The Moment Paris-Nice Was Won

Remco Evenepoel attacks on the climb to Peille during the final stage. Matteo Jorgenson follows when everyone else, including the race leader Brandon McNulty, cannot. This was the moment the race was won but it occurred thanks to the accumulation of efforts throughout the week.

Remember the opening stage to Les Mureaux? It wasn’t determinant for the final result in Nice but it did tell us plenty. All week the intermediate sprints were placed at tactical points and the opener at Montainville was atop a sharp climb. Remco Evenepoel surged, Primož Roglič was behind and unable to respond and at the top Matteo Jorgenson clipped past to to take the six second time bonus with Egan Bernal showing in third place. It would have been brave to extrapolate from this sprint to a final result in Nice but with hindsight it foretold almost everything. Evenepoel was making the moves but Jorgenson getting the better of him; Roglič was a touch off the pace and Bernal’s rehab is visible. Add on the sprint for the stage win where in the uphill finish Olav Kooij won ahead of Mads Pedersen and the surprising Laurence Pithie and our Paris-Nice review could stop here because the final 25 minutes of Stage 1 was a microcosm of the week’s storylines.

What else? The next stage to Montargis was a sprint stage, the course included deliberate twists, think three sides of a square to the final rather than a straight line, to catch the wind but Mother Nature didn’t play. Arvid De Kleijn took a big win for himself and the Tudor team although they’d prove discreet for the rest of the week. Laurence Pithie took yellow, tied for time with Pedersen but ahead on countback and a promise for Groupama-FDJ in what was a sore week for their leader David Gaudu, second last year but DNF this time after losses and what he described as a mistake that even un benjamin, a 12 year old, wouldn’t make.

Mother Nature showed up for the team time trial, but fashionably late. The course was cleverly designed with two climbs to sap heavy rouleurs before a high speed run back to Auxerre. If this was a trap it was obvious from just a saccade at the stage profile. Yet several teams fell headlong into it, notably Bora-hansgrohe, 11th on the stage with just three riders left for the return. We’ll get to Roglič’s form in a minute but this was a tactical blunder. Perhaps team mates, riders and managers alike, are still keen to impress him rather than to bark at him to slow down? With hindsight the blunder didn’t cost him the race because he’d lose out further. UAE won the stage in part thanks to a strong team but also going earlier than some of the rivals and they were literally home and dry. Others got caught in a storm that was so sudden and brief that each team seemed to get a different version: hail for one, wind for another, no (tail) wind for others and rain for several. This put Brandon McNulty in the lead but a collective victory for a strong team. Jayco were the surprise in second, a clue as to Luke Plapp’s form.

Mont Brouilly was a mountain stage of sorts and the lesson of the day was expected duopoly of Evenepoel and Roglič was busted by opportunists. UAE had the race lead but couldn’t control the final 20km, nor could Soudal and Bora. Luke Plapp attacked and was joined by Santiago Buitrago and both impressed, notably Plapp as he was climbing with the best and aggressive with it but Buitrago shows himself as increasingly reliable in the mountains and he’s still 24. Evenepoel was out-sprinted for third but lacked a team mate or two to control the race while Roglič had Vlasov work for him in the chase but was out of sorts in the kind of uphill finish that he’s thrived on, in a race often decided by seconds he was now over a minute down. Buitrago got the stage, Plapp the yellow. This was Jorgenson’s bad day, relatively speaking, as he lost two seconds to Evenepoel in the finish and six at the time bonus.

Stage 5 went to Sisteron and ended in a bunch sprint, a first. Sisteron sits a strategic crossroads in the Alps and it’s a regular stop in Paris-Nice. Every time had seen a breakaway contest the win but this sprint was no surprise, the relatively gentle course helped, plenty of climbing but no detours via sharp back roads and it was win number two for Kooij, again ahead of Mads Pedersen. Again Kooij was the decisive winner but again Pedersen was missing his Luxembourg lead-out Alex Kirsch.

Just as the previous day’s racing broke a pattern in Paris-Nice, Stage 6 was also ridden to a different rhythm, relentless and what looked like a breakaway stage proved to be a crucial GC day. Here Primož Roglič launched an attack that forced a selection among the GC contenders. But it was Jorgenson who countered and he was joined by McNulty and Skjelmose. At first sight the Visma rider looked to be the loser of the move as Skjelmose won the stage and McNulty took back yellow from Plapp. The clock delivered a more measured verdict once Evenepoel arrived 52 seconds later: Jorgenson had hoisted himself up the GC and was only four seconds from yellow with mountain stage to come and McNulty being inconsistent so far. Jorgenson could see a path to victory from here, a boulevard even.

Again Evenepoel ran out of team mates and lost 52 seconds here in a race he’d finish second by 30 seconds. His reputation hangs on him like a weighty musette, it burdens him in a way that doesn’t trouble other riders. Jorgenson, McNulty and Skjelmose can flee up the road but Evenepoel can’t as he’s marked. Nobody can afford to give him an inch for fear of him taking a mile or more return. If he goes, everyone else has to go with him or else. If someone else goes, everyone else looks to him. So this is why having more team mates would have helped, to tow the group or to launch him in an attack. We knew all of this, it was why Soudal when shopping for Mikel Landa, but watching it happen was to spot Evenepoel’s frustration at being marked.

La Madonne d’Utelle was a late substitution because of snow on the way to the planned finish in Auron. If the good news was stage went ahead, the bad news is that it wasn’t a humdinger, a long hillclimb under sluicing rain where Aleksandr Vlasov got a stage win, a comfort for him and Bora-hansgrohe as he’d been working for Roglič . The stage entrenched the status quo but worth mentioning that João Almeida fell out of the top-10, this was meant to be a leadership opportunity and the week didn’t work out for him. UAE is famously congested and missed opportunities can be costly.

It set everything up for the final stage in Nice with McNulty leading by four seconds over Jorgenson and Evenepoel at 36 seconds, sufficient that if the Belgian got a gap and took the stage he could win the lot. The final stage in the hills behind Nice is a classic but it could do with a shake-up as it’s becoming scripted. The attacks always go on the place on the climb to Peille although this does mean they happen within minutes of the TV coverage starting so any petition to revise the route isn’t going to get much traction. Peeling off his rain gear Evenepoel tried several times and finally got away with Jorgenson and then Vlasov joined them.

Evenepoel said that if he couldn’t shake Jorgenson then he’d settle for the stage win. How to drop the American? His accelerations hadn’t worked, indeed at times past Jorgenson looked more reactive. So he rode tempo up the final climb of Les Vinaigriers, asphyxiating Vlasov but Jorgenson was able to stay the pace and with this they got to share the spoils, the stage win for Evenepoel and the overall for Jorgenson which had him celebrating to camera on the run into Nice.

The Verdict
A satisfying edition of the race, not a thriller because that needed a day in the crosswinds although the riders had their share of grim weather along the way. There was always something happening and the GC stayed close until the end. The race was surely enhanced because it wasn’t a contest between Evenepoel and Roglič, it was the headline bill but the

Jorgenson might not have set out to win Paris-Nice by taking the opening day’s intermediate sprint but he say he wanted to finish in the top-5 and started out as he meant to go on with Stage 1. There’s an idiom in French of “the bird that makes its nest” to describe a patient job, a poetic version of “day by day” and it applies well to Jorgenson here. Rewatch the race and he was slowly building his nest, he kept finding a twig here, some moss there, a few ruffled feathers off another bird and with six days he’d built himself a comfy place near the top of GC and just had to knock McNulty off his perch. Easier said than done when it meant doing this by following Evenepoel and staying with him but that’s why he won.

Evenepoel was fascinating to watch all week, making so many moves but being marked. His gaze was often on Roglič for good reason and if he couldn’t close down every move this is where his team comes in. His colleagues did their best job, Van Wilder especially but this created opportunities for the rest and eventually made the race more exciting. Perhaps Evenepoel could have won the race if things had turned out differently but how? Had he joined Jorgenson in the move to La Colle-sur-Loup he’d have been marked and the move probably brought back. So while he was arguably the strongest rider in the race he kept facing a headwind of tactical options. Paradoxically maybe he needed Roglič to be sharper and so turn the race into the promised duel with the rest of the field left behind.

As Le Monde’s Pierre Carrey writes, what if the winner of Paris-Nice was Jonas Vingegaard? This does rather forget a tough week’s racing in France but we all saw how assured he was in Tirreno-Adriatico. So while rivals Evenepoel and Roglič finish the week with more questions and doubts than they started, even if they know the answers just being asked 36 times by the media is the equivalent of having a mild bruise punched over and over again. Plus to reprise Carrey Jorgenson’s win is also a boost for Vingegaard as the American is a more than a contender for the Visma tour team now. The Tour of the Basque Country next month will see Roglič and Evenepoel test themselves against the Thorax of Thy.

So for all the variations of Evenepoel being beaten he had a solid week: second overall, a stage and both the points and mountains jersey mean he had a better week than Roglič. UAE looked strong but brittle; there was also Jakobsen’s sprint struggles as his lead out train seems stuck in the sidings; Ineos’s best finisher was Bernal in seventh, good for him but four minutes down. Several teams just struggled for any kind of visibility. Here’s the prize list from Paris-Nice and as ever the point is not the amounts given it’s a salaried sport and all that, but it works as a proxy for activity and visibility.

69 thoughts on “The Moment Paris-Nice Was Won”

    • Vingegaard is from from a place called Thy in Denmark. His first club was the Thy Cykle Ring.

      I’m fascinated by his barrel chest, if I drew cartoons it’d be one of the main caricatural points. More seriously I’d love to know what his lung volume and peak expiratory rate is as they must be both huge and a component of his physiological success.

      He’s The Thorax with The More-axe, the man who puts the pullman in pulmonary.

  1. My pot-stirring conspiracy theory: according to Geraint Thomas, Roglič hates Evenepoel. Therefore, knowing that he didn’t have good form, and had lost a lot of time in the TTT, Roglič marks Evenepoel and only Evenepoel, allowing Jorgenson, McNulty and Skjelmose up the road.

  2. Why did Evenepoel not do an all out attack on the Col Des Quatre Chemins?
    Why did he not sit on Jorgensons wheel and jump him instead of pulling with him?
    It just baffles me how weak tactically, he can be.
    This day reminds me of the day he pulled Colbrelli to the line expecting to beat him in a sprint.
    He has a huge engine in him. But he needs someone to work with him on tactics.

      • The guy has one huge quality – a massive motor. But it’s in a shopping-cart chassis and has to be controlled via radio earpiece so he’s got only one mode. Reminds me of my moto daze when they put various displacement classes together…guys would roar past on one-liter machines on the straights only to be caught and passed every lap by better riders on machines with 1/2 the engine size. These daze too much of pro cycling lets riders like these win too many races IMHO, reducing skill and tactics to almost secondary qualities.

    • Plus letting Jorgenson go on the day where he gained most of his time. I keep reading him saying things after races like ‘We won’t make that mistake again’, but the mistakes keep happening.

      It seemed like he settled for a stage win by the time they got to the last climb, which for me is very odd: surely, once you’re at his level, winning the overall is impressive, winning a stage is decidedly ‘meh’.

    • I think because he couldn’t. Jorgenson kept proving to be zippier than him all week. Rather than trying a sprint over the top of the Quatre Chemins, he tried a longer TT effort up the climb but that didn’t work either and if it was enough to drop Vlasov, it wasn’t the toughest moment of the season, for comparison Jorgenson himself was 30 seconds quicker on the Vinaigrier/4 Chemins last year.

    • I slightly wondered if Remco was having disagreements with DS Tom Steels during this race, and that was where the slamming the phone down celebration came from. Anyone know if they normally work well together? Seemed like worse tactics than usual from them. I do think he has a problem in the area of reputation and pride which impacts on his tactical decisions sometimes. As in he’s making calculations as to how he can come out of the situation looking as strong as possible. So on stage 8 he chose to be beaten by Jorgenson who was obviously strong and on the strongest team, rather than risk an all out attack potentially failing and being caught by Vlasov or even the McNulty group and coming away with nothing. Maybe he’s just got work to do, or had a bit of a cold, or was pissed off that his team support was a bit hit and miss etc. Thinking back to his form at the start of Vuelta ’22 and Giro ’24, he still looks physically a bit under done to me, which is probably a good thing. I’m excited to see what he can bring to the Tour anyway, maybe this is the season where it becomes clear that he is a great all-rounder and champion but not a dominant grand tour rider. As a fan, he always adds value to races, even when his plans don’t work out as expected, he brings drama and unpredictability which is why I watch.

      • When I criticize Evenepoel it’s because he could have won this race had he used his head. Lanterne Verte is right, he wants to look strong. But that is not all enough to be the best rider he can be.
        Look at Skjelmoses stage win: there’s a rider who knows by heart that when the other two are ahead in gc, he uses it to his advantage and takes the stage win.
        And that’s racing.

  3. A bit of an odd race I thought with Roglic obviously not ripe and Evenopoel coming unglued in the time trial … it all became a bit second tier. Nevertheless I was happy to see that Plapp is thereabouts (if not there) even nursing a wrist injury and scarcely a team mate left by the final stage.

    • Plapp surprised because if he’s going for the Giro after a peak for the TDU then right now he would be building but instead seemed to be racing hard. He’ll be interesting to watch in the Giro to see how far he can go but it’s a big leap, grand tour leadership (or shared with Dunbar) and long Alpine climbs.

  4. A fabulous race, and a great write-up!

    »This was Jorgenson’s bad day, relatively speaking, as he lost 22 seconds to Evenepoel.«

    Jorgenson was just 2 seconds behind Evenepoel on the finish-line and lost 6 in the intermediate sprint.

  5. Long interview with George Hincapie and Jorgenson on The Move podcast for anyone interested.

    Doesn’t give too much away about training but mentions Visma’s routine is the opposite to Movistar’s where it sounds like firstly they don’t over train their riders (sounds similar to Pog trainer’s methods a few years ago?) and the riders are less self reliant with the staff telling them how and when to train rather than riders doing it for themselves. This isn’t to stoke up arguments about cheating etc again, as I think we raked over that topic yesterday, I was just interested to get the insight and thought others might be too.

    • Sounds about right…Movistar certainly seem to be ‘old-school’ in more ways than one. Thinking of Enric Mas, a rider with a lot of class and talent who if anything seemed to go downhill when he moved from QS to Movistar, or to be precise, he hasn’t improved in the way one might have expected based on his 2018 season (6th in Itzulia, 4th in Suisse, 2nd in Vuelta). Maybe he prefers the home country set up though.

      • Enric Mas was at the same hotel as me in Calpe a couple of weeks ago, all alone. Although he wasn’t the only rider training on his own in the area, it perhaps tallies with comments elsewhere that Movistar are much less structured than others. Astana, Alpecin and a couple of lower level teams were out in larger groups.

    • better diet, better training, beetroot juice, cherry juice, marginal gains. The rest of the peloton are just eating junk food and doing coffee rides 6 days a week.

      • It gets a bit boring when you keep posting that. Pretty much everyone reading this blog is well aware of the history of the sport, the dark side, including the BS that known cheats have used to deflect.

        • It is boring to read people’s opinions who turn a blind eye to what is happening. They really want to believe that the rest of the teams are living in the stone age and don’t know anything about modern training and physiology. It’s not like that someone joins from an obscure low level continental team and improves a lot. These are elite teams, yet anyone who moves to Jumbo almost immediately goes one or two levels up.

          • Its a valid point. Its often cited that young riders are able to win right from the off nowadays, and can generally hit the ground running in a way they never used to, because this level of attention to detail and knowledge on training/nutrition is commonplace amongst juniors now. And yet when someone rocks up to JV and is able to hit levels they never used to, the reason given is because X World Tour team don’t know their ar5e from their elbow, and can’t afford the price of an out of season hotel room at a ski resort.

          • Climber, did you watch ‘The Least Expected Day’? If you did, how can you turn a blind eye to the overwhelming evidence that not all teams operate at the same level of competency and professionalism. That show didn’t even touch on what goes on in the Tour prep, but just the nonsense that went on during the Tour tells you plenty.

      • I find it annoying when implications are made about other teams being ignorant – with training methods from eons ago to explain a team’s current success. The same people so happy to take credit when they’re winning are always so reluctant to take the blame when they’re not. The old “preparation meets opportunity” leaves the opportunity part as some sort of righteous expectation rather than just a “Well, things just happened to go our way.”…which is almost always cited (“Well, things just didn’t go our way”) when things don’t work out with victory.

        • I don’t think other teams are ignorant, but I can definitely believe they’re less competent or lack resources.

          Whichever “marginal gain” you pick – training methods, nutrition, recovery, rider welfare, whatever – it’s one thing to know about them, but it’s another thing to implement them in the most effective way across an entire team of staff and riders…unless you truly believe that each and every team is both aware of, and implements each possible improvement with equal competency, then it leaves open the fact that some teams are better than others at applying some or all of these things…it stands to reason that the teams with the highest budgets give themselves the best chance (but no guarantee) of applying the biggest number of improvements well (as well as being able to sign the most talented riders to begin with), and so it’s no surprise that we tend to see the teams with the highest budgets winning the most races…

          That doesn’t discount anything nefarious of course – one of those well-implemented improvements could well be an enhanced doping program, as we’ve seen in this sport before.
          But I can’t believe anybody would watch The Least Expected Day and conclude that Movistar are filled to the brim with competent management !

      • Ok, please explain then he curious case of Jan Tratnik. A journeyman cyclist who at the tender age of 34 has become a force in the classics and was climbing with the best at Algarve finishing third overall. Watch him destroy the cobbled classics in a couple of weeks.
        And as for Jorgenson, this is a quote from an article last year:
        Earlier this season he explained on social media that his transformation from contender to winner was in part due to his extra dedication, and personal investment, to physical and mental development. He took part in a solo training campaign, in addition to the team’s camps, and used his own money for a nutritionist, among other things.
        “I hired a nutritionist and have weighed and logged every gram of food I’ve eaten since December to make sure I’m always at race weight and adequately fuelled. It’s all paid off,” he wrote.
        Now he wants me to believe that after having joined Jumbo, the diet there and training is so much better that he made the jump to a whole another level within 3 months due to better training and diet. So the nutritionist from last year had no clue after all?

        • There is a lot of money at stake. Cheating and corruption exists everywhere. The enforcement bodies are under resourced. There are many vested interests who don’t want bad news in public. It’s a fact that criminals are usually one step ahead of the law. What can we do? Penalise teams for being

          Re Tratnik, I would be very surprised if his Omloop win wasn’t an outlier. He had a lot of help from Politt, one of the biggest engines in the Peloton with a large draught. Also are you aware of his history of illness and injury?

          Re Jorgenson if he was never recovering properly at Movistar due to overtraining then obviously that will have a major impact.

        • “Journeyman” is a harsh description…Tratnik is a rider who’s won a stage of the Giro, plus finished 2nd on Monte Zoncolan, beaten riders like Pogacar & Mohoric to national titles, and finished in or around the top ten in MSR, Flanders, Amstel, World Champs…all before joining Visma…he’s not without pedigree.

          He’s certainly had a very strong start to the season – undoubtedly his best ever – and that could well indicate some wrongdoing, so it’s not unfair to be suspicious.
          But to hold a mirror up to your own argument, why was his best result in 2023 – his first year at Visma – a remarkably unremarkable 9th place at Coppa Bernochi? And his best world tour result 25th place, almost 4 minutes down, at LBL?

          • Re your last paragraph, it’s because he was hired to be a strong domestique which he excels at. The Omloop result was most likely unplanned, looking at the team roster he was probably 5th option.

        • Climber, this is a race review rather than the trial of certain riders, now it’s Tratnik only trial as well? I might be reading you wrong but you come across as trying to provoke, nobody but you has said Movistar is “stone age” and similarly if you think Tratnik has come out of nowhere since joining Jumbo you weren’t watching the Giro or Olympics. This polarising technique works for memes and populist politicians but doesn’t illuminate much.

          From experience trial by blog comments never gets us far, apart from a bar brawl between readers and me paying for the bandwidth.

          • I am not provoking, I am asking valid questions how some riders make drastic improvements and I am not accepting answers like better training and nutrition. I did not say Movistar is stone age but others here belittle them (and other teams) that they know nothing about modern training regimens. It’s only fair to question a team that dominates in such fashion on all kind of races and terrains given the history of the sport. The different trajectories of Jorgenson and Roglic are also interesting. I am sorry that I started a discussion. You may as well close the forum if you don’t like readers engaging and exchanging opinion. End of discussion from my end,

    • Oh god this is a nightmare. Apologies to everyone here for restarting the conversation I thought everyone had got out of their systems yesterday… I have no idea why I’d think that when’s it’s the eternal cycling discussion that will drift on and on. I’m a buffoon clearly.

      Don’t really know what to say, can only agree with Lanterne_Verte, KevinK and others who highlight that everyone here knows the history of the sport, knows how and when to be suspicious and doesn’t need it explained, reexplained and rereexplained for good measure… there are no surprises, revelations, shocks left for us – we are the fans who remain… and are just happy to watch the sport we love with the shadow that forever hangs over it, then will shrug our collective shoulders if/when people are busted and say ‘that’s a shame’ before swiftly moving on with our lives to keep watching the sport in the hope that it’s always getting incrementally better in regards to doping and enjoying the excitement it gives from time to time. I mean… it’s only cycling…

      As for teams being patronising, arrogant in their training methods or fans being fooled into thinking teams they’ve found the holy grail.. I mean yes and no? There is always a budgetary disparity between teams so an inevitability hierarchy but also training methods do change and develop over time, whether some are fashionable misnomers or game changing discoveries – it is true that riders do not train like they did in the 50s so things have moved on and those changes general filter down through the peloton gradually so it seems pretty inevitable that at times some teams are a step ahead of others as results would suggest?

      • “.. we are the fans who remain… and are just happy to watch the sport we love with the shadow that forever hangs over it, then will shrug our collective shoulders if/when people are busted and say ‘that’s a shame’ before swiftly moving on …”
        Which explains why this stuff continues? Real (well, at least at the start) anti-doping measures came in because rich sponsors saw their advertising vehicle losing its status. Is the UCI keeping up? I’d say they’re off-the-back but maybe not yet dropped except in the motorized cheating peloton where they made a 1/2 assed effort, caught a little fish and called it good.
        Not claiming any of this is easy or simple, just that more (can and) should be done on both fronts.
        Now – the REAL racing season begins on Saturday…finally 🙂

        • “Now – the REAL racing season begins on Saturday…finally”

          I used to disagree with this and felt excited with Omloop starting but I’m starting to come around to this point of view Larry. Been a bit underwhelmed by the early season classics and stage races so far. Bring on MSR.

      • I blame you as well, oldDAVE.

        Heh heh.

        FWIW, I enjoyed the discussion, and I think all sides made good points (and it didn’t descend into a slanging match).

        It’s a cycling forum – people are always going to discuss doping.

  6. I’d like to celebrate Bernal’s returning form here. How great to see him at the more meaningful end of a race over these last weeks.

    It’s also got me pondering on a potential statistic we could see at the Tour this year. Big ifs, but should Bernal and Froome (see, a BIG if) start at the Tour this year, and all other potential GC starters make it there (is Hindley set to ride?), we could see the winner of every edition of every grand tour since the 2017 tour on the start line. At least that’s my calculation. Only Dumoulin’s 2017 Giro stops the run going back to the 2016 Tour. Is this the longest run of this kind? The greatest accumulation of Grand Tour winners starting a race?

    Or perhaps recency bias has clouded my judgment and Grand Tours past have seen multitudes of champions facing off more often than I think they have.

    • +1 re Bernal. Especially as he looked to have blown on stage 8 but held it together for a solid top 10. Tenacious spirit.

      As to your stats musing I fear that Froome will indeed spoil the party by not being selected. His non-selection will probably bring more sponsor visibility than if he was in the race. Strange ending to a strange career.

    • Bernal had a mechanical on the last stage apparently so he might have been able to do a bit better but he should be satisfied by the week’s racing, it’s a good news story for Ineos (as opposed to where is Carlos Rodriguez).

      It’d be a great stat for all those riders together… as you say a really big if for Froome.

      • Desperate for someone to check this stat! Thank you for this comment JV. One of the best I’ve ever seen on INRNG!

        What TDF had the most past winners participate.
        What TDF had the most grand tour winners participate.
        What Grabd Tour had the most past winner of grand tours participate.

        Desperate to know!

        • I didn’t know the answer either and was also interested, so I asked ChatGPT, and here’s what it said:

          What Tour de France had the most past winners participate?
          The 2012 Tour de France holds the record for having the most past winners participate in a single edition of the race. In that year, a total of seven past winners took part: Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck, Carlos Sastre, Oscar Pereiro, and Denis Menchov.
          – all of these guys definitely won grand tours, but Menchov didn’t ever win the TdF, so it’s actually 6.

          What Tour de France had the most past grand tour winners participate?
          The 2011 Tour de France holds the record for the most past Grand Tour winners participating in a single edition of the race. In that year, there were a total of ten past Grand Tour winners: Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, Denis Menchov, Carlos Sastre, Oscar Pereiro, Ivan Basso, Alejandro Valverde, Samuel Sánchez, and Damiano Cunego.
          – Of the above, Sanchez was never a GT winner, so maybe 9?

          What grand tour had the most past grand tour winners participate
          The 2009 Vuelta a España holds the record for the most past Grand Tour winners participating in a single edition of a Grand Tour. In that year’s Vuelta, there were a total of nine past Grand Tour winners competing: Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, Denis Menchov, Carlos Sastre, Cadel Evans, Damiano Cunego, Oscar Pereiro, Stefano Garzelli, and Carlos Sastre.
          – I believe that all of the above are GT winners.

          I strongly suspect that ChatGPT has a recency bias though, as it’s more likely to find information on the web on races that took place during the web era. But this might be a good starting point… Would be happy to be wrong if there’s someone more knowledgeable about the long history of our sport.

          • Love this answer/attempt at an answer – thank you – also fun to see someone using some modern tech on a blog where you’re more likely to hear the ‘don’t change anything!’ mentality more often than not! (Even though I find AI terrifying ^__^)

            Thanks again!

          • Ah, brilliant. This is such a useful starting point. As you point out, ChatGPT has made a handful of errors. It’s also included riders who became Grand Tour winners but were not at the time of the race in question. E.g. Cadel Evans in the 2009 and 2011 Tours (though of course by the end of the 2011 Tour he was a Grand Tour winner!)

            The enticing thing about this year’s proposed starting list are the Grand Tour wins already in their collective palmares and the succession of Grand Tours they represent.

          • Pretty sure Lance wasn’t in the 2012 Tour, so I guess that is another error.

            You may want to add “explain how you reach the conclusion step by step” in the prompt. This usually leads to more accurate answers.

          • I asked GPT3.5 the same question and it stated that the 1983 version had most past winners participating, and that number is 10.

            I then followed up with who are the 10 past winners participating and it gave me the following fairly amusing answer:

            The ten past winners who participated in the 1983 Tour de France were:

            1. Bernard Hinault (winner in 1978, 1979, 1981, and 1982)
            2. Joop Zoetemelk (winner in 1980)
            3. Lucien Van Impe (winner in 1976)
            4. Felice Gimondi (winner in 1965)
            5. Eddy Merckx (winner in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, and 1974)
            6. Luis Ocaña (winner in 1973)
            7. Jan Janssen (winner in 1968)
            8. Roger Pingeon (winner in 1967)
            9. Jacques Anquetil (winner in 1957, 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1964)
            10. Federico Bahamontes (winner in 1959)

            Not sure about Eddie, but Anquetil was definitely not there in 83. I guess this is classic GPT hallucinating.

    • It looks like a tough stat to hunt down quickly!
      It is interesting that the last 18 grand tour wins (back to 2018) have been spread across 12 different riders. I thought it may have been shared less than that, which highlights just how often new riders rise to the top.
      If they do all indeed race Le Tour, this is their Grand Tour wins (24 between them!)
      Froome – 7, Roglic – 4, Bernal – 2. Pogačar – 2, Vingegaard – 2,
      1 = Thomas, Yates S, Carapaz, Geoghegan Hart, Hindley, Evenepoel, Kuss

      • We also have the potential, at least, to see Quintana there. But I understand the Tour has no chance of being on his schedule. Never say never, I suppose.

  7. To paraphrase another poster, it’s going to be a bit boring if we try VLAB in the comments every time they win a race. Couldn’t win a major classic last year but that doesn’t prove anything right? Do Pogacar and Mathieu dope too?

      • Ok anonymous. You tell me what they were saying. Because all I see is people griping about how “donkeys” go to Visma and now are race cars. They were right with Lance so they must be right about this. Just like they were right about motors.

    • I thought one of the arguments was STAGE races rather than one-day events? The recuperative qualities of various doping regimes are pretty well documented, which obviously are more important in multi-day events vs single-day races?
      In any case IMHO it’s WAY, WAY, WAY too early (since MSR isn’t ’till Saturday) to start making innuendos based on Rider X going better on Visma while Rider Y who has changed teams, is not.

  8. Ah, brilliant. This is such a useful starting point. As you point out, ChatGPT has made a handful of errors. It’s also understandably included riders who became Grand Tour winners but we’re not at the time of the race in question. E.g. Cadel Evans.

    The enticing thing about this year’s proposed starting list is the Grand Tour wins already in their collective palmares.

  9. Lovely interview with Jorgenson on the cyclingpodcast – actually even better than TheMove one.
    Comes across as a very nice and thoughtful guy, great question from Friebe on noticing him look over to see if McNulty was okay on the podium.

  10. My 2 cents on suspicions of V-LAB, at least regarding Jorgenson: Anyone who has closely watched cycling over the past few years saw that he was a rider making big strides, all while on a team that has been a hot mess for years. Also, he (perhaps unwisely) posted all of the extra measures he took to try to improve his results outside of the team’s support. So when he arrived at V-LAB, he quite literally only needed marginal gains to start turning almosts to wins and podiums. With strong teammates and intelligent tactics, he was already prepared to take the next step. So that he would take the next (pretty small, really) step in his results shouldn’t raise eyebrows at all if you’ve been paying attention.

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