Adam Yates dropped his twin brother Simon in the final kilometer to power to victory in a thrilling conclusion to Stage 1 of the 2023 Tour de France.
The opening-stage drama lived up to expectations as the British pair (both 30) broke clear of the field with 9 km to go, working in tandem to forge a gap from an ominous chasing group containing yellow jersey favorites Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard.
The win was all the more remarkable for the fact that Adam Yates had served as a launchpad for UAE Emirates teammate Pogačar’s attack just moments before his own, towing the Slovenian and his Danish rival Vingegaard up the final climb of Pike Bidea 10 km from the line.
Despite riding for different teams (Simon represents Jayco-AlUla), the twin brothers collaborated in explosive fashion to burst clear of a lead group containing many of the strongest riders in this year’s Tour, but seemingly hindered by indecision as they summited the final climb.
Adam Yates will now wear the yellow jersey for Stage 2, a 209 km ride from Vitoria Gasteiz to San Sebastián.
Meanwhile, Pogačar won the sprint for 3rd to claim the remaining bonus seconds, a menacing statement to his rivals regarding any lingering fitness concerns around the wrist injury that ruled him out during the spring.
“I didn’t know if I should work with him. I asked and they said, ‘Go for it’.”
Though brother Simon is a two-time Tour de France stage winner, the win was the first for Adam Yates at Le Tour.
“It’s just amazing – I am super happy,” he told ITV4 at the finish line. “My brother came across to me. I didn’t know if I should work with him. I asked and [the team] said ‘go for it’.
“I knew Simon was going good, I speak to him every day, we are really close – just sharing this experience with him is really nice.
“I just wish he would’ve pulled a bit easier, because he almost dropped me at one moment!”
Simon Yates, meanwhile, was seemingly hampered by cramp in the final sprint to the line.
“There was a bit of cat and mouse over the top, and Adam rolled to the front,” said Simon.
“He gave [Tadej] Pogačar the nod, sort of, ‘Can I go? What’s the situation?’ – and it was ‘Yeah, sure’, so he’s gone, and I’ve gone across to him.
“At first when he saw me coming across, I think he was put in a difficult situation. He asked on the radio, ‘Should I wait or roll through?’
At first, he wasn’t pulling, but I kind of knew that [would be the case] anyway. I knew it was going to be tricky yet at the same time I had to take the opportunity.
“Normally on a finish like that I wouldn’t beat Pogačar or Vingegaard in a real fast sprint – so to get away with Adam was maybe a chance.
“We’re pretty close normally, but I had some cramps in the final. It was a humid day so, unfortunately, he got the better of me, but I’m sure there are more chances coming.”
The pair are the first brothers to take to the top two steps of a Tour de France podium since Luxembourg’s Andy and Frank Schleck back in 2011.
Disaster Strikes for Mas and Carapaz
For the rest of the peloton, the main drama came in calamitous crashes for Spain’s Enric Mas (Movistar) and Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) on the descent of the Cote de Vivero.
Both were the main GC hopes for their respective teams and were considered outside contenders for a podium finish in Paris.
However, Mas was forced to retire with an apparent shoulder injury, while Carapaz limped home with bloodied legs 15 minutes after the leaders, effectively ending his GC challenge.
Tour de France 2023: Stage 1 Results
1. Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates/GB): 4 Hours, 22 Minutes, 49 Seconds
2. Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla/GB): + 4 secs
3. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates/SLO): + 12 secs
4. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ/FRA): Same time
5. Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech/CAN)
6. Victor Lafay (Cofidis/FRA)
7. Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe/AUS)
8. Mattias Skjlemose (Lidl-Trek/DEN)
9. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma/DEN)
10. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ/FRA)