Tour de France organisers have made last-minute modifications to stage 1 after realising the bonus seconds offered mid-stage could result in the winner of the opening stage not taking the yellow jersey as well.
At the top of the final of five categorised climbs on the opening stage of the 2023 Tour, the third category Côte de Pike, bonus seconds were originally offered before being removed by the race organisers. Eight bonus seconds are awarded to the first person to cross this point on the course, with five and two seconds awarded to the second and third rider over the top of the climb.
With 10, 6, and 4 bonus seconds awarded in order to each of the first three riders across the finish line in Bilbao, this would mean that a rider who was first over the top of the Côte de Pike but finished second or third on the stage would move into the yellow jersey. Alternatively, a rider could be second over the top of the Côte de Pike and then finish second on the stage and accrue 11 bonus seconds, which could move them into first in the general classification if the stage winner didn’t take any bonus seconds on the final climb.
In a message communicating the alteration, ASO said the reason was so that the stage winner would take yellow, as is tradition.
Now, the Côte de Pike, 2 km long with an average gradient of 10 per cent and situated 10 km from the finish, which many have been likening to Belgium’s Mur de Huy, will simply offer some polka dot jersey points as well as a potential launchpad for the race’s first stage winner and yellow jersey.
Tadej Pogačar, Mathieu van der Poel, and Wout van Aert are amongst the favourites for the stage, while Julian Alaphilippe will be trying to emulate his opening day victory of two years ago to secure an early French yellow jersey as well as a stage win, with the home nation having to wait until stage 20 last year for their only glory of the race courtesy of Christophe Laporte.
In additional modifications, stage 3 has been lengthened by 6.1 km in order to avoid a “risky roundabout” as described by race organisers. This means the new stage distance will be 193.5 km and the total distance of the Tour ticks above 3,400 kilometres to 3,405.6 km.
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