Tour de France Gallery: Brilliant Basque beginnings to the 2023 Tour de France
The Basque are renowned for their love of cycling and that was on full display at the Grand Départ.
Of the last 10 editions of the
Tour de France, more than half have started outside France itself. It’s become something of a tradition for the Tour – a Grand Départ beyond French borders, adding an international flavour to the race (the money probably helps, too).
This year the Grand Départ took the world’s best riders to the Basque Country in north-east Spain, a region famed for its obsessive cycling fans and its punchy climbs. As predicted, spectators turned out en masse and the courses delivered exciting and engaging racing to kick start this year’s Tour.
As we leave
behind Euskal Herria , let’s take a look back at three wonderful days of racing, as captured by the Grubers – Ashley and Jered – and Kristof Ramon. Few looked as good in the txapela at the teams presentation as Julian Alaphilippe. Proper Rennaissance Man stuff here. If Enric Mas thought he was having a bad time in the rain at the teams presentation, well, let’s just say things weren’t about to get much better. In the battle for best “When do we get to the actual bike racing?” face, Tom Pidcock set the early benchmark. Mathieu van der Poel was equal to the task. Likewise Dylan Groenewegen whose vibe was less “Can I race my bike yet?” and more “I don’t get paid enough for this shit.” Rigo Uran, meanwhile, was just doing Rigo things. I can only assume he’s busy shooting a music video here. And then there’s Quinn Simmons. The stars and stripes, the beard, the hair, the glasses, the earrings – it is quite the package. “Mattias, bro, what pressure you runnin’?” And they’re off, starting three days in the Basque Country. The first real breakaway of the race, setting the pace along the Cantabrian coast. The people of the Basque Country came out in big numbers … … to watch the two big, overall favourites duke it out on the very first stage. “Any danger of you doing a turn, Jonas? No?” Egan Bernal is back. He’s shown promising signs in the first two stages and will be fascinating to watch as the race unfolds. Ben O’Connor shipped 33 seconds on the opening stage – far from ideal for his GC hopes. At his absolute best, Alaphilippe might have gone clear on the last climb of stage 1. Instead he too dropped 33 seconds to the winner. RIP, my Escape Collective Fantasy Competition hopes. Esteban Chaves has fans wherever he goes. And how could he not with a smile like that. Shooting the Tour is one of the hardest jobs on the race, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of levity. Yates vs Yates for the first yellow jersey. Adam prevailed … … and was rewarded with a hearty face-squish … … and an hour or more of media commitments. Long way to go yet, Pogi. Steady as she goes. UAE Team Emirates’ “co-leader” Adam Yates took the first maillot jaune. How long until it ends up on the shoulders of his teammate Tadej Pogačar? As Iain Treloar reported the other day, Adam wasn’t the only Yates in yellow come the morning of stage 2. Amid the manic stress of the Tour, it’s important to take a moment to step away and enjoy the simple pleasures. Hot tip: cleated cycling shoes are not the ideal footwear for this sort of activity. Just a wonderful turn-out for the start of stage 2. Our photographers went from. fighting the crowds in Vitoria-Gasteiz to hiding in the woods. How many other photographers can you see in this photo? UAE Team Emirates did a lot of work on the front on stage 2. There they are again, chasing back a breakaway they really didn’t need to. “Have you got some time this summer? Do you love to entertain? Come join us on the Tour de France Publicity Caravan! Dance your days away on the back of a car, for three weeks, in the hot sun, all while throwing random bits of rubbish at fans. You’ll love it.” I get the feeling we’re going to see plenty of Rafał Majka on the front this Tour. Victor Lafay’s last-ditch solo move shouldn’t have worked … … given the calibre of riders behind. But somehow it did, netting Lafay the biggest win of his career and Cofidis’s first Tour stage win in 15 years. Just a great shot here from the Grubers. The juxtaposition between motion and stillness is magnificent. Did KOM leader Neilson Powless get a finish bottle from Cofidis? Sure looks like it. #cofidisisvampires “Onward! To stage 3!” Stage 3 would be the race’s last in the Basque Country, with the stage finishing over the border in Bayonne, France. Neilson Powless was again up the road and now has a comfortable lead in the KOM classification. Well, comfortable until the proper climbs start anyway. Basque flags galore, again. Much of the stage followed the Cantabrian coastline as the riders made their way east towards Bayonne. Pictured here: breakaway riders Neilson Powless (front) and Laurent Pichon, the last rider to be caught. Tense, excited moments while waiting for the sprinters to hurtle into view. Mathieu van der Poel (right) rode a terrific lead-out for Jasper Philipsen … … who came up the barriers on the right … … just ahead of Phil Bauhaus and Caleb Ewan … … to take his third career stage win at the Tour de France. Philipsen’s girlfriend, Melanie Peetermans, was at the finish to help celebrate. Adam Yates leaves the Basque Country in the overall lead. His teammate, and two-time winner Tadej Pogačar is right behind him, just six seconds off the pace … What did you think of this story?
😐Meh 😊️Solid 🤩Excellent