Australia’s own 2011 Tour de France champion, Cadel Evans has predicted a return to the top step of the Paris podium for a former champion, as all eyes look forward to a clash of two cycling heavyweights at the 2023 Tour de France.

Last year’s GC champion Jonas Vingegaard will come up against two-time champion Tadej Pogačar in a duel for yellow that has the cycling world abuzz with anticipation.

However, with Pogačar having been forced to rest due to injury of late, Evans believes the Slovenian champ will return with a vengeance.

“I’m thinking the timing of the accident is actually going to be a blessing in disguise,” Evans said.

“With a bit of rest, he can come back, stay focused and be confident in his team’s plan. I think he’s going to be the guy to beat.”

UAE Team Emirates’ Pogačar had a spectacular Spring Classics season, with wins in Paris-Nice, Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne before a crash in Liège-Bastogne-Liège left the 24-year-old requiring an operation to his wrist.

Last year, he was denied a third GC victory in as many years, with the might of Jumbo-Visma supporting Vingegaard to a decisive win on the Col du Granon, and then onto Paris.

But in defeat, valuable lessons were taken, believes Evans.

“I think Vingegaard taught Pog and his team a lesson or two last year.”

“But I think he’s [Pogačar] going into the Tour a wiser, slightly more conservative, and more efficient rider in 2023.”

2022 Giro d’Italia winner Jai Hindley headlines a record-equalling contingent of twelve Australians into France this year, with fans Down Under hoping for homegrown success on the flat stages as well as the mountains.

Hindley, who raced the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race for Bora-hansgrohe in January this year, makes his eagerly awaited Tour de France debut.

“Jai is going to be our guy to follow,” Evans said.

“I’d like to think he’s going to go there and test himself against the very best. No expectations. See how he can go, see what he can do, and then take it from there.”


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Narrowly missing the podium at the Critérium du Dauphiné to fellow Australian and AG2R-Citroën leader Ben O’Connor by 20 seconds, it is a promising preview for both the Australians.

“Ben O’Connor’s results in the Dauphinè were really promising. I think he performed above expectations there – a solid showing against the guys that matter, in a race that matters.”

“I always find the Dauphinè is such a good replica for the Tour – I think it’s the best lead-in race for a GC race.”

It’s likely that Stage 3 and 4 will be the first major chance for Aussie pocket-rocket Caleb Ewan to make his mark, after an unfortunate beginning to his year.

On two occasions Ewan was beaten in photo finishes, with questions even raised on the quality of the photo finish equipment. A rebounding win at the Van Merksteijn Fences Classic in late May sees Ewan, a five-time Tour de France stage winner, enter the race with the complete backing of his Lotto-Dstny team.

“I really want to see Caleb have a change in fortune and have the opportunity to show us what he is capable of,” Evans added.

Ewan was also within the bunch sprint earlier this year at the 2023 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, edged out by Simon Clarke for third.

Clarke returns to the Tour de France one year after his dramatic and career-defining stage win on the cobbled roads of Arenberg. The 36-year-old from Israel-Premier Tech almost claimed an incredible breakaway victory at this year’s Giro, being caught within the final 300m of the 162-kilometre stage.

It’s likely a final fairy-tale stage win will be on Clarke’s radar again in 2023.

Other Tour highlights circled by Evans include a potential history-making achievement by Isle of Man legend Mark Cavendish.

Cavendish will be aiming to become the outright leader for stage wins at the Tour de France, looking to break Eddy Merckx’ record set in 1975.

“I think Cav going for a 35th stage win is something we’d all love to see,” Evans said.

As in previous years, the Tour de France’s initial stages start aboard. Stage 1 will begin in Bilbao, in Spain’s northern region – Basque Country.

Evans will be there commentating for English broadcaster ITV, a region of the world he looks fondly upon.

“I’ve ridden a few stages of the Vuelta [a Espana] through there – it’s a beautiful city and that region has such a beautiful coastline. I remember riding through there once and having déjà vu of Australia and thinking it’s actually very similar to parts of our coastline.”

“Basque Country has a very strong cycling culture – the fans are really passionate. Much like Australia, they don’t have a massive population, but they punch above their weight and make up for it by their enthusiasm.”

Stay tuned to @cadelroadrace across Instagram and Twitter for on-the-ground coverage of the 2023 Tour de France.

Australians listed as starters in the 2023 Tour de France:

  • Simon Clarke(VIC) Israel-Premier Tech
  • Matt Dinham(NSW) Team DSM-Firmenich
  • Luke Durbridge(WA) Jayco-AlUla
  • Alex Edmondson(SA) Team DSM-Firmenich
  • Caleb Ewan(NSW) Lotto-Dstny
  • Jack Haig(VIC) Bahrain Victorious
  • Chris Hamilton(VIC) Team DSM-Firmenich
  • Chris Harper(SA) Jayco-AlUla
  • Jai Hindley(WA) Bora-Hansgrohe
  • Ben O’Connor(WA) AG2R Citröen Team
  • Nick Schultz (QLD) Israel-Premier Tech
  • Sam Welsford(WA) Team DSM-Firmenich