risk losing as much time as he would if it were long and flat.

gettyimages-1472793208David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ)

The French will be rooting for David Gaudu, who finished one spot away from the final podium last year. A pure climber, Gaudu should start the race well thanks to a hilly opening weekend in the Basque Country followed by an early trip through the Pyrenees. But if he’s well-placed on the GC heading into the second week, the pressure will start to build. His ability to handle it will play a big role in determining whether or not he improves on last year’s performance.

Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost)

Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz won the 2019 Giro d’Italia and has earned at least one grand tour podium finish every year since–in all three grand tours–with the INEOS Grenadiers. Now he’s riding with a EF Education-EasyPost, a change of scenery that the 30-year-old hopes will land him back on the Tour de France podium. And this is the year to do it: with so many mountains and a time trial that suits him better than most grand tour ITTs have in the past, it’s certainly well within his reach–especially with Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran, himself a former Tour podium-finisher, expected to be his wingman.

Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious)

Talk about close but no cigar: Spain’s Mikel Landa has four top-10 Tour de France finishes–including two fourth-places–on his resume, but he’s never landed on the podium. But this could be his year thanks to a mountainous course that avoids the long, flat time trials that have tripped him up in the past. Look to see Landa on the attack early: the Tour starts in the Basque Country (the region from which he hails), and a stage win on home roads with perhaps a day or two in the yellow jersey would be the highlight of his career. Should that happen, anything else would be gravy.

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