Mountainous 2023 Tour de France Route Revealed
The route for the 110th Tour de France was revealed to a huge audience at the Palais des Congrès in Paris today. The route looks perfect for the best climbers, with only one 22km uphill time trial as route heads from the Basque region of Spain toward Paris
The 2023 Tour de France is 3,404 km long with 12 new stage towns, 8 Mountain stages and 4 high altitude Mountain finishes. The 110th edition of cycling’s biggest race heads from the the Grand Départ in the Basque Country across all five of France’s mountain ranges to finish in Paris 3 weeks later. The route favours climbers with just one 22km hilly time trial in the Alps from Pasy to Combloux on stage 16.
For the sprinters, there are eight flat stages and for the the breakaway specialists four hilly stages suited to an all-out breakaway, and for the climbers eight mountain stages, four of these include mountain top finishes; in the Pyrenees at Cauterets-Cambasque, on the legendary Puy de Dôme defunct volcano in the Massif Central, on the Grand Colombier in the Jura and at Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc in the Alps.
The 2023 race should see some explosive racing, bunch sprints, breakaways and attacks from the gun.
2022 winner Jonas Vingegaard was not at the Tour de France presentation, currently in Singapore for the ASO Singapore Criterium. Two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar was present and seemed to like the route, looking to target his third title. 2021 Green Jersey winner Mark Cavendish was present looking to set a new record of 35 Tour de France stage victories with his B&B Hotels – KTM team, which cancelled their team presentation the day before the presentation.
The First Week
The first week starts with the Grand Depart in Bilbao in Spain's northern Basque region. It will be only the second time in its history that the world's top cycling race has begun in the Basque Country that straddles France and Spain, after it started in San Sebastian in 1992. Bilbao's opening stage will also be the 25th time the 'Grand Depart' is hosted outside of France since the race's creation in 1903.
The three road stages will be a celebration of the Basque Country’s love of cycling, with huge crowds expected for the team presentation outside the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.
The opening stage will suit puncheurs, possibly with minor GC battle, as the peloton will face the Alto de Vivero, and tackle and even more complicated climb towards the end with 2 kilometers at 9% (Côte de Pike) which finishes only 10 kilometers away from the finale in Bilbao.
Stage 2 features more punchy terrain on a 209km route from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Donostia San Sebastián, with the Jaizkibel climb – well known from the Donostia San Sebastián Klasikoa – only 20km from the finish that could see a reduced bunch sprint.
Stage 3 starts in Amorebieta-Etxano and heads along the Spanish coastline over the French border and ends in Bayonne 185km later with the sprinters lining up for the stage win. Stage 4 is another day for the fast men with a sprint finish on the Nogaro motor racing circuit.
Stage 5 sees the first mountain stage with a classic Pyreenean stage from from Pau to Tarbes taking in the Col de Soudet and Cal de Marie Blanque. Stage 6 is another classic Pyreenean stage featuring the arducous climbs of the Col d'Aspin, the fearsome Col du Tourmalet and an uphill finish into Cautarets-Cambasque.
Stage 7 takes the Tour away from the Pyrenees towards the Massif-Central with a start in Mont-de-Marsan and a dead pan flat run into Bordeaux, no doubt Mark Cavendish will be looking for his elusive 35th stage win.
Stage 8 continues towards the Massif Central with another opportunity for the sprinters, as the mountains return on stage 9, with the classic finish atop the Puy de Dôme before the first rest day.
The Second Week
After the first rest day, the second week kicks off with a 167km hilly stage from the Vulcania volcano park and Issoire that will suit a breakaway. Stage 11 heads east from Clermont Ferrand to Moulins for another sprint finish.
Another flat day on stage 12 from Roanne to Belleville-en-Beaujolais should see the start in the battle for the Green Jersey.
Stage 13 is held on Bastille day, France’s national holiday on July 14th, and is celebrated with a summit finish on the Grand Colombier. The Alpine mountains keep coming with a climb up the Col de Joux Plaine to Morzine on stage 14 where Armstrong famously bonked and lost the stage to Marco Pantani.
Stage 15 is another mountain finish in Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc. The stage through the Haute-Savoie includes the Col de la Forclaz, the Croix Fry and the Col des Aravis. The climb to the finish kicks off with the 11% Côte des Amerands and final 7km climb up to Saint-Gervais with gradients touching 17%.
The Third Week
After the second rest day, the only time trial arrives on stage 16, with a 22km uphill stage from Passy to Combloux which give GC contenders a chance to take back time.
Stage 17 the following day will take the peloton to the highest point above sea level with over 5,000m of climbing en route to the Courchevel Altiport, via the stunning Cormet de Roselend and the monstrous and steep Col de la Loze - a brutal stage.
Stages 18 and 19 start to head north away from the Alps made for the sprinters and the continuation in the battle for the Green jersey with flat finishes in Bourg-en-Bresse and Poligny.
The penultimate stage continues north from Belfort with five categorized climbs including; the Ballon d'Alsace, Crois des Moinats, Col de Gross Pierre, Petit Ballon and the Col du Platzerwasel before finishing in Le Markstein, as the Tour de France Femmes did last year.
It's a 500km transfer to the outskirts of Paris for the ceremonial stage and the final sprint showdown on the capital’s Champs-Elysées from the national velodrome in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, the 2024 Olympics track cycling venue.
The 2023 Tour de France will begin on July 1st, with the winner crowned in Paris on July 23rd.