Team Jayco AlUla has named its strong and versatile eight–rider team for the 110thedition of Le Tour de France starting on Saturday, 1st July in Bilbao, Spain.
Five-time stage winner Dylan Groenewegen and former white jersey and two-time stage winner Simon Yates will lead the Australian outfit’s dual approach, as the squad targets both the sprint and mountainous stages.
A focus on sprint finishes
Flying the flag in all potential bunch sprint finishes will be Groenewegen, the Dutchman who got the ball rolling early in the 2022 edition, with his impressive victory on stage three in Denmark.
The 30-year-old will have a fine-tuned support squad around him with Slovenian lead-out man Luka Mezgec, a former two-time TDF stage runner up, and fellow Dutchman Elmar Reinders, who is set to make his Grand Tour debut at the ‘Grande Boucle’.
“I have had a good season with six wins and a good preparation going into this year’s Tour. I have been working really well and developing more with Luka Mezgec and the rest of the lead-out train and we’re confident heading into the race.
The legs are good, the team is strong and of course it will just depend on the final metres of the stages, but we are arriving with the best possible preparation and a team to win.
Last year it was really special to get a stage win so early on, on day three, and it would be really nice if we can do this again. I think it will be a good Tour, the team spirit is really high and after seeing the success we had at the Giro, everybody is super motivated.”
Eyes on the mountains
Yates, who skipped this year’s Giro d’Italia for the first time in six years, has his eyes fully focused on the Tour’s mountainous stages – no surprises there. With a hard and hilly start in the Basque Country, 2023 looks to suit the Briton’s racing style from day one, giving him a realistic chance to add more Grand Tour success to his extensive list of palmares.
To assist the 30-year-old climber in the mountains will be Australia’s Chris Harper and American all-rounder Lawson Craddock, who will be in important support roles when the roads head north during the gruelling three weeks.
Providing the horsepower day in, day out on the flat and for positioning into climbs, the team will count on the ever-reliable Australian Luke Durbridge, who brings a wealth of experience, lining up for his ninth TDF along with Dane Chris Juul-Jensen, who is set for his sixth appearance.
“On paper it looks really good and a course that suits me quite well, so I’m really looking forward to this year’s edition. I always love racing in the Basque Country, so to be starting there is very special. The narrow roads, the steep climbs, the amazing Basque fans, I think it is going to be really memorable.
We have a well-built team and clear objectives, for me of course the goals are in the mountains. I had a different build up to the Tour this year with less racing and more training and I have good sensations, so we will see. As we’ll be targeting sprint stages with Dylan, it will be full on for us with a dual approach and everyone is very excited to get started. It’s the Tour, everyone wants to be a part of it, and every edition I start, is a real privilege.”
A heavy start
Starting in the Bilbao and heading north to cross the border into France on stage three, 2023 has the foundations for an exciting ‘Grand Depart’ that will test the climber’s legs from the get-go. Unlike other recent editions, the Pyrenees will make an appearance early on, as opposed to the Alps, and the first hill-top finish comes on stage six, making the opening week a potentially pivotal one for the general classification battle.
The limited number of time trialling kilometres, with only one race against the clock coming in at 22km in length, may also influence the overall classification fight. Culminating on the Champs Elysée before the final stage moves to Nice for 2024, one thing is for sure: it is all set to be a memorable edition.
Brent Copeland – General Manager
“It’s that time of year again, it’s time for the Tour, an event that we have of course been preparing for in great detail, and we are confident we have selected a well-balanced and strong team that can achieve the goals we have set out.
We are looking forward to showcasing to our fans and our sponsors, who we are forever grateful to, for their continued support and belief in our team. It will be an exhilarating edition, particularly with the Grand Depart and the flow of the route this year.
We have goals for both the sprints and in the mountains and we hope, like last year, we can come away with results that reflect the dedication and hard work that has gone into preparing for the event. It is one of the most intense and challenging races on the calendar from all aspects, and that is what makes it so special and those victories even sweeter.”
Mathew Hayman – Sport Director
“I am really looking forward to taking this team on the road at the TDF. Our two leaders, Simon Yates and Dylan Groenewegen, have both been very successful at the TDF in the past. To support them we have Chris Harper, who is new to the team this year and is lining up for his debut TDF, and will be there for Simon in the mountains. Dylan’s trusted lead-out man in Luka Mezgec and fellow Dutch rider Elmar Reinders.
We then have some seasoned professionals and guys that have real experience and really know how to get through a workload at the TDF, both on the flat for supporting Dylan, and in the mountains to a certain extent supporting Simon. These are Lawson Craddock, Luke Durbridge and Chris Juul-Jensen, these kind of guys you need in a three-week tour, they’re very handy on all fronts. It is a great and well-balanced team and we’re ready to get started in the Basque Country.”
Team Jayco AlUla at the 2023 TDF:
Lawson Craddock – (USA) 3rd appearance
Luke Durbridge – (AUS) 9th appearance
Dylan Groenewegen – (NED) 6th appearance
Chris Harper – (AUS) Debut appearance
Chris Juul-Jensen – (DEN) 6th appearance
Luka Mezgec – (SLO) 4th appearance
Elmar Reinders – (NED) Debut appearance
Simon Yates – (GBR) 6th appearance
Team Jayco AlUla’s Tour de France Team Stats:
Youngest rider: Chris Harper (28)
Oldest rider: Luka Mezgec (34)
Tour de France debutants: Harper & Reinders (2x)
Most Tour de France appearances: Luke Durbridge (9x)
Total Tour de France appearances: (44x)