Visit of the five mountain ranges of France. A record of thirty passes. Nearly 56,000 meters of elevation gain. Four summit finishes. And a single 22 km time trial including a mythical raid: you will have to have light socks next July!
Unveiled Thursday in Paris, the 2023 route is gaining height. It's not always a show guarantee. But at least it makes your mouth water during the eight months preceding the big start given on July 1 in Bilbao, the second launch from Spain and 25th from abroad in the event's more than century-old history.
The route of the 110th edition resembles an arrow that crosses France diagonally, from the south-west to the center-east, from the Basque Country to Alsace, suddenly abandoning whole sections of the territory, at the risk of offending lands of cycling like Brittany, the North and the South of the Mediterranean.
But the mountain ranges, he does not forget any, successively traversing the Pyrenees, the Massif Central, the Jura, the Alps and the Vosges, where a stage comprising six ascents proposes to make the suspense last until the eve of the arrival on the Champs-Elysées on July 23.
- The return from the Col de la Loze -
If only one big symbolic event had to be remembered, it would be that of July 9 when the Tour de France will reconnect with the formidable slopes of the Puy de Dôme, 35 years after its last passage and 59 years after the legendary duel between Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor.
The Auvergne volcano, which has celebrated champions like Coppi, Bahamontes, Ocana or van Impe, is conducive to myth and the peloton could erupt that day, especially in the last four kilometers at almost 12% average and without an audience, given the narrowness of the premises.
But there are many other places to shake up the 2023 Tour. The riders will climb myths like the Tourmalet, while the Pyrenees are on the menu from the 5th stage, between Pau and Laruns, with the passes of Soudet and Marie White.
The sprinters, who will be able to console themselves on the stages leading to Bayonne, Bordeaux, the Nogaro racing circuit or Limoges, will also curse the more recent peaks, destined to become great classics.
First, the infernal Col de la Loze with its passages at more than 20%, discovered in 2020, and which will be taken this year just before diving in Courchevel for the queen stage.
But also the Grand Colombier, justice of the Jura, where the finish will take place on July 14, for the second time only in history, two years after the terrible failure of Egan Bernal.
- Only one stopwatch, in the Alps -
Overall, the 2023 Tour, whose last stage will start from the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines velodrome, seems more than ever promised to a champion who likes climbing, and this from the first stage with a loop around Bilbao offering an elevation gain of 3,300 m.
The only stopwatch on the program, between Passy and Combloux, is placed five days before the outcome. It is only 22 kilometers long - in total it is the lowest water level in history after 13 km in 2015 - and passes through the coast of Domancy (2.5 km at 9.4%), where Bernard Hinault had disgusted the competition in a bullfighting atmosphere to become world champion in 1980.
If the Belgian Remco Evenepoel, very comfortable in the timed exercise, had to be convinced to wait until 2024 to make his debut in the Tour de France, the organizers would not have gone about it any other way!
With other tough climbs in the Alps (Ramaz, Joux Plane, Forclaz, Croix Fry, Le Bettex), the 2023 route seems, at this stage, to set up a dream stage for a remake of the duel between Jonas Vingegaard, winner outgoing, and Tadej Pogacar, winner in 2020 and 2021, who dreams of taking his revenge next summer.