Chartres > Tours 214km
Basically, it’s the same route as last year, it’s all about the final 50km.
Hot and sunny, which means lots of dust.
It’s hard to make big selections due to the relatively short length of the sectors.
This is from 50km to go until 10km to go, this is where the race winning move usually goes. Lots of little climbs and gravel roads which begged to be attacked.
This is a race which can be decided by crashes and mechanicals, there’s an element of luck required. You can never be sure how the race will play out, we had a bunch sprint last year, that was the first time it had happened since the organisers brought in the gravel roads. Before that, we had five editions where a small group fought out the win, what will happen this year?
FDJ were the team who ensured it ended in a sprint last year, despite having a man in the break. Being up the road is the safest place to be, get ahead of the chaos of the peloton is what many riders will be trying to do. Back in the bunch we’ll see who wants to chase, with several sprinters here, there’s going to be a few teams hoping it plays out like last year. The key is the domestiques, coming at the end of a long season, the peloton can often run out of legs in the final 20km, with the late attackers taking the spoils.
Arnaud De Lie – can they find a bike that can hold his power? De Lie is enjoying a fine run of form, but poor positioning cost him in Binche. He’s the real deal, the kid will be one of the best cyclists in the world for many years to come, Lotto are very lucky to have him. He’ll ride aggressively, it’s the only way he knows how, I don’t see him simply waiting for a sprint. He’ll be on the front foot, looking to see if he can split the race and go to the line in a small group.
Arnaud Démare – two consecutive wins for him in this race, he won from a small group in 2021 and a big group in 2022, it’s a race he loves. He’s won his last two races, Tour de Vendée and Paris-Bourges, so he arrives here full of confidence, Arkéa will be delighted with their new signing. His approach to the finale will depend on how many teammates he’s got left; he knows he can win this race in multiple ways. A confident Démare is a hard man to beat.
Christophe Laporte – won’t win from a bunch sprint, he needs the race to split. He was unlucky not to win in Germany, but the legs are clearly good just now. Last year, he was involved in a couple of crashes and didn’t play a role in the race, he’ll be hoping for better luck this time round.
Rasmus Tiller – the big Norwegian has a great record in gravel/cobble races, he’s a specialist. The form is good, but the problem for him is the presence of faster finishers, he needs a small group without those already mentioned.
Kaden Groves – after a brilliant Vuelta, he still looks strong after finishing 2nd in both Ardenne Classic and Münsterland Giro. Last year, he was involved in crashes, he’ll be hoping to dodge them this time round. He showed in Germany that he’s not adverse to riding an aggressive race, if the opportunity is there, he’ll go for it. Waiting for a sprint finish in this race is always risky, you could end up blocked in the peloton.
Jasper Stuyven – came close to winning in 2021, and after taking home the recent gravel Euro Champs, he comes here full of confidence. Like Tiller, the problem is the presence of faster finishers, even in a small group. Trek look to be one of the strongest teams, Stuyven will hope they can split the race and he can take the win.
Matteo Trentin – always seems to go well at this time of the season. UAE are looking to win the best team title, and they’ve got a couple of options in this race. After finishing 4th in Binche, Trentin will hope to be challenging for the win.
Tim Wellens – provides UAE with another option. Okay, you normally have to be a sprinter to win here, but if UAE can get a couple of riders in the front group, Tim could take advantage of their numbers. One thing is for sure, he’s riding very well just now.
As long as he doesn’t break his bike, it’s a win for Arnaud “The Bull” De Lie.