2023 Mercan’Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes Preview

2023 Mercan’Tour Classic Alpes-Maritimes Previewcyclingmole

Puget-Théniers > Valberg 167km

As the Dauphiné approaches, some of the climbers take a little pit stop just outside Nice. With 4300m of climbing, it’s a huge day in the saddle, and one for the mountain experts. Last year, Jacob Fuglsang took the win, he’s back to try and defend his title.


Warm and mainly sunny.

The Climbs

La Colmiane is up first, but it’s just the starter.

Col de la Couillole is the main course; it really is a tough mountain. From the crest there’s 41km to go.

Valberg is for pudding. You’ll have anything left for seconds?


With several riders arriving from a spell at altitude, I expect most to be flying, especially with the Dauphiné starting on Sunday. The problem is that a few will find the adjustment a little difficult, you can never be 100% sure who’ll respond well just days after a block at altitude.

Richard Carapaz is the star name on the start list, he’ll be the one everyone is watching out for. Despite winning his national road race championships, his season hasn’t really got going yet. He was miles off the pace in Catalunya, and was similarly disappointing in the Basque Country, but he should now be finding some form. EF arrive with a strong climbing unit to support their star man, he won’t have to put his nose into the wind until the final climb, they look the strongest team to me so will dictate much of the day.

Also looking to get involved with be Cofidis, they have a group of strong riders to support Guillaume Martin. The rest of the teams will sit back and let these two control the day as they only have one option, which they’ll use on the final climb. We’ll see if EF and Cofidis look to fire riders up the road, forcing others into chasing, or simply roll out the old mountain train and make it an elimination race. Whatever happens, we’ll see a small group of riders together for the final 5km, and the strongest on the day will take the win.


Richard Carapaz – he’s a class above the others in this field. It’s funny, when I think about his 2022 season all I seem to remember is mild disappointment, but that’s massively unfair. Carapaz won a stage in Catalunya, finishing 2nd on GC, was also 2nd at the Giro and won 3 stages at the Vuelta, it was an excellent season. Okay, 2023 hasn’t been good, but all of that should be about to change with his big races on the horizon. Ricky starts as the overwhelming favourite in my book.

Guillaume Martin – 6th in Liège concluded a solid block of racing for him in April, but no win. The Frenchman is a proper mountain climber; he could easily squeeze into one of my pockets. Cofidis look strong, but Martin is their best on long mountains. He’ll be hoping to challenge Carapaz for the win, I think not making the podium would be a big disappointment.

Jakob Fuglsang – Tour of Hungary was his first race back after injury, he looked okay there, and should be much better here. His win here last year was followed up by 3rd in Tour de Suisse, but he couldn’t find that form in the Tour de France. If recent training has gone well, he should be able to stay with the best until near the end.

Louis Meintjes – 2nd in Sicilia was a high point of a relatively poor season for the South African. A mountains specialist, this is the type of race he should be hoping to win. Carapaz might have a better record than him, but as he’s a little on the inconsistent side, a rider like Meintjes should have confidence when going up against him. 

Felix Gall – he’s got the best form of all the contenders. 10th in the Basque Country was a good result, and he was flying in the Alps before a crash took a bit out of him. The Austrian is out of contract at the end of the year, and I expect he’s already had contract talks with a few teams, I’d certainly try and sign him if I was a DS. I used to think the longer mountains were too hard for him, but no more, he should be challenging for the podium in this race.

Clément Champoussin – excellent on his day, but he has far too many poor days for my liking.

Lenny Martinez – just 19, he’s still a baby, but he’s bloody good. His first season as a professional has already been a good one, but he’d love to match a few of his teammates by taking his first win at this level. Doing that here will be incredibly difficult, finishing in the top 5 would be a huge result.

Lennert Van Eetvelt – just won two stages and the GC in Alpes Isère, a five-day 2.2 stage race. The final stage was on Sunday, and he attacked from a long way out, I do wonder how much he’s got left in his legs. 

Prediction Time

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A first EF win for Richard Carapaz. If he’s on a good day, he’ll hammer his rivals.