Jours de Dunkerque & Grand Prix des Hauts de France 2023 Favourites

Jours de Dunkerque & Grand Prix des Hauts de France 2023 Favourites
Cyclists descending a good ol' switchback

Country: France
Stages: 6
Level: Pro
Time Trials: 1

The Grand Prix des Hauts-de-France used to be a French cycling race contested on Ascension Thursday between Prouvy and Douchy-les-Mines , in the Nord department of France. It combined recently with the Four Days of Dunkirk, also held in the Nord department of France and shifted the calendar date away from Ascension Thursday.

Which is probably a good thing as the word ascension  comes from the Latin noun ascensio (“action of ascending”) which itself comes from the verb ascendere (from ad-scendere ), which means “to mount, to climb”. And there isn't a whole heck of a lot of mountain climbing in these stages 🙃.

Despite the name of the race, since the addition of an individual time trial in 1963, the race has been held over a 5 or 6 day period for most of its history.

Key Players

There's a stacked start list for this race, with names like Arnaud de Lie, Benoît Cosnesfroy, Hugo Hofstetter, and Tim Merlier. It should prove to be an exciting six days of racing.

From the sprinter's angle, Astana is letting Cees Bol have free reign from aiding Cavendish as lead out man and we expect him to pick up a stage and be on the value side with names like Merlier and De Lie taking the short odds.

What is a lead out in cycling? | Pro Cycling Bets
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Strong Teams

Expect the French teams to attempt and be on full display for their fans and sponsors. AG2R Citroën is bringing some key cyclists, like the aforementioned Cosnefroy, but also Naesan and Van Avermaet (he's not retired yet!).

Soudal Quick Step is bringing their A + B squad with names like Merlier and Asgreen. Expect Ethan Vernon from their team to fall within a value pick on certain days. Vernon had a great stage one win of the Tour de Romandie just a few weeks back.

There's a number of smaller teams here given the Pro designation of the race. That means lots of opportunity for value odds for picking riders who might be in the break or undervalued teams by the bookies.

We've got our eyes on Bolton Equities for a while now, along with St Michel - Mavic. A few of their riders should perform strongly along with Uno - X, who, while not having shown much spunk this season, definitely will push for wins if they want to one day eventually reach World Tour as is their goal.


Stage 1

A bunch of uncategorized climbs in here. A break may form over the initial 1km climb of 7%, but what we're really interested in is the uncategorized ridge right before the finish with about 15km to go. Would someone be bold enough to make an attack at that point and have it stick? Maybe.

Stage 2

This stage is mainly intriguing because of the final kicks of 600m @ 9% and then followed by a 2km @ 4.1% with the stage ending right at the top. A great punchy rouleur should steal this stage away.

Almost a Mur de Huy-esque final. Exciting.

Stage 3 (ITT)

When you're looking at a time trial map you're mainly thinking of three things: length, number of hills, and technicality (eg. turns). This is a low to average distanced TT, with not a lot of hills. But boy oh boy does it have a lot of turns. 22 in total. We would not personally want to ride this. We'd fall over.

Pick a rider with great bike handling skills for your bets folks.

Stage 4

We're not entirely sure what's going on here to be perfectly honest. There's not a lot of climbs and it feels like a transition / rest day with a bunch sprint at the finish. Hopefully it's a bit more intriguing than that.

Stage 5

We wish Ben Healy was here. What an awesome stage for the rouleurs. It definitely has a Flemish classic vibe with the easy start and then a bunch of undulating and sometimes rather difficult hills.

None of the gradients are that steep though so it's going to be the slow burn of the repetitions that may tire the riders out before the final kicker that the race ends on.

Stage 6

One for the spectators. A bunch of loops around Dunkerque. We're all for it. General classification should have been figured out by this point and we expect a solid bunch sprint for the finish.