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Tour de France 2023 Preview: Key Stages, Contenders, and Predictions

BY Henry Lutz

The 2023 Tour de France is here! Here's everything you need to know from contenders, GC favorites, and stages you won't want to miss.

It is that time of year again: Le Tour de France is upon us. With last year’s thrilling general classification (GC) battle and the release of the Netflix docuseries Tour de France: Unchained, the anticipation for the 2023 lap around France is high. The favorites for the yellow jersey are once again the ever-familiar faces of Tadej Pogačar and defending champion Jonas Vingegaard. 

Although these two riders are the bookie’s favorites, a deep field of GC talent is expected at the 2023 Tour. Richard Carapaz, the newly minted EF Education First-EasyPost rider, is likely another major contender. He’ll be coming off the back of a strong effort at the Criterium du Dauphine, where he ultimately finished second. 
Teams have just announced their squads for the race, fortifying their teams with high-mountain talent to support GC ambitions. With the lack of time trial kilometers in this year’s Tour, the fight for the yellow jersey will be decided in the mountains, which are plentiful.

Key Stages in the 2023 Tour

Stage 9: Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat – Puy de Dôme (184 km, 3441m), Sunday, July 9

Stage 9 will be the first opportunity to see who brought their best climbing legs to the Tour. The stage finishes up the 12.6km, 7.8% Hors Categorie Puy de Dôme. This is its first appearance in the Tour de France in 35 years. 

This mythical volcano finish features consistently steep gradients, with the final 4.5km of the climb averaging over 12%. A rest day awaits the peloton after this stage, so we can expect to see teams go full-throttle from the very beginning of the climb. There is more to gain other than time as GC teams and riders will look for a tactical advantage during this stage. Whichever team can dominate this stage and set up their rider for victory will have an edge going into the high Alps later in the race.

Stage 15: Les Gets Les Portes du Soleil – Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc Le Bettex (180 km, 4527m), Sunday July 16

Stage 15 of 2023 Tour de France, Les Gets Les Portes du Soleil - Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc Le Bettex

Stage 15 is one of the more interesting and unpredictable mountain stages of this year’s Tour. The stage features five categorized climbs in the final 100 kilometers, totaling 4,527 meters of elevation gain. The crux of the parcours is the final two climbs, with a one-two punch of the second category Côte de Amerands followed by the final first category climb of Le Bettex. These come in rapid succession, with only a one-kilometer descent between them.

Going into this stage, we should expect more separation in the GC standings, meaning that the team with the yellow jersey is expected to control the whole day. Because of the difficulty of pacing for a stage like this, there is a good chance that the breakaway will fight for stage honors. However, the GC battle will be explosive regardless. 

Unlike Stage 9, the peloton will have to tackle some of the biggest climbs of the race before reaching the finale of Stage 15. The penultimate test will be the Col de la Croix Fry, averaging just over 7% for 11.4 kilometers. This stage should show us which of the GC contenders are able to deal with fatigue effectively, as this stage caps off the second week of racing. Expect fireworks, as anyone who is close to getting their hands on the yellow jersey will be vying for the lead before entering the final week of the race.

Stage 17: Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc – Courchevel (166 km, 5405m), Wednesday, July 19

Stage 17 of 2023 Tour de France, Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc - Courchevel

The 166km queen stage of this year’s Tour de France is a doozy. Every GC contender will have this stage in the back of their mind — some will find it daunting, others as an exciting opportunity. 

The defining climb is Col de la Loze, a whopping 28.3-kilometer climb, peaking at over 2300 meters in altitude. It’s the final of four categorized climbs and is significantly more difficult than the preceding climbs. With proportions as epic as this, the GC race could blow wide open. Riders will crack, others will attack, some might succumb to the altitude, and others will thrive.

Whoever is in yellow at the start of the day will have their work cut out for themselves and their team, as any rider close in the GC standings will be giving everything they have to take time back. I recommend watching this stage from kilometer zero, as teams will try early and often to break this race open well before hitting the slopes of Col de la Loze. Whoever is in the yellow jersey in Courchevel is very likely to be the winner of the 2023 Tour de France.

GC Favorites & Contenders

The field of contenders at this year’s Tour is deep. Since this year’s race features some of the most difficult, high-mountain terrain, teams are insulating their GC contenders with their best climbers. Jai Hindley, Jack Haig, Ben O’Connor, Romain Bardet, and David Gaudu are just some of the riders that will be looking to upset the expected battle between Vingegaard and Pogačar. 

Vingegaard vs. Pogačar

Two riders guaranteed to be there are defending champion Jonas Vingegaard and two-time champion Tadej Pogačar. These two are arguably the best grand tour and GC racers in the peloton. Last year, we saw a tight battle between the two throughout the first week and a half until Vingegaard was able to crack open Pogačar on Stage 11 in the high mountains. He maintained this lead until Paris.

Vingegaard is considered the favorite coming into this year’s race after a dominant performance at the Criterium du Dauphine. He’ll also have the strongest team in the Dutch outfit of Jumbo-Visma, an incredibly well-drilled squad with deep talent that played a crucial role in his 2022 victory. 


This year, Jumbo-Visma is set to bring a team that is just as strong with only minimal substitutes from the 8-man team of 2022. The newly signed Dutch duo of Wilco Kelderman and Dylan van Baarle will be the crucial mountain domestiques for Vingegaard, as well as the Belgian superstar Wout van Aert. Wout was an important player in the final mountain stages for Vingegaard, and I would not be surprised to see the big Belgian do the same in this year’s Tour.

UAE Team Emirates

UAE Team Emirates is looking to disrupt the mountain dominance of Jumbo-Visma, hoping to add to Pogačar’s current collection of yellow jerseys. Pogačar is coming off a broken wrist suffered in April of this year at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He has not raced since. This could benefit the young Slovenian as he has spent the past few months completely focused on the Tour; however, a lack of race days could prove costly in the build-up of his fitness. 

Last year, UAE looked to be in rough shape in the high mountains, often leaving Pogačar alone in key moments of mountain stages. They experienced some unfortunate luck with some of their domestiques abandoning the race early due to injury and illness. This year, they’ll be looking to turn that around. Adam Yates and Rafał Majka will be Pogačar’s main helpers in the high mountains as former Tour de Romandie and polka dot jersey winners, respectively. 

Pogačar will need to be patient compared to last year, where he seemed to play all of his cards by the end of the first half of the race. UAE will wait in the wings of the Jumbo-Visma team, eyeing an opportunity to pounce on any weakness.

EF Education First-EasyPost

Richard Carapaz will be the frontman for the EF Education First-EasyPost, piloting one of the stronger GC teams that EF has been able to field. The team also likely includes recent signee and mountain domestique, Andrey Amador.

Carapaz, the current Olympic Champion, has stood on the podium of four grand tours, including the top step of the 2019 Giro d’Italia. He’ll be looking to add to his tally with his new team. Rigoberto Urán will likely be a member of the squad as well, potentially gunning for his own result in GC. This edition of the Tour seems to suit both of these riders as they tend to suffer with individual time trials.

Neilson Powless will be another domestique that will aid the duo in the later mountain stages, but we might see him get a few opportunities of his own for a stage victory. The team tactics should be interesting — we’ll see how they can balance the ambitions of their two South American climbers. It will be an uphill battle for the gentlemen in pink to secure the yellow jersey in Paris, but it’s the Tour de France. Anything can happen.


The Tour is primed to be a two-horse race between Vingegaard and Pogačar, with Vingegaard having the slight advantage coming into the race according to the bookies. However, I think that by the Champs-Élyseés, the young Slovenian, Pogačar, will be bringing home his third Tour victory in four years. 

Pogočar has been quiet in recent months, slowly recovering from his injury sustained in April and dialing in his training for the Tour de France. This will benefit Pogačar, who should ride into form throughout the race. I am expecting him to lose a bit of time in the first ten days of the race as Vingegaard is already in stellar form. UAE Team Emirates is hungry for redemption, so their team will be well-organized with a concise plan on how to best the Jumbo-Visma squad. 

Regardless of who wins, this year’s Tour is set to be a fantastic race. Limited time trial kilometers and challenging mountain stages will provide an entertaining battle for the yellow jersey. The most celebrated and renowned bike race in the world is just one week away and I, for one, can’t wait to see what this year’s edition brings.

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About Henry Lutz

Henry Lutz is a former competitive road cyclist. From the age of 14, he raced at the highest level in the United States as well as abroad. He is a fan of all things professional cycling, with a focus on World Tour road racing. In recent years, he has stepped away from high-level racing, but has continued a career within the cycling industry.

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