A funny snake of 3,404 km which sometimes gives the impression of trying to bite its own tail: the route of this Tour 2023 revealed as usual with great fanfare this Thursday, October 27 by ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation), the organizing company, has a rather unprecedented look. But it was necessary to adapt to this constraint of a “great departure” in the Spanish Basque Country which forces us to shake up the usual patterns.
The Grande Boucle, it is true, is no longer a surprise. In 1992, with already a start in San Sebastian, she quickly cleared the Pyrenees to visit the North, Belgium and Luxembourg in an acrobatic split. By taking off next year from Bilbao and after three first 100% Basque stages promised to adventurers who love bumps, it quickly imposes serious things, with the Pyrenees which will certainly not be the main course but offer themselves in consistent entry from July 5th. A classic Pau-Laruns and a severe climb towards Cauterets, the organizers do not skimp on the animation of a first week which has not been used for a long time as a nice warm-up.
Back to the mythical Puy-de-Dôme
A first week which will also end on July 9 on a summit, and not the least: the mythical Puy-de-Dôme. This is the big blow of this Tour 2023. Returning to the monster, inaccessible since 1988 because of the narrowness of a road also prohibited by municipal decree since 2012, was one of the dreams of Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Round. He has worked in recent years to bring down the resistance one by one, and with the respect of drastic access limitations (no spectators, restricted followers), the Tour will relive the climb for the fourteenth time since 1952, and awaken the ghosts of Raymond Poulidor and Jacques Anquetil who wrote on these slopes on July 12, 1964 some unforgettable lines of cycling legend.
The possibility of climbing the volcano again was well worth a long stay in Auvergne, the region benefiting from four days of presence, including the first day of rest in Clermont-Ferrand, before heading for the Jura via the wine route Beaujolais, for a stage on July 14 to Grand-Colombier considered one of the toughest passes in France, and especially the Alps, less spoiled in recent years, but to which the 2023 edition gives pride of place, in two times.
The Alps as a main course, the Vosges for dessert
First towards Morzine with a Col de Joux-Plane which in the past has had a great time upsetting the classifications, then towards Saint-Gervais before the second day of rest. The rest promises sparks, with a short (22 km) but very tough time trial, and the return to the 17e stage on July 19 towards the altiport of Courchevel of the very nasty Col de la Loze, specially tarmacked for its frightening appearance during the 2020 Tour. The 21.5 km of ascent, of which the last seven are almost inhuman with slopes around 20 %, will once again push the runners to their limits.
End of hostilities? What not. To get the peloton out of the way, the organizers have planned a fifth massif, the Vosges, for dessert. On the eve of the arrival in Paris, climbing the balloon and the small balloon of Alsace, and six chained passes should satisfy the strongest appetites.
The menu is therefore rather rich, and you will have to like to hurt yourself. Can the profile push the new darling of world cycling, the Belgian Remco Evenepoel, recent winner of the Tour of Spain, to come and taste his first Tour de France rather than waiting for 2024 as planned in his program? This is obviously the question that will still agitate the months to come. The playing field can make you salivate, but it is above all the different actors in full that fans of the little queen hope for. Finally a Tour with all the top names: Jonas Vingegaard, Tadej Pogacar, Remco Evenepoel, Egan Bernal, Primoz Roglic, Wout van Aert, Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel, all on the same poster. Chick!
► The stages of the Tour de France 2023
July 1: 1st stage Bilbao (Spain) – Bilbao, 182 km
July 2: 2nd stage Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) – San Sebastian (Spain), 209 km
July 3: 3rd stage Amorebieta-Etxano (Spain) – Bayonne, 185 km
July 4: 4th stage Dax – Nogaro, 182 km
July 5: 5th stage Pau – Laruns, 165 km
July 6: 6th stage Tarbes – Cauterets-Cambasque, 145 km
July 7: 7th stage Mont-de-Marsan – Bordeaux, 170 km
July 8: 8th stage Libourne – Limoges, 201 km
July 9: 9th stage Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat – Puy-de-Dôme, 184 km
July 10: rest in Clermont-Ferrand
July 11: 10th stage Vulcania – Issoire, 167 km
July 12: 11th stage Clermont-Ferrand – Moulins, 180 km
July 13: 12th stage Roanne – Belleville-en-Beaujolais, 169 km
July 14: 13th stage Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne – Grand-Colombier, 138 km
July 15: 14th stage Annemasse – Morzine-Les Portes du Soleil, 152 km
July 16: 15th stage Les Gets-Les Portes du Soleil – Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc, 180 km
July 17: rest in Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc
July 18: 16th stage Passy – Combloux (individual time trial), 22 km
July 19: 17th stage Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc – Courchevel, 166 km
July 20: 18th stage Moûtiers – Bourg-en-Bresse, 186 km
July 21: 19th stage Moirans-en-Montagne – Poligny, 173 km
July 22: 20th stage Belfort – Le Markstein, 133 km
July 23: 21st stage Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines – Paris Champs-Elysées, 115 km