2023 Saudi Tour Stage 1 Preview

Alula Airport > Khaybar 181.2km

The sprint stages in this part of the world are all the same, they’re either incredibly boring or the wind blows and they’re a lot of fun. Fingers crossed it’s the latter.


Cloudy sun and pleasant temperatures. The wind comes from the south-west and will reach 25km/h.


Given the direction of the wind, it’s crosswind for most of the day. The wind is meant to strengthen throughout the day, but remember, it doesn’t take much to split things in the desert.


Dylan Groenewegen – this is a big race for Jayco, it’s the homes race for their new sponsor, AlUla. The team look to have built everything around winning sprint stages, they have Štybar, Reinders and Mezgec to help lead out Groenewegen. This looks very strong, but we’ll have to see what happens in the wind, Groenewegen doesn’t always cope that well in an echelon.

Jonathan Milan – I was seriously impressed with him at the end of last year. He’s a massive unit and can produce mega watts in the sprints. He should have Pasqualon and Rajović to help in the closing kilometres, and I doubt he’ll have problems in the wind considering the size of him.

Pascal Ackermann – last year wasn’t his best, but he still won two races. The German arrives at this race without a recognised sprint train but expect to see Gibbons and Oliveira trying to help him out. He’s got the speed to win, but he needs a good position in the final kilometre.

Casper van Uden – the Dutch sprinter has just made the move to the full DSM team, and he’s bloody quick. His sprint train haven’t raced together yet, but I think it looks very impressive. They have Edmondson, Degenkolb and Eekhoff to help guide van Uden into position, that’s a great sprint train if you ask me.

Max Walscheid – started 2022 in great fashion but a training crash derailed a lot of his season. It didn’t keep him off the bike for too long, but he struggled to recapture his best form. He’ll be hoping for wind, and Cofidis bring a strong sprint train to help him, if he’s the one who gets the nod. They have Noppe, Allegaert and Consonni, that’s the best Cofidis lead out I’ve seen for a long time.

Cees Bol – he was brought to Astana as part of the Cavendish deal, but he’ll also get plenty of chances to ride for himself throughout the year. Remember, this is a guy who’s won a stage of Paris-Nice and was 2nd in a Tour de France sprint stage. I find he’s underrated as a sprinter, but not by me. He doesn’t have much help in this race, he’ll be hoping the wind blows, he’s brilliant in an echelon.

Prediction Time

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Sorry to be boring, but Dylan Groenewegen should be winning this one.