Bahrain Victorious announced its selection of eight riders for the 2023 Tour de France overnight. On the list is 29-year-old Jack Haig… the Australian who was the team’s designated leader in 2021 and 2022. This year, he will be part of the support cast for Mikel Landa.
TDF Team Selection: Bahrain Victorious (Photos: Stefano Sirotti)
“We are coming into this Tour de France with big ambitions, and I believe we have an excellent team to have opportunities across all the stages.” Gorazd Štangelj, the ‘lead sports director’ for Bahrain Victorious, expresses his confidence that the team can challenge for stage wins and a good GC result in the 110th Tour de France (1-23 July 2023).
“We’ve got two highly motivated Basque riders who have the opportunity of racing at a Grand Départ on home roads and a route that suits their style of racing.”
Mikel Landa is the designated leader, while Pello Bilbao will also be a protected rider in the eight-man line-up for #TDF2023.
Bahrain Victorious’ Tour de France selection is as follows (in alphabetical order):
- Nikias Arndt (GER)
- Phil Bauhaus (GER)
- Pello Bilbao (ESP)
- Jack Haig (AUS)
- Mikel Landa (ESP)
- Matej Mohorič (SLO)
- Wout Poels (NED)
- Fred Wright (GBR)
The selection includes the new British road race champion Fred Wright, multiple TDF stage winner Matej Mohorič, and Jack Haig who was the team’s leader for the recent Giro d’Italia.
Haig didn’t have the May he had hoped for, finishing 19th on GC in the Giro before backing up shortly afterwards to race the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month (where he finished fifth).
The memory of Gino Mäder, who died after crashing in the Tour de Suisse on 16 June, will be front of mind for every rider.
“This year the team and all of us have been impacted by the loss of our friend and team-mate, Gino,” said Štangelj. “We need to look at this for extra motivation and to be at our best every day and try and race for him and honour him.”
Bilbao and Arndt are the two riders in the Tour team who also raced the Tour de Suisse, but the team withdrew from this race after completing the neutralised sixth stage ridden in honour of Mäder.
Haig is the only rider in the TDF selection who also contested the Giro in 2023.
Bahrain Victorious’ sprinter, Jonathan Milan, won the points jersey at the Giro highlighting the versatility of a team that has several aces to play this July.
“Landa will be our leader, and Pello will co-lead,” Štangelj explained in the official selection announcement. “We then have Matej and Fred, who can look for their opportunities through breakaways, while Phil will have his chances as there are many stages for the sprinters… and he will have a highly experienced lead-out man in Nikias.
“We then are lucky to have fantastic support in the high mountains with Jack and Wout, and both have the ability to fight for a stage win. Overall, we have a strong line-up, and every rider can take advantage of an opportunity across the stages.”
Landa hasn’t contested the Tour de France since 2020 when he equalled his previous best performance, finishing fourth overall. At 33 he is one of the most experienced Grand Tour riders of this generation, starting 18 in total and finishing 15 since the Vuelta a España of 2012 which was his debut in a three-week race.
The Basque climber has twice finished third in the Giro (2015 and 2022) and there are big hopes for him at the Tour de France of 2023.
“The depart in the Basque Country is going to be really exciting,” says Landa in the team announcement. “I’ve already been feeling the passion and excitement of the fans. They are supporting me already. I think it’s going to be a big celebration of cycling…
“Looking at my ambitions, I’d love to finish close to the podium in the GC and also look to win a stage, which is also a dream.”
Landa has previously won stages in the Giro and Vuelta but his best result in a stage of the Tour to date is third place (stage 15 to Foix in 2019, when he was beaten by Simon Yates and Thibaut Pinot).
“This year the team and all of us have been impacted by the loss of our friend and team-mate, Gino,” concluded Landa. “We need to look at this for extra motivation and to be at our best every day and try and race for him and honour him.”
– By Rob Arnold
RIDE Media publishes the Official Tour de France Guide (Australian edition).