Stage 18 of the 2023 Tour de France is officially classified as “hilly,” but it’s actually a relatively flat course that heads northwest from the Alps, traversing the gap between Lyon and Geneva to the finish in Bourg en Brasse.
A fast and technical finish awaits, with roundabouts and a hairpin bend before a right turn into the final stretch where the stage will be won and lost.
Jasper Philipsen is the heavy favorite to win his fifth stage of this Tour after taking an outright victory in the sprints so far. At this point in the race his rivals are few and far between: Mark Cavendish went down with a broken collarbone, Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan dropped out due to exhaustion, while Wout van Aert went home yesterday to be with his wife at the birth of their second child. .
There are still a few opponents Philipsen may need to overcome: Dylan Groenewegen hasn’t made much of an impact this race, but he has Tour stage wins under his belt, while former world champion Mads Pedersen has already won once here on stage eight.
There’s also the chance that a breakout will escape down the road and stay away to claim victory among themselves. Such is Philipsen’s dominance that not many teams want to see a mass sprint finish, so his Alpecin-Deceuninck teammates will have to work hard at the front of the pack to catch up on the breakaway.
If they pull it off, Philipsen can rely on the great Mathieu van der Poel to drive his starting train and present it at the finish to seal the deal.
For the man in the yellow jersey, Jonas Vingegaard, it’s a day to recover tired legs and stay out of trouble.
Profile and route map of stage 18
The stage is scheduled to start at 12:00pm BST and is expected to end around 4:30pm.
Jasper Philipsen looks as close to unbeatable as a sprinter in a race like the Tour de France. This is the stage for him to lose.