It will be the second time the Tour de France starts in the Basque Country. In 1992, Miguel Indurain won the prologue in San Sebastián.
Stage 1 will be a race of 182 kilometres with five classified ascents, three of which inside the last 45 kilometres. The steep Côte de Pike – 2 kilometres at 10% – marks the finale before a flying descent into Bilbao. After the flamme rouge the road kicks up to 4.6% in the last kilometre.
The 2nd stage is also promising for fast descenders. The 208.9 kilometres route takes in five classified climbs. After the Jaizkibel – 8.1 kilometres at 5.3% – the riders plunge down to the line in San Sebastián.
Stage 3 kicks into gear in Amorebieta to travel to the French part of the Basque country. A bunch sprint in the streets of Bayonne is the most likely outcome.
The racing circuit of Nogaro is expected to see the second bunch sprint in a row at the end of stage 4, while the Tour enters the Pyrenees as early as the fifth day of action. Stage 5 sets off from Pau to finish in Laruns, where Tadej Pogacar won a five-up sprint in 2020, before Le Cambasque in the mountains above Cauterets will be the end station of stage 6 after a race featuring the Col du Tourmalet. Bordeaux hosts the finish of stage 7, which is yet another chance for the sprinters.
The 8th stage runs from Libourne to a false flat finish in Limoges before stage 9 heads to the Puy de Dôme department. In fact, the finish will be situated on the volcano with the same name in the Massif Central for the first time since 1988. The final 5 kilometres go up at over 11%.
More volcanos are on the menu after the first rest day, as stage 10 sets off from amusement park Vulcania in Saint-Ours-les-Roches and travels through the Auvergne region to finish in Issoire. Stage 11 will see a first ever Tour de France stage finish in Moulins, where Sam Bennett outsprinted Caleb Ewan and Fabio Jakobsen in Paris-Nice 2019. Stage 12 travels on hilly terrain to the Beaujolais vineyards for a finish in Belleville.
What to expect on Bastille Day then? On Friday 14 July the Grand Colombier is going to be the focal point of the 13th stage of La Grande Boucle. Three editions ago Tadej Pogacar took the spoils on the 17.4 kilometres climb at 7.1% in the Jura Mountains, besting Primoz Roglic in a two-up sprint, while the other GC contenders finished close behind.
Morzine returns as the end station of stage 14. In 2022 it was a starting venue, while Ion Izagirre took the win in the ski resort in 2016 after a daring and rain soaked descent from the Joux Plane. The recipe is the same this time – a Joux Plane descent in the finale – but let’s hope for better conditions.
The day before that Ion Izagirre win in 2016 the Tour finished in Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc. Romain Bardet soloed to victory that day. The ski resort is the end station of stage 15 on the 2023 Tour. The riders face a finish climb of 9.8 kilometres at 8% with the first part the brutal Côte des Amerands.
The final week opens with an ITT for climbers. Stage 16 takes in the Côte de Domancy – 2.5 kilometres at 9.4% – before the route continues to climb at more gentle gradients in the last 3 kilometres.
The 17th stage tackles the Col de la Loze – 28.1 kilometres at 6% – in the finale, but not, like in 2020, as the finish climb. That will be a steep ramp at the nearby altiport of Courchevel.
Stage 18 and stage 19 are going to finish in the Bourgogne region before the penultimate – and possibly decisive – stage finish will take place in the Vosges Mountains. The Col du Platzerwassel – 7.1 kilometres at 8.3% – serves as the last climb of Le Tour before ski resort Le Markstein is the end station of stage 20.
As always, the Tour de France finishes on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Stage 21 starts at France’s national velodrome in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.
Tour de France 2023: route, profiles, more
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