This year’s Tour de France was as Belgian as they get


As another edition of the world’s most prestigious bicycle race, the Tour de France, comes to an end, it's safe to say the Belgians were in the spotlight again, from its departure in Bilbao to its arrival on the Champs-Elysées 22 days later.

Several compatriots reconfirmed Belgium’s good name throughout. Most notable was the Flame from Ham, Jasper Philipsen, sprinting revelation who won four stages as well as the green jersey and came second in the final stage; we’ll get back to that. 

But first, to put the four victories into perspective, the only other rider to win several stages was Slovenian revelation Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates. It is a truly phenomenal feat to win even one Tour de France stage, let alone four. 

At the finish line in Paris on 23 July, Alpecin-Deceuninck's sprint king was outclassed by fellow Belgian Jordi Meeus of Bora-Hansgrohe. “It’s unbelievable I got to win here, in my first Tour de France,” the Belgian said. What’s more, it was his first-ever Grand Tour victory. 

The victory was so close it had to be decided by a photo finish. 

And let’s not forget Jumbo-Visma's Wout van Aert, who was instrumental in helping his team-mate Jonas Vingegaard finish in the yellow jersey for the second year in a row. The 2023 Tour is one that van Aert will surely remember for a long time. Indeed, congratulations are in order not only for his sporting achievements: he left the race a few days before the final stage to be back in Belgium when his wife gave birth to their second child. 

Wout was not the only Belgian moving mountains for Jumbo-Visma. Tiesj Benoot and Nathan Van Hooydonck were also at the forefront of the epic fight for the glory of the yellow jersey.  

We of course congratulate all riders in the Tour, but we also show our appreciation for the other Belgians: Tim Declercq, Dries Devenyns and Yves Lampaert; Jasper Stuyven; Stan Dewulf and Oliver Naesen; Philipsen’s team-mates Quinten Hermans and Jonas Rickaert; Dylan Teuns; Jenthe Biermans. We’re saving the most Belgian team for last. No less than five out of eight riders for Lotto-Dstny were Belgian: these are Victor Campenaerts, Jasper De Buyst, Frederik Frison, Maxim Van Gils and Florian Vermeersch. 

May these and other Belgian riders flourish just as much in the next Tour de France. In the meantime, the Vuelta a España this year will see Remco Evenepoel attempt to win the Red Jersey for the second year in a row.