Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Speaking after the Tour’s route presentation in Paris on Thursday, Visbeek said that the opening week of the race would give the Eritrean plenty of opportunities to notch up another grand tour stage win. He added that the significant lack of TT kilometers would also be a boost for GC man Louis Meintjes.
The route of the 2023 Tour de France was unveiled yesterday with a tricky grand départ in the Basque Country. The opening two stages feature punchy climbs that could offer Girmay a chance to not only win a stage but don the yellow jersey. There are some more traditional sprint stages to tackle, too.
- Intermarché team becomes Intermarché-Circus-Wanty for 2023 in season of renewal
- Intermarché: No deal yet for Pozzovivo but team aims to be competitive despite ‘grand tour vulnerability’
- 10 breakthrough stars of the men’s peloton in 2022
“This course is what we were hoping for, taking into account the roster we had in mind for the Tour de France 2023. On the one hand, it will be three challenging weeks through the mountain ranges with a limited number of time trial kilometers, which matches perfectly with the profile of our GC leader Louis Meintjes,” Visbeek said.
“Second, I’m pleased with the hilly stages in the beginning of the Tour. This increases the opportunities for Biniam Girmay compared to the pure sprinters, who will battle for stage wins in the second half of the event. After finishing in the top eight of the final classification and taking to three podium finishes in key stages to Arenberg, Alpe d’Huez, and in Paris last July, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert will keep chasing a precious first-stage win in its sixth participation to La Grande Boucle.”
Girmay has made a name for himself as one of the most exciting young talents in cycling after stepping into the WorldTour late last year.
Following a standout classics season, where he became the first Eritrean to win Gent-Wevelgem, he made his grand tour debut at the Giro d’Italia. He had several close calls in the opening week before finally taking a win on stage 10, beating Mathieu van der Poel in a sprint following a hectic finale.
Girmay’s race was, however, cut short when the cork from his celebratory prosecco bottle popped out unexpectedly and hit him in the eye. He was taken to hospital and pulled out of the race ahead of the following stage.
There was some speculation that Girmay might ride this year’s Tour de France following his early Giro departure, but Intermarché has been careful not to push him too soon. Instead, he went home for several weeks before returning to Europe in late July to begin the second half of his season.
Should Girmay ride the Tour de France next year, and avoid any stray corks, he would be a favorite for the green jersey title alongside defending champion Wout van Aert.