The Tour of Flanders is the alpha and omega of Flemish the cycling classics. Proud villages of the Ronde fill up, neighborhoods around the famous climbs overflow, viptents fill up. The kegs of Kwaremont are unstoppable. All of Flanders will stand still for a day on Sunday, April 2, 2023. Because then it is time for the Tour of Flanders 2023!
Preview Tour of Flanders 2023
Besides the extensive preview Ronde van Vlaanderen 2023 from our big brother Voorjaarsklassiekers.be (please find here the voorbeschouwing Ronde van Vlaanderen 2023), we also present an overview of the favorites and dark horses. Who are the favorites Tour of Flanders 2023? Want to read more previews? Please navigate here to the preview Paris Roubaix 2023!
Contenders & Favorites Tour of Flanders 2023
While the Belgians (rightly?) put forward their Wout van Aert as the man to beat, we consider Mathieu van der Poel the favorite for the 2023 Tour of Flanders. Even Flemish analyst Michel Wuyts – who normally does not hide his enthusiasm for Van Aert – indicated in Het Laatste Nieuws’s podcast Wuyts & Vlaeminck that in his eyes Van der Poel has a 70% chance of winning Sunday. But one thing is for sure, the Tour of Flanders is tailor-made for MVDP. Like no other he thrives on the many obstacles that succeed one another in a short time, his recuperation ability is unparalleled. With a fourth, first, second and first place finish respectively, the defending champion has the best credentials. Who will beat Mathieu van der Poel in the Tour of Flanders 2023? Who is going to win the Ronde van Vlaanderen 2023?
Then you end up with two men. Starting with Wout van Aert. “Ik moet just niks” he said after the E3 Saxo Classic. Referring to the many criticisms he got and still gets in Flanders. Grateful for their new cycling god? No, critical to the bone. Be it cycling analysts Dirk de Wolf or José de Cauwer, or former pro riders Johan Museeuw and Tom Boonen. The pressure for Wout van Aert in his homeland is unprecedented. All pointed to his age and the gaps on his palmares. Winning mountain stages, time trials and sprints in the Tour de France? Allee, das mooi. But it’s about the Monuments or the rainbow jersey. This year everything has to make way for either the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix. After his resounding victory in the E3, where he beat both Matje and Pogi, his confidence and morale are high again. Add to that the supremacy in Ghent-Wevelgem and you can say that Wout is ready for the Ronde.
Say Van der Poel and Van Aert this cycling spring – you automatically say Tadej Pogačar! The Slovenian is the embodiment of the opulence we cycling fans know anno 2023. A Tour de France winner competing for prizes in the Tour of Flanders. As if it were the most normal thing in the world. One thing is clear. Just wait unto the second of third passage on the mighty Oude Kwaremont. Tadej Pogačar is definitely going to attack over there!
Behind these three bikes, we assign Matej Mohoric the most chances. Where Kasper Asgreen surprised friend and foe in 2021 by knocking off Van der Poel at the finish line on the Minderbroedersstraat – who won’t be surprised if Mohoric does a Devolderke? Back to 2009. Where Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen or Filippo Pozzato were the favorites, Stijn Devolder ran with it. The Bahrain-Victorius hard rider is having an excellent spring and is also made for the Flemish cobblestones. He has made Paris-Roubaix his absolute goal, but watch out. Do not forget the strong Slovenian.
Mads Pedersen gets the final star from us. The 2019 Harrogate world champion finished very handsomely second in the 2018 Tour of Flanders edition won by Niki Terpstra, knows how to pick up speed over the cobblestones and is quick on the arrivee. But the big question for both Mohoric and also Pedersen is going to be: how do we beat The Big Three?
Then the dark horses. We start with the Groupama-FDJ classmates Stefan Küng and Valentin Madouas. Like Mohoric, Küng says that Paris-Roubaix is even better for him, so he will want to improve on his second place from last year. But don’t forget, the Swiss rider finished fifth here last year and also showed in the E3 Saxo Classic that he is in good shape again with a sixth place. Should you play him in the Scorito pool, include him in your queue in the coming Sundays. Should you write him down only once in your prognostication, save him for Roubaix. Someone you can then include on Sunday is his teammate Madaous. Finished eighth in the same E3 last Friday and made his breakthrough in the cobbles last year. Seventh in the E3, 11th in Waregem and third in the Ronde. Can Madoaus repeat this feat, if not do better?
The team of Jumbo-Visma is so strong, that most at other teams were all leaders. And each of them would deserve a strong one. Dylan van Baarle. Christophe Laporte. Tiesj Benoot. So are they all dark horses? At least Van Baarle and Laporte are. The lieutenants, in the pecking order behind leader Van Aert, will want to break open the race early. All in service of course. But you never know how it will turn out. Helper Benoot, who was strong on Wednesday in Dwars door Vlaanderen, could also end up short if things go unusually well. The motto is Winning Together. You never know!
While Soudal-Quick Step are hoping for a resurrection of Julian Alaphilippe, INEOS Grenadiers are counting on Tom Pidcock. The big questions: is Juju strong enough? To what extent is Pidcock really back to 100% match fitness? Behind Pidcock, Filippo Ganna and Ben Turner are also men to reckon with at INEOS.
Favorites Ronde van Vlaanderen 2023 according to Wieler-Koers.nl:
***** Mathieu van der Poel
**** Wout van Aert
*** Tadej Pogačar
** Mads Pedersen
* Matej Mohoric
Dark horses: Stefan Küng, Valentin Madoaus, Dylan van Baarle, Tom Pidcock, Julian Alaphilippe