Adam Yates pips twin brother Simon to stage win and yellow jersey on stage one of 2023 Tour de France

Yates brothers battle it out for stage honours and the first yellow of the race as Tadej Pogačar the best of the rest in Bilbao

Yates tour
(Image credit: SWpix.com)

Adam Yates won the battle of the British twins on the opening stage of the 2023 Tour de France to claim the first yellow jersey of the race and the first Tour stage of his career.

The UAE Team Emirates rider prized himself away from his brother inside the final few hundred metres of an exceptionally hilly stage in the Basque Country after the pair had broken clear together over the day's final climb with 9km to race. 

Just 12 seconds behind, Adam’s teammate Tadej Pogačar landed an early psychological blow to his rivals in the hunt for the overall Tour when he led the chasing group of favourites over the line.

The two-time Tour champion raised his hands in the air in celebration both of his teammate’s victory and the position of strength in which his squad now finds itself. 

Meanwhile his sprint for the line dismissed any lingering doubt about his physical fitness following his crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège earlier this season and lack of race days leading up to the Tour. 

Behind him and in ninth place was defending champion Jonas Vingegaard, who rode a largely conservative race in the wheels of his Jumbo-Visma teammates, perhaps conscious of the difficult days remaining in this highly challenging Grand Départ. 

Speaking after his win, Adam Yates played down talk of his role as co-leader of his UAE team. 

“When I can do things like this to put other teams under pressure and it works out like this then it’s perfect,” he said. 

"Being in the yellow jersey is no problem. It's an honour and a privilege to have yellow. Over the next few weeks I'm gonna help Tadej try to win, he's shown he's the best win the world over the last couple of years in all disciplines and we're gonna fight for every second."

The stage win is the first in the Tour for Adam Yates, who wore the yellow jersey for four days in 2020. Meanwhile the wait for yellow goes on for Simon, who won two stages in 2019 but is yet to ever don the famous maillot jaune.

“I’m pretty pleased for him [Adam] of course,” Simon told reporters at the finish. “I have a fantastic relationship with my brother. I’m really happy for him but I’ll stick it to him in the coming days.”

It was a day billed as the hardest opening Tour stage in recent memory and so it proved. The one-day specialists and Classics men of the peloton crumbled under the onslaught of the GC teams to leave the overall favourites the only riders in contention for the stage honours.

A calm opening 130km saw a break containing five riders - Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X), Simon Guglielmi (Arkéa-Samsic), Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto Dstny), Valentin Ferron (TotalEnergies) – get up the road, but it was never allowed more than 90 second lead as the Jumbo-Visma squad plus reliable Soudal-QuickStep domestique Tim Declerq kept the peloton under control.

With 50km to go the break was caught and the bunch shaped up for a furious finale. Three climbs in quick succession, culminating in the searing steep ramp of the Pike bidea that topped out with 9km to go, thinned out the peloton to the leave only the very best GC riders in the field. 

Pre-stage favourites Mathieu van der Poel, Julian Alaphilippe and Tom Pidcock could only watch on as a select group of 14 rode away from the front of the race. 

The Yates twins had led that selection over the final climb and dangled perilously in front of the chasing group on the run in to Bilbao, their 15 second lead growing slowly into the uphill finish despite a concerted chase from the handful of remaining riders on Jumbo-Visma.

Adam and Simon will have practised the scenario hundreds of times together, only this time the pair didn’t have to imagine that the hills around Bury were the finish line of the biggest race in the world. This was the real deal. It was Adam who had the legs on the day this time, but Simon’s reward was second in the GC just eight seconds down.

Despite a day relatively low on crashes, at least by the standards of the Tour, Movistar team leader Enric Mas was forced to abandon after crashing inside the final 20km of the stage. Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) came down in the same incident but finished the stage. Nevertheless, injuries to both knees cast doubt on his continued participation in the race. 

TOUR DE FRANCE 2023 STAGE ONE RESULT - BILBAO > BILBAO

1. Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) in 4-22-49

2. Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) +4 seconds

3. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) +12 seconds

4. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)

5. Michael Woods (Israel-PremierTech)

6. Victor Lafay (Cofidis)

7. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe)

8. Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek)

9. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma)

10. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) all same time 

TOUR DE FRANCE 2023 GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE ONE

1. Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) in 4-22-39

2. Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) +8 seconds

3. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) +18 seconds

4. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +22 seconds 

5. Michael Woods (Israel-PremierTech)

6. Victor Lafay (Cofidis)

7. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe)

8. Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek)

9. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma)

10. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) all same time 

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