PREVIEW | Tour de France 2023 stage 3 - Philipsen, Jakobsen and Groenewegen headline first royal sprint battle

Preview. The opening weekend of the Tour de France has seen quite a lot of spectacle, but the race finally calms down. Stage 3 will be the first day where the sprinters can fight for the win, as the race enters France.

Stage 3 of the Tour de France will be the first for the pure sprinters, although it won't be a completely flat run-in into France and the coastal city of Bayonne. The start isn't the same however, starting in the Basque Country the riders face a 4.2 kilometers climb at 5.7% in the opening kilometers. The first half of the day features quite a few ascents, 4 categorized, making for a tricky day if some teams think of spinning a high gear there.

Estimated start and finish times for Tour de France stage 3: 13:00-17:30CET

PREVIEW | Tour de France 2023 stage 3 - Philipsen, Jakobsen and Groenewegen headline first royal sprint battle
Stage 3: Amorebieta-Etzano - Bayonne, 188.7 kilometers

However it's unlikely that there will be teams spending bullets there purely for fatigue, as there won't be an alliance of many teams going all out for the last 102 kilometers. From there on it's a bit easier for the fast men, the final hilltop then comes with 20 kilometers to go, 3.3 kilometers at 4%. There is a slight chance the pace may be pushed there, but most likely the gradients aren't hard enough to drop anyone.

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The riders then ride quickly into Bayonne for the first finale on French territory. It will be a tense finale with a roundabout coming with 2.4 kilometers and a long 180-defree corner just before 2Km to go, and then a sharp rise with a 200-meter ramp, followed by a small descent and slight corner into the final kilometer. There are a few moments to recover position still, the finale will be flat but with a slight left corner with 200 meters to go will make for a specific fight for position on the left side.

PREVIEW | Tour de France 2023 stage 3 - Philipsen, Jakobsen and Groenewegen headline first royal sprint battle
Stage 3 Finale
PREVIEW | Tour de France 2023 stage 3 - Philipsen, Jakobsen and Groenewegen headline first royal sprint battle

The Weather

PREVIEW | Tour de France 2023 stage 3 - Philipsen, Jakobsen and Groenewegen headline first royal sprint battle
Map Tour de France 2023 stage 3

The wind will blow from the north and it will not be gentle! If it's strong enough to create splits it isn't likely, but there are decent chances that it can happen, tension will certainly be high. The opening two thirds of the stage will have some hills to cover, but from 40 to 25 kilometers to go it will be exposed and splits can happen. It then calms down, if the wind is felt it'll be a crosswind in the final sprint.

The Favourites

Jasper Philipsen - There is no real man to beat in this sprint, as will be the case in most sprints in this Tour. However if you could name anyone it'd be Philipsen because his positioning skills are fantastic and he's virtually got no weak points. Furthermore, the Belgian may have Mathieu van der Poel assisting in the leadout, which would provide a bit more firepower - although I think it'll be key not to over rely on the teammates, this will be extremely chaotic!

Fabio Jakobsen - Winner of two sprints in Belgium, he definitely has the form. Now he has a tougher task in positioning - but in reality all riders will. A very strong leadout packed with rouleurs, if he can follow Michael Morkov - which hasn't happened much this year - he can take this win for sure.

Dylan Groenewegen - The climbing in the stage won't favour him, as is the case with other pure sprinters, however I think he should be alright. It'll be tricky, he has Luka Mezgec as a great final leadout man but it'll be hard for him to get through the final kilometers I recon.

Sam Welsford - Obviously the reason why I'm having him here as a topic for discussion is because he won today's intermediate sprint in the peloton. Welsford has the speed, I think DSM is honestly not prepared for the kind of sprints that will take place here, but if he can follow the wheels well then he definitely has the speed to win a stage this year.

Jumbo - Visma - The question is on which, or if at all, any of the Jumbo-Visma sprinters will go for it. Wout van Aert will not go for green, he says, but he did say that his best chances lay in the sprints. Of course, those were days like today and not stage 3 where he will just be another rider in the extensive list of fast men. Christophe Laporte also said he won't go for green, both riders will likely look to help Jonas Vingegaard with positioning but Jumbo-Visma have enough rouleurs to do both tasks honestly.

It's only the first sprint of many, the list will include tons of world-class fast men. Mads Pedersen is a prime candidate for green and will want to take all the points he can. You've got veteran sprinters who don't stand many chances but will naturally try to take a strong result such as Alexander Kristoff and Peter Sagan. You've got Caleb Ewan who struggles with positioning, but if he nails it he should have the speed to win. Add Biniam Girmay and Phil Bauhaus who have World Tour wins in sprints this year, and Jordi Meeus who has a very strong leadout and will be keen to test it out in such a grand race.

Adding to all those, of course, you have Mark Cavendish who has here, on a regular Tour de France day, a chance to make history as the highest winning rider in the race's history. The day will lack the climbs to make a real selection in the race, some of those who prefer those days will nevertheless try their luck out here still such as Bryan Coquard, Corbin Strong and Alex Aranburu. Perhaps Magnus Cort Nielsen would also be one to consider.

Prediction Tour de France 2023 stage 3:

*** Jasper Philipsen, Fabio Jakobsen
** Dylan Groenewegen, Sam Welsford, Mads Pedersen, Jordi Meeus
* Wout van Aert, Biniam Girmay, Caleb Ewan, Peter Sagan, Phil Bauhaus, Alexander Kristoff, Mark Cavendish

Pick: Jasper Philipsen

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