There was scarcely a dull moment. From January to October, from the Tour Down Under to the Tour of Guangxi, it was another breathless road season, with just about every race throwing up drama and discussion.
Even though there are some dominant forces in the men’s and women’s pelotons – riders like Demi Vollering, Remco Evenepoel, Tadej Pogačar and Lotte Kopecky – there were still upsets and surprises aplenty across the campaign.
Choosing the indelible moments of any season is an entirely subjective affair, but in 2023, we were spoiled for choice, from Mathieu van der Poel’s remarkable World Championships win to Annemiek van Vleuten’s fight to reclaim the top step in her final season with a gutsy perfomance in La Vuelta Feminina’s finale on the Lagos de Covadonga .
Now that the 2023 pro road season has reached its conclusion, Cyclingnews takes a look back over some of the year’s most dramatic moments.
Vollering’s dominance from Ardennes to Tour de France
Demi Vollering’s entire season could be considered dramatic in its magnitude of success. Starting with the horse-dodging, bike-throwing, photo-finish sprint against teammate Lotte Kopecky that netted her the Strade Bianche win to her clean sweep at the Ardennes Classics and the overall victory at the Tour de France, it has been her best season to date.
Her attack over the Cauberg that led to a solo victory at Amstel Gold Race set the tone for her season at the Ardennes Classics. If that wasn’t entertaining enough, her performance on the Mur de Huy, where she led the climb from bottom to top to secure the victory at Flèche Wallonne, was remarkable. Those two victories set the scene for a nail-biting finale at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where she out-sprinted Elisa Longo Borghini to take the win and complete the Ardennes triple.
Her season continued with ample success during the spring and early-summer stage races, which all seemed to point to an upward trajectory toward the Tour de France Femmes.
At the eight-day race, Vollering remained consistent through the opening six stages while the yellow jersey rested on the shoulders of her teammate Kopecky. A costly 20-second time penalty for drafting on stage 5 briefly threatened her chances of success.
However, it was apparent by her dominant and winning performance on the slopes of the Col du Tourmalet…