Cycling-Classics.com is presenting the Preview Route Tour de France 2023! In three weeks they will ride in 21 stages and 3.404 kilometers from Bilbao to Paris! And the route will be very attractive! The route of the upcoming edition has a lot to offer on paper. The race starts with two challenging stages in the Basque Country, enters the Pyrenees early on, and also visits the four other mountain ranges of France. Read on in this Preview Route Tour the France 2023!
Preview Route Tour de France 2023
Le Grand Depart: Basque start
The Tour de France starts this year once again outside the French borders. Last year, Copenhagen had the honor of hosting the Grand Départ, and this year it goes to Bilbao. The last time the Tour started in Spain was in 1992. Back then, the cycling-crazy Basque Country was briefly the center of the cycling world. The Tour de France opened with a prologue in San Sebastián, where Miguel Indurain claimed the first yellow jersey.
In 2023, it will take good climbing legs rather than time trial skills for a strong start. This year, the Tour begins with a challenging stage, starting and finishing in Bilbao. The race immediately goes uphill from the start, and the rest of the 182-kilometer first stage continues with constant ups and downs. The final part is particularly difficult: the last forty kilometers feature three categorized climbs. Moreover, the final kilometer ascends with an average gradient of 5.4 percent. The sprinters should not have any illusions.
The second stage starts in the capital of the Basque Country. Not Bilbao or San Sebastián, but the lesser-known Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Netherlands and Belgium. From this inland location, the route heads towards the Bay of Biscay. Before reaching the coast, the riders still have a few climbs to conquer. In the finale, they will face the Jaizkibel, known from the Clásica San Sebastián. The finish line is in San Sebastián, after 209 kilometers. This makes it the longest stage of the Tour de France.
On day three, the peloton leaves the Basque Country and heads towards France. After the start in Amorebieta-Etxano, the first hundred kilometers are quite hilly. The second part of the stage is easier. After crossing the Spanish-French border – which happens with over fifty kilometers to go – the riders will encounter one more climb. The Côte de Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle (3.9 kilometers at 3.1 percent) is not a leg breaker, but the pure sprinters will still fear it. The summit is located nineteen kilometers from the finish in Bayonne.
Preview Route Tour de France 2023: Quickly into the Pyrenees
The third stage is still uncertain, the fourth stage will be for the sprinters. Between Dax and Nogaro, the riders only face one categorized climb. The Côte de Dému, although in the finale, is not a significant climb. Most likely, it will come down to the fast men on the Paul Armagnac motor racing circuit. Eddy Merckx was once the best in the Critérium des As on this circuit, ahead of Freddy Maertens and Gerben Karstens. Who will follow in the footsteps of the Cannibal?
The sprinters will eagerly seize their chance in Nogaro because this year’s Tour enters the high mountains early. On Wednesday, the first Pyrenees stage is on the program. The fifth stage starts in Pau and takes the riders over the Col du Soudet (15.1 km at 7%), the Col d’Ichère (4.4 km at 6.2%), and the Col de Marie Blanque (9.2 km at 7.6%). After the last climb, there are still eighteen downhill kilometers to go. There is no uphill finish, but contenders having a bad day can already suffer a significant blow here.
A day later, the favorites will have to reveal themselves completely. The finish is uphill in Cauterets-Cambasque. Until Cauterets (where Rafał Majka won in 2015), the climb is not too difficult, but in the last five and a half kilometers, it averages a steep 7.7%. This is where significant differences can be made. Especially since the riders will have already tackled the Col d’Aspin and the Col de Tourmalet before starting the final climb. This sixth stage is a true Pyrenean classic.
Heading towards Puy de Dôme
The seventh stage is likely to be for the sprinters again. The 169.9-kilometer long stage, starting in Mont-de-Marsan and finishing in Bordeaux, hardly has any climbs. It has been since 2010 that Bordeaux was the finishing place in the Tour de France. The victory went to Mark Cavendish (photo below), bringing his tally to fourteen stage wins. Will he now claim his 35th victory and break Eddy Merckx’s record? If Dylan Groenewegen or Fabio Jakobsen stand in his way, it would mean the thirteenth Dutch victory in Bordeaux.
Stage eight is the second and also the final stage of the Tour in which the 200-kilometer mark is exceeded. After starting in Libourne, the riders initially encounter no notable obstacles, but that changes in the second part of the stage. Until the last ten kilometers, there are constant ups and downs. The final stretch towards Limoges is mostly flat, although the last kilometer has a nasty uphill section. Nevertheless, a bunch sprint is not a foregone conclusion. Strong sprinters, punchers, and escape artists will all sense their opportunity.
Keep Sunday, July 9th free on your agenda: you don’t want to miss the ninth stage of this Tour de France! This stage ends after a hilly approach on the Puy de Dôme – the climb where Jan Nolten narrowly lost to Coppi, where Poulidor and Anquetil engaged in a heroic duel, and where Merckx received a blow to his liver. After 1988 (see video), an arrival on this iconic mountain – with its narrow road and limited space at the top – was no longer possible, but now the dormant volcano is making a comeback. Fireworks guaranteed. On a climb of 13.9 kilometers at 7.7 percent, nobody can hide.
Treacherous transitional stages
After the first rest day, a transitional stage follows from the Vulcania amusement park (theme: volcanoes) to Issoire. This tenth stage screams for a successful escape. Attackers with ambition must be able to ride uphill, as the stage includes several climbs. Five of them are categorized, with four being third-category climbs and one second-category. The final climb is the Côte de La Chapelle-Marcousse (6.5 km at 5.6%), with its summit located about thirty kilometers from the finish.
The eleventh stage, starting in Clermont-Ferrand, is, on paper, one for the fast men again. In the first part of the stage, there are a few hills, but they won’t cause too many problems. Furthermore, in the last sixty kilometers, there are no categorized climbs. However, there is some undulating terrain until Moulins, where the finish is located after 180.5 kilometers. The final straight line is nearly one and a half kilometers long. Ideal for a royal sprint.
The peloton approaches the Jura and the Alps, but the twelfth stage does not feature high mountains yet. However, this Thursday, there is still significant climbing to be done. The stage from Roanne to Belleville-en-Beaujolais counts no less than six climbs. The final part is quite challenging, with the consecutive climbs of the Col de la Casse Froide (5.3 km at 6.1%), the Col de la Croix Montmain (5.7 km at 6.1%), and the Col de la Croix Rosier (4.9 km at 7.7%). Will we witness a battle on two fronts on this last, not to be underestimated climb? Perhaps the mountain is a bit too far from the finish for the favorites, but the escape artists will definitely challenge each other here in pursuit of the stage victory.
Triptych for the climbers
On the fourteenth of July, the French national holiday, the Tour organization treats the cycling audience to a promising mountain stage in the Jura. The thirteenth stage starts in Châtillon sur Chalaronne and goes all the way up to the top of the Grand Colombier. This climb is about eighteen kilometers long at exactly seven percent gradient. It’s a tough one. However, in 2020, the last time the Tour de France finished on the Grand Colombier, we witnessed a fairly closed race. It came down to a sprint, in which Tadej Pogacar proved stronger than Primoz Roglic. Will we see more excitement this time? See also our preview contenders yellow jersey Tour 2023! For now, let’s read on this preview route Tour de France 2023!
The riders don’t get a relative rest day after the stage to the Grand Colombier. On the contrary, a grueling weekend in the Alps awaits them. The fourteenth stage on Saturday features six climbs, including four categorized as first-category and one as beyond-category. It’s not an easy feat. The final phase starts about 65 kilometers from the finish with the Col de la Ramaz (14.1 km at 6.9%), followed by the Col de Joux Plane (11.7 km at 8.5%). On that last climb, the most famous and challenging of the day, we can expect a great battle between the favorites. From the summit, there are only 12.5 kilometers left to the finish line in Morzine Les Portes du Soleil. (Due to safety concerns, the CPA, UCI, and ASO are still in discussions about the finale of this stage and the seventeenth stage. Changes to this stage are still possible.)
The second week concludes with another significant Alpine stage. The riders won’t face extremely long climbs, but the succession of climbs will certainly take its toll on their legs. After the Col de la Forclaz de Montmin (7.2 km at 7.4%), Col du Marais (10.2 km at 3.2%), Col de la Croix Fry (11.7 km at 7%), Col des Aravis (4.6 km at 6.1%), and the Côte des Amerands (2.7 km at 10.1%), most riders will likely be quite exhausted already when they start the final climb to Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc-Le Bettex (7.3 km at 7.8%). With a rest day on the horizon, the contenders for the overall classification will push each other to the limit here.
Preview Route Tour de France 2023: Time trial kilometers and queen stage
The third week begins with an individual time trial, the only one in the Tour 2023. The profile of the sixteenth stage indicates that we are still in the heart of the Alps. During the 22.4-kilometer race against the clock, the riders will encounter two climbs: the Côte des Soudans (1.3 km at 8.8%) and the Côte de Domancy (2.5 km at 9.4%). The time trial partially follows the same route as the second time trial of the 2016 Tour, when Chris Froome emerged victorious ahead of Tom Dumoulin. Back then, Sallanches and Megève served as the start and finish locations, while now it’s Passy and Combloux.
The seventeenth stage to Courchevel is the queen stage of this Tour. After all, the finish line is only six kilometers after the summit of the final climb, known as the Col de la Loze (28.6 km at 6%). Since the 2020 Tour, we know what a beast of a climb that is. The Col des Saisies, Cormet de Roselend, and Côte de Longefoy, which the riders will tackle before the Col de la Loze, are relatively easier, but they will still leave their mark. Minutes can be gained or lost in this stage.
In the eighteenth stage, we leave the Alps behind. We ride from Moûtiers to Bourg-en-Bresse, along the edge of the mountain range. There are a few hills that couldn’t be avoided, but it never becomes truly challenging. In the first week, this would be a hundred percent chance for the sprinters, but in the third week, different dynamics often come into play. Can the breakaway surprise the fast men?
Stage nineteen seems tailor-made for the attackers. The riders won’t encounter extremely tough climbs between Moirans-en-Montagne and Poligny, but there isn’t a single flat meter on this Friday either. This might discourage the sprinter teams from going all out. After the Côte d’Ivory (2.3 km at 5.7%), with just under thirty kilometers to go, the most challenging part is behind them. Although the slightly uphill finishing straight does favor the power riders.
We’ve already covered the Pyrenees, the Massif Central, the Jura, and the Alps. Now it’s time for the fifth and final mountain range of France: the Vosges! Here, on the penultimate day, the race will take its definitive shape. This will happen in a 133-kilometer stage featuring no fewer than six climbs. The last two of these, the Petit Ballon (9.3 km at 8.1%) and Col du Platzerwasel (7.1 km at 8.4%), both fall into the first category. After the top of the Platzerwasel, there are eight undulating kilometers left to the finish line in Le Markstein Fellering. It’s there that we will know who will win the Tour de France 2023. Heinrich Haussler managed to win on the Platzerwasel in 2009. Who will be the Haussler of this Tour?
The final stage of the Tour starts in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and traditionally heads towards Paris. The recipe for this day is well-known. After passing by the world-famous Louvre Museum, where Tour photographers try to capture the most breathtaking and iconic images every year, the riders will go past the Palace de la Concorde and enter the Champs-Élysées. They quickly cross the finish line, followed by seven laps of six and a half kilometers. The road surface isn’t the best, but the renowned shots during the mass sprints make up for it completely. Last year, Jasper Philipsen emerged as the winner. Mark Cavendish holds the record with four victories.
A brief summary of the Tour de France 2023
Grand Départ in Bilbao
Finish in Paris
Rest days on Monday, July 10th, and Monday, July 17th
1 individual time trial
22.4 kilometers of individual time trial
4 uphill finishes
2 stages longer than 200 kilometers
14 stages between 150 and 200 kilometers long
18 climbs of fourth category
22 climbs of third category
11 climbs of second category
14 climbs of first category
6 climbs of “hors catégorie” (beyond categorization)
More Tour 2023 previews?
Did you, after reading this preview route Tour de France 2023, want more? Read on for or preview yellow jersey Tour de France 2023 or read one of the previews (voorbeschouwingen) from or colleagues from Voorjaarsklassiekers.be: voorbeschouwing Tour de France 2023, parcours Tour de France 2023, etappes Tour de France 2023, favorieten gele trui Tour de France 2023, favorieten groene trui Tour de France 2023 of favorieten bolletjestrui Tour de France 2023 and the Tips Tour Pool & Scorito Tips Tour 2023