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Tour de France stage one LIVE: Bilbao to Bilbao

Updates as the 2023 Tour de France kicks off in the Basque Country

Follow live updates from the stage one of the 2023 Tour de France.

I'm Richard Abraham and I'll be kicking off CW's live coverage of this year's Tour. Tweet me your questions and comments @rabrahamcycling

One of the toughest opening stages in recent Tour history awaits the 176 riders in the peloton today.

Five categorised climbs and over 3000m of total elevation are on the menu as the race begins with a 182km loop in the Basque Country, starting and finishing in Bilbao. 

The expected finish time in Bilbao is between 17:15 - 17:42 CET (16:15 - 16:42 BST)

*A breakaway of five riders lead the Tour through the Basque Country as the peloton awaited a feisty finale. Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X), Simon Guglielmi (Arkéa-Samsic), Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto Dstny), Valentin Ferron (TotalEnergies) all broke away from the gun. 

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Good morning and welcome to the live coverage of today's opening stage of the 2023 Tour de France.

One of the most hotly anticipated days of the cycling year is upon us. Who will win the first stage and don the first yellow jersey of the Tour de France?

Looking at today's stage profile, I think we can say that it won't be a sprinter. There's barely a metre of flat road. 

Tour de France 2023 stage 1 profile

(Image credit: ASO)

Of course we already know that the 2023 Tour will be, in the words of the race director Christian Prudhomme, "one for the climbers."

Today is a stage where the key GC favourites - Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar chief among them - will have to be alert and on their guard. 

Speaking ahead of the race, defending champion Vingegaard said he expects his Slovenian rival to attack early on in the race. 

"When you have opportunities at the Tour you take it. Sometimes you need to hold your horses, but this year, with this first week, we’re going to see a lot of racing. The first or second stage is already a chance to take the yellow jersey"

Tadej Pogačar

Despite that wrist injury that has seen him race just two days since April, Tadej Pogačar also recognises that there are real opportunities to be seized in the opening stages of this year's Tour. 

Twenty days would be a long time to defend the yellow jersey, mind... 

Pello Bilbao

Pello Bilbao in Bilbao

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the favourites for today's stage, however, is ultimate local rider Pello Bilbao.

I mean, he's got the same name as the start and finish town AND he was born just down the road in Guernica, where the stage's intermediate sprint will be contested. 

Pello recently spoke to the media about his hopes for the stage

Tour de France 2023 stage one map

(Image credit: ASO)

It's typical Basque weather in Bilbao today - damp and grey - and the riders will be on classic Basque roads. 

Here's the map for today's stage. Besides the ups and downs, there will be constant twists and turns along slick asphalt. It will make for a very nervy start in a very nervy bunch. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (182km to go):

The riders have lined up at the start line in Bilbao and are rolling, the 2023 Tour de France is officially underway! 

Just a 25 minute neutralised zone before the flag drops. 

Of course, this is not always without incident. Chris Froome crashed in the neutral kilometres on the first stage of the 2013 Tour. Things turned out alright for him that year, though. 

Thanks for joining us today, by the way. I'm Richard Abraham and I'll be kicking off CW's live coverage of this year's Tour. 

You can tweet me your questions and comments @rabrahamcycling

And they're off!

Christian Prudhomme waves his flag from the top of the red Skoda and the attacks start to fly. 

It's just 14km to the top of the day's first categorised climb: the Côte de Laukiz (2.2km at 6.9%). 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (170km to go):

For all that anticipation, the break seems to have gone clear at the first opportunity. Five riders are 1:30 up the road, and here they are:

Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X), Simon Guglielmi (Arkéa-Samsic), Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto Dstny), Valentin Ferron (TotalEnergies). 

Jonas Gregaard leads the break over the first categorised climb of the day; this is shaping up to be a ding-dong battle between the breakaway riders to snap up the early points in the King of the Mountains classification and end the day in the polka-dot jersey 

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Loads of fans out on the roadside, as you would expect. The Basque Country is a place that really loves and appreciates its bike racing. 

Earlier we mentioned local rider Pello Bilbao. He will be donating a 1€ for every rider he beats during the stages of this year's Tour to a reforestation project. 

The fundraising is a wonderful tribute to his late teammate Gino Mäder, who carried out a similar fundraising effort at the 2021 Vuelta a España. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (147km to go):

All the big players are staying vigilant at the front of the peloton as the break maintains its lead of around 1:25

Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers are present in numbers, with UAE tucked in behind them. 

Alpecin-Deceuninck have a rider up front in Silvan Dillier, just helping to keep things under control for Mathieu van der Poel. 

Then course there's Tim 'the Tractor' Declercq, the Soudal-QuickStep breakaway killer pulling the peloton along as he will be for much of the remaining three weeks. He's got Julian Alaphilippe to work for today. 

Pretty good nickname, the Tractor. 

Cycling has always been a great sport for nicknames. The Badger, the Professor, the Cobra, the Tashkent Terror, the Cricket, Spartacus, the Sheriff, the Cannibal, Old Leatherhead, the Pirate... the list goes on. 

Julio Jimenéz, aka the Watchmaker of Ávila, has always been a personal fave.

Tour de France 2023 stage one

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tour de France 2023 stage one (130km to go):

The ikurrina flags of the Basque Country fluttering as the breakaway passes through. A relatively calm opening to the stage so far - about 10km to go before the next categorised climb of the day, the Côte de San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (3.5km at 7.6%). 

Two more KoM points on offer at the top to the first over the top. 

Nice to see the British national champion's jersey on the shoulders of Fred Wright at this year's Tour.

Fred is one of seven Brits in this year's race, along with Adam Yates, Simon Yates, Ben Turner, Tom Pidcock, Mark Cavendish and James Shaw. 

Shaw, 27, is making his Tour debut this year after a great ride at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June. It's been a long and winding road for the EF Education-EasyPost rider. 

He spoke to CW's Tom Thewlis ahead of the race, saying that he came back from the Dauphiné "in the best shape I’ve ever been in." 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (114km to go):

Pascal Eenkhoorn mops up the two points on the Côte de San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. Gruppo compatto in the peloton behind.

I get the feeling that the big guns are keeping their powder dry for the big finale of this stage. All this constant climbing will all add up and nobody wants any early efforts to come back to haunt them. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (100km to go):

The five-man break is still at 1:30 as we approach the intermediate sprint at Guernica. 

You know what? I think I'll put the Basque Country on my list of places to visit. It looks fantastic. 

Jai Hindley at the official teams presentation of the 2023 Tour de France in Bilbao

(Image credit: Anne-Christine Poujoulat / Getty)

Beyond Pogačar and Vingegaard, who else should we look out for today in the fight for the yellow jersey? 

Take a look at CW's form guide to the overall favourites at this year's Tour de France

Tour de France 2023 stage one (93km to go):

After picking up some KoM points, Pascal Eenkhoorn grinds out the maximum points in the intermediate sprint in Guernica from the breakaway. 

A surprising number of riders in the peloton are interested in the sprint behind - Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) all look to have enjoyed stretching their legs. Mark Cavendish up there too. 

Tour de France

(Image credit: ASO)

One rider who definitely wasn't interested in the intermediate sprint was Wout Van Aert. His eyes are very much on the stage win - and yesterday he set a new Strava KoM on the final climb, the Pike Bidea (or Côte de Pike in Tour speak). 

Coming with 9.6km to go, this is what will no doubt decide who battles for the stage. As ever, the profile only tells half the story. Some of the hairpins are much steeper than 15%... 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (82km to go):

The first sign that nerves and fatigue are building in the peloton as Torstein Træen (Uno-X) comes to grief in a little tumble. He's back up and riding. 

Didi the devil

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tour de France 2023 stage one (67km to go):

The happy sight of Didi the Devil cavorting around in his red onesie greets the riders as then enter the last two hours of racing. 

The peloton has been winding in the breakaway as more teams move to the front and assemble in support of their protected riders. Groupama-FDJ and Jayco-AlUla are the latest to take their places. 

The gap is now hovering at around 25 seconds. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (57km to go):

The next 15 kilometres are going to be crucial ones for the peloton as riders and teams start to fight for position going into the finale. Three categorised climbs pepper the last 45km, with very little let up between them. 

The breakaway is holding off the peloton at 23 seconds while Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Qazaqstan) is a minute further back following a bike change. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (54km to go):

It's been a very calm start to the Tour de France so far, particularly when one considers the usual tension and crashes that have characterised the opening stages in years gone by. Who can forget Omi-Opi in 2021... 

With that in mind, it would be no surprise to see the riders hit warp speed once these last climbs come into view. It should be a fast and furious final hour. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (50km to go):

If the honours of winning the stage aren't enough, there are bonus seconds on offer on the final climb and again at the finish. 

10, 6 and 4 seconds go to the top three on the stage, with an additional 8, 5 and 2 up for grabs for the first three over the final climb. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (50km to go):

The peloton has made the catch and the breakaway is absorbed on the flat roads leading into the final trio of climbs. 

So... stop watching the cricket and turn your attention to the Tour de France. Who will make the next move? 

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Big crowds on the final climb! 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (43km to go):

The bunch is really starting to string out now as the pace at the front intensifies. EF Education-EasyPost riders James Shaw and Magnus Cort move to the front. Biniam Grmay (Intermarché) is well placed. UAE Team Emirates also move up en masse in a show of strength. 

At the other end, the likely names are beginning to drop back, including Mark Cavendish and Alexander Kristoff. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (40km to go):

The teams are executing a policy of mutually assured aggression at the moment; riding hard at the front because everybody else is riding hard at the front. Bit by bit, the pace seems to ramp up and the effort begins to appear on the riders' faces. 

That's the first of the final three climbs done with; 10km and they start climbing the second category Côte de Vivero. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (31km to go):

The cream is rising to the top as we approach the penultimate climb. We catch a glimpse of Mathieu van der Poel for the first time today; they're racing this like the end of a one-day Classic. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (29km to go):

Tadej Pogačar sends his UAE Team Emirates domestique Mikkel Bjerg to the front and the Dane sets an infernal pace. His objective must surely be to put the heavier riders under pressure and at the moment, it seems to be working. The peloton is stretched out in one long line but Jonas Vingegaard has Dylan van Baarle and Wout Van Aert for company. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (27km to go):

Now it's Jumbo-Visma's turn to play. An ominous cohort of yellow and black jerseys coalesces around Jonas Vingegaard at the front of the bunch while the inscrutable Dylan van Baarle (in the red, white and blue of Dutch national champion) leads them on. 

Mikkel Bjerg, by the way, is done for the day. Also out the back: Biniam Grmay and Pello Bilbao, along with many others. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (27km to go):

Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) nabs the five points at the top of the climb, which more or less guarantees him the polka dot jersey at the end of the day. Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) was a cool customer in his wheel but couldn't kick hard enough to get around the American. 

Tour de France stage one

All hands on deck on stage one of the 2023 Tour

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tour de France 2023 stage one (20km to go):

Oh no! A crash on the fast descent sends Enric Mas (Movistar) and Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) to the deck. 

Both are up and moving but it's not looking good for either of them in terms of continuing in the race. That would be a big blow for those two teams to lose their GC riders so early. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (16km to go):

This is the Tour de France first stage we have come to expect. It's stressful, it's messy, there is confusion and there are crashes. 

Jumbo-Visma is still in control as the peloton approaches this last climb. The cameras cut back to a dejected Enric Mas, who surely knows his GC ambitions - and quite likely his race, going by his expression - are over before they even began. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (12km to go):

Full-on lead-out manoeuvres for Jumbo-Visma into the final climb and the Dutch team are burning through their domestiques. Meanwhile UAE rider Felix Grossschartner has ridden so hard that he has dropped his team leader Tadej Pogačar along with the rest of the peloton. Your move, Jumbo. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (10km to go):

A brief attack from Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) comes to nought as Adam Yates leads the favourites up the brutally steep Côte de Pike. He has dragged three other riders clear - Pogačar, Vingegaard and one rider from Cofidis - on the steepest part of the climb. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (9km to go):

It's Victor Lafay who is the Cofidis rider, he's having the ride of his life. He has just Pogačar and Vingegaard for company. 

Over the top it's a handful of seconds that separate the splinters of the lead group, which may well coalesce before the finish.  

Tour de France 2023 stage one (8km to go):

Well well, that answered that question: it was a GC race after all.

Now it's the two Yates twins - Adam and Simon - who are together off the front!

Tour de France 2023 stage one (6km to go):

A fascinating early show of form so early on in the Tour. Jumbo-Visma - including Wout Van Aert - are working hard to drag back the Yates brothers. They have a handful of seconds. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (4km to go):

It's all in now for Adam and Simon Yates; how will this effort leave them for the little rise to the line with one kilometre to go? 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (3km to go):

It's game over for Van der Poel, Alaphilippe, Pidcock and many of the pre-stage favourites. They sit in a group 45 seconds back. 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (2km to go):

The Yates brothers are working well together and they still have 16 seconds on the Jumbo led chase. Can they hold on!? They might just do this, you know... 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (1km to go):

Under the flamme rouge and the Yates brothers have 20 seconds!

Tour de France 2023 stage one (1km to go):

I think they have this... do they start playing games?!

Tour de France 2023 stage one (500m to go):

The champagne bottles are being shaken up in Lancashire. Simon just starts to drop back from Adam... 

Tour de France 2023 stage one (100m to go):

They're dancing in the streets of Bury! 

Adam Yates wins stage one of the 2023 Tour de France! 

His brother Simon just dropped back with a few hundred metres to go. Tadej Pogačar leads the chasing bunch for third place. 

UAE talked up Adam Yates as co-leader of the team before the start of