The whispers of what the 2023 Tour de France route could look like

It's only a week until we find out but we're bored of waiting.

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Sure, there is less than a week until we find out what the route of the 2023 Tour de France will be, but you want to know now, right?

The closer we get to the date where race Christian Prudhomme and invited Tour cyclists gather in Paris to watch what is effectively a big and expensive PowerPoint presentation, the more impatient we all become – just tell us already!

Of course, that hasn’t stopped internet sleuths and various local French press piecing together evidence of where the 2023 race will go. From interpreting the cryptic tweets of mayors to the inexhaustible Velowire checking the lack of hotel availability in towns on suspected dates, here are the broad brush strokes ahead of the official communiqué in the French capital next week.

Basque Grand Départ and into the Pyrenees

Beginning on July 1, the Tour de France will set off from Spain for only the second time in history, the first being in San Sebastián in 1992. An opening 185 km jaunt around Bilbao will be followed by a longer, 210 km stage from Vitoria-Gasteiz to San Sebastián. Stage 3 then sets off from Amorebieta-Etxano and…that’s all of the confirmed information we have so far.

Regional newspaper Sud Ouest have most of the info on where they expect the race to then head on their own roads. But before we get to possible locations, Prudhomme has made himself clear as to the flavour of the opening week, once again looking to appease the talents of Julian Alaphilippe, Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel (who would obviously all be at the race anyway) with a selection of punchy stages that could see them challenge for stage wins and the yellow jersey.

“For the past two years, the first week has clearly been made for the puncheurs,” Prudhomme told Le Figaro of the first week of the 2023 route. “It depends on the riders but next year there will be a start of puncheurs and that’s very good. I hope we will have Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert of course. I don’t want to say it can be even better but if riders who feel limited in the high mountains, but otherwise have phenomenal ability, want to use the first week to get ahead overall, not just to be in front for a week but to be in front longer, they will have plenty to do…”

Stage 3 will apparently end in Bayonne as the Tour enters France, with Sud Ouest mentioning Dax and Laruns for a possible route for stage 4 before an uphill finish on stage 5 following a day beginning in Pau. An individual time trial could slot in for the mysterious stage 6 (backed up by the fact that hotel snooping from Velowire wouldn’t necessarily reveal a contained time trial course with teams able to stay in various surrounding towns).

A finish in Bordeaux seems set for stage 7 before an arrival in Limoges the next day as the race heads north. On Sunday’s stage 9 we head to the Puy de Dôme, hopefully up the mountain, which would be a first return since 1988.

Hotel sleuthing reveals the first rest day will be in the rugby town of Clermont-Ferrand, where if you need somewhere to plug in a laptop the only suitable place is the inside left table at the Irish pub on the main strip – you never know, this information could be useful to you one day.

Week deux towards the Alps

The second week of the Tour starts off hot due to its location in the volcanic area of the Auvergne, La Montagne reports, with a stage that should apparently be equally as testing as the Puy de Dôme. Confusingly, the race then heads back to Clermont-Ferrand on stage 11 before we start to head eastwards towards the Alps, likely followed by a day heading out of Roanne.

Then, on Friday July 14’s stage 13, Bastille Day, we see a finish on the Grand Colombier. Magnifique.

Le Dauphiné Libéré reports stage 14 will arrive at the ski station of Morzine, which already hosted the first rest day of last year’s race and could also host a rest day this year too. Then, according to Velowire, we’ll have an Alpine time trial on the Sunday, let’s hope it’s a course that features bike changes.

The final week

The same French newspaper then reports, after the second rest day, a stage 16 between Les Gets and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains before a finish on stage 17 up at the Courchevel altiport via the difficult Col de la Loze. Who doesn’t love a stage finish up an altiport!

On stage 18 we leave the Alps via the Ain department before a stage 19 in the Jura department as we head north towards Paris. Then, on stage 20, a hopefully blockbuster finish up the Grand Ballon in what would be the first time since 2019 that the penultimate stage wasn’t an individual time trial.

Finally, the processional stage on the Champs-Élysées, before a possible doing away with the (relatively recent) tradition of the Paris curtain call in 2024 as the race looks to avoid running into the Paris Olympics.

So, there we have it. Kind of. Already, with nine months to go, the 2023 Tour sounds a mouthwatering prospect. Let’s hope the official announcement lives up to the rumours.

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