2023 Tour de France Stage 18 Preview

Moûtiers > Bourg-en-Bresse 185km

Hands up who still wants a sprint? Soudal – Quick Step, Lotto, Bahrain, and Astana are now without their sprinter, so that’s four teams who won’t be chasing, Alpecin already have an outrageous four stages, they don’t need to get involved until the end, so the responsibility will be on Jayco, DSM, Lidl – Trek and a few others. I would say there’s still just about enough interest to make it a bunch sprint, but it all depends on break management. 


Sunny, temperatures will climb towards 30 degrees. 


Without doubt, the nicest sprint finish there’s been in the whole race. Approach roads are nice and wide, it’s a two-lane road with cycle lanes on either side for much of the finale. There’s a couple of corners to help line the peloton out and a roundabout with 2.7km to go with only the right-hand side open. The final corner comes with 1.5km to go, but there is a bend in the road just under the flamme rouge, those on the inside will have the best line. Teams will be able to see the finishing line from around 600m to go, and there’s a little rise in the final 200m, which will hurt those who go too early. 


The opening 45km of the stage is a gentle downhill, which is a nightmare for those hoping a strong break goes up the road. I still expect a fight as riders from many teams will have free license to go for it, but I think the sprint teams should be able to ensure a small break escapes and they can settle in for the rest of the day, but they need to be very watchful as loads of riders would love to be in the break. 

The finish is an easy one, you don’t need a long sprint train to win this stage. It’s possible for a strong unit of 3 to hide in the wheels and surge forward in the final kilometre, positioning for the final turn will be crucial. At this point in a grand tour, riders are getting very tired, it’s hard to guarantee who’ll still be going well and fighting for the win. 


Jasper Philipsen – four wins from five efforts, that’s an incredible return for the Belgian, way above what he would have hoped for from this race. Alpecin don’t have to chase the break, with wins in the bag they can sit back and let others do that job for much of the stage. They are now without Sinkeldam, who’s an important member of the sprint train, and with van der Poel still recovering from sickness, it’s not certain if he’ll be part of the train either. It’s not ideal, but after such a brilliant race, Philipsen won’t give two shits, he’s still got Jonas Rickaert! I get the feeling you won’t see much of Philipsen until the final 500m, then he’ll pop up and see if he can take his fifth win of the race. 

Dylan Groenewegen – he’s improved in just about every sprint stage, 2nd in Moulins was a good result, but he didn’t come here to finish 2nd. With Mezgec to support, he’s guaranteed to start the sprint from a good spot, but does he have the speed required to win? The obvious answer is yes, he’s one of the fastest sprinters in the world, but his confidence will have taken a dip after not getting close to Philipsen throughout this race. He needs to believe in himself and his sprint train, he’s good enough to win this stage. 

Mads Pedersen – his win in Limoges was brilliant, but he’s not got close in a bunch sprint yet. He’s got a good sprint train, but he doesn’t seem to have the speed required to challenge the purer sprinters in the race. Of course, now that we’re so deep into the race, that could all change. He produced an amazing TT; the legs are still good. 

Biniam Girmay – it’s not been the race he would have hoped for, just one top 10 result in 17 stages is poor return for him. At this point in the Tour de France, it’s hard to reverse a trend like that. 

Bryan Coquard – it’s been a typical Tour for Coquard, up and around the top 10 in all the sprint stages but without seriously challenging for a win. This is another trend which will continue in this stage. 

Alexander Kristoff – another sprinter who’ll be disappointed with his race, it’s just not clicked, but this is another chance for him. Someone with his experience is capable of surprising, especially in the final week of a grand tour. 

Sam Welsford – 10th is his best result in the race, but he’s so much faster than that suggests. I’ve been impressed by how well he’s managed to survive the mountains, but as this is his first grand tour and Tour de France, he’s bound to be on his knees.  

Jordi Meeus – they should have brought Sam Bennett. Two top 10 results in the race is what I expected from Meeus, he’s not yet fast enough to compete in a race like this, but he may be in the future.  

Matej Mohorič – breakaway hopeful number 1.

Stefan Küng – breakaway hopeful number 2. 

Remi Cavagna – breakaway hopeful number 3. 

Victor Campenaerts – breakaway hopeful number 4. 

Mathieu van der Poel – breakaway hopeful number 5. An insurance policy if a big break goes.

Prediction Time

With so many tired legs, this won’t be the easiest break to chase down, but I think the peloton will just win the game of cat and mouse. 

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Jasper Philipsen to get his 5th stage win.