Team Jumbo-Visma full of ambition and confidence for the Basque Grand Depart
The Tour de France, the biggest and most prestigious race of the year, is just around the corner. The 110th Tour de France will start in Bilbao on Saturday, July 1. Team Jumbo-Visma is chasing new triumphs with an eight-man squad full of ambition. Wout van Aert, Christophe, and defending champion Jonas Vingegaard look ahead.
The Tour de France will start outside France for the second consecutive year. After Copenhagen in 2022, the Basque city of Bilbao will host Le Grand Départ this year. The first week is unusual because it has quite a few altitude metres. The treacherous overture of La Grande Bouclé takes place in the Basque country, making the outcome difficult to predict.
Van Aert is looking forward to the tricky opening stages in the Basque country. “I like this start. Anything can happen on the first day. The climbs are still a bit too short for true climbers. For the riders who feel at home in the classics, it will be about keeping up and surviving the climbs. I am indeed very ambitious. Of course, I will try to win the opening stage and take the first yellow jersey.”
"I like this start"
After last year’s success, Team Jumbo-Visma has high expectations for this year. With Vingegaard, the Dutch outfit aims to extend their title. “As the defending champions, we are among the favourites to win the Tour de France. It doesn’t put any extra pressure on me. Little has changed for me compared to last year. We start in Bilbao with the same goal. The first week will be tough, so we must start off on guard”, Vingegaard says.
The 26-year-old Dane continues: “I think the second and third weeks will be crucial. Because this Tour includes no fewer than five mountains, it is difficult to predict where the focus will be. Thanks to my good preparation, I’m more than ready for this tough Tour de France.”
The latter is a justified characterisation for the French grand tour. The 2023 edition will feature a record seventy climbs. The riders will race 21 stages over almost 3,500 kilometres from Bilbao to Paris. On Sunday, July 23, the last stage will traditionally take place on the Champs-Elysées in the French capital.
“Of course, I want to win stages”, Van Aert says. “The Tour de France is the biggest cycling race in the world. For us riders, it’s like the holy grail. I will start on Saturday in good shape and look forward to it. In addition to pursuing our individual goals, we work as a team to accomplish our main goal. We know our capabilities and know what it takes to win the Tour. Besides, we showed last year that we can chase, but defending the yellow jersey also suited us.”
Laporte says he had his best day on the bike during last year’s Tour. “Winning the stage was an indescribable moment. There may be another opportunity to take my own chance in the upcoming weeks, but I am focusing on achieving our common goal for now. With this strong team, we are confident of a good result.”
"My personality hasn’t changed much in the past year"
Vingegaard is aware of his main rivals but is not one to pick favourites. “In my opinion, quite a few riders are capable of competing for the overall victory. I don’t consider anyone or myself the favourite. Although my personality hasn’t changed much in the past year, my development as an athlete has. We will see who wears the yellow jersey in three weeks.”
In addition to the trio of Vingegaard, Van Aert, and Laporte, the Jumbo-Visma squad also includes Belgians Tiesj Benoot and Nathan van Hooydonck, Dutchmen Wilco Kelderman and Dylan van Baarle and American Sepp Kuss.