July 11, 2023
Vulcania to Issoire – 167.2 km
Pello Bilbao claimed his first ever Tour de France victory in Issoire at the end a very hard fought breakaway. In doing so, he ended a 99-stage drought of Spanish wins since Omar Fraile in Mende in 2018 as he outsprinted Georg Zimmermann and Ben O’Connor.
The 33-year-old dedicated his victory to his teammate Gino Mäder who tragically passed away at the Tour de Suisse last month. He moved up to fifth overall while Jonas Vingegaard who went in a breakaway along with Tadej Pogacar in the early part of the race retained the yellow jersey.
Vingegaard and Pogacar Joined an Early Breakaway
Following several skirmishes, a group of 22 riders was formed at the front after the col de la Moréno crested firstly by Anton Charmig (Uno-X). Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) were part of it, along with Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) and Romain Bardet (DSM-Firmenich).
The two TDF Yellow Jersey top leaders sat up, and 13 riders remained in the lead but the peloton reacted strongly and several top riders got dropped, including Bardet, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ).
After the col de Guéry (cat. 3, km 27.3) where Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) passed first in front of Krists Neilands (Israel-Premier Tech), Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quick Step) and Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) rode away in the downhill.
14 Riders in the Lead Include Bilbao and Alaphilippe
Kasper Asgreen (Soudal-Quick Step), Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Nick Schultz (Israel-Premier Tech), Esteban Chaves (EF Education-EasyPost), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious), Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic), Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek) formed a new leading group at km 41. Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroën), Harold Tejada (Astana), Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quick Step), Neilands (Israel-Premier Tech), Antonio Pedrero (Movistar), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) launched a counter-attack.
Once the main peloton slowed down, the Gaudu-Bardet-Van Aert group managed to get back on. Asgreen lost contact and was substituted in the 7-man escape by O’Connor who took a lead in the front. The regrouping of the 14 men occurred with 86 km to go, after which Chaves rode away solo up the hill of Saint-Victor-la-Rivière.
Strong Attacks by Krists Neilands
Neilands rode away solo with 53 km to go in order to keep the chances of the escape alive while Alpecin-Deceuninck and Jayco-AlUla were swapping turns at the head of the peloton as the deficit had gone down from 3 to 2 minutes.
Van Aert and Van der Poel escaped from the peloton in a downhill with 46 km to go. They were successively brought back by the pack led by Ineos Grenadiers while Neilands had gone away by himself once again with 33 km remaining. The Latvian was brought back at the 3 km to go mark.
O’Connor tried to avoid a sprint finish with 1.8 km to go but he was marked. Bilbao and Zimmermann took an advantage in the last straight line. They were also reeled in but Bilbao still had some strength in his legs. His best result at the Tour de France so far was second at Bagnères-de-Bigorre in 2019.