The 2023 Tour de France riders are ready for one last grueling block of races on a treacherous course that will cross all five mountain ranges.
And double champion Tadej Pogacar doesn’t care at all.
“I really like the course, it will be a tough race from the start with a tough week in the Basque Country,” said Pogacar, the 2020 and 2021 winner, after the challenging course was unveiled on Thursday.
“There is a lot of climbing, which I like, especially the first and third week.”
Starting in Bilbao in Spain, the group will quickly be in the Pyrenees with a summit finish of the iconic Col du Tourmalet before heading to the Massif Central to finish at the top of Puy de Dôme for the first time since 1988.
The Jura and the Alps will include three consecutive mountain hikes before a day of rest, a short but brutal individual time trial and a ride to Courchevel with an elevation gain of 5,100 meters.
“They will arrive at the foot of the Col de la Loze (the last climb before descending to Courchevel) really hungry. The riders will have to stay calm to be vigilant during the difficult descent, ”said Tour Sporting Director Thierry Gouvenou.
“It’s a big, big scene.”
The Tour could therefore take place in the penultimate stage towards Markstein in the Vosges, where the women’s Tour ended last year.
“We are trying to make the most of the country’s mountain ranges and a start from the Basque Country made it possible,” said Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme.
With only 22 kilometers of time trial, of course, pure climbers will be favored.
“You never know what’s going to happen. There is what we imagine and the scenarios we would like to see, but sometimes we get something completely different, ”Prudhomme said.
“What we want is something like last year.”
In 2022 Pogacar, then reigning champion, made a crack in the climb of Col du Granon after Jumbo-Visma, the team of eventual winner Jonas Vingaard, threw everything against the Slovenian in a period stage, undoubtedly the most spectacular. of the century.
Sprinters will have several opportunities to shine beyond the traditional finish on the Champs Elysées in Paris with stages ending in Bordeaux, Poligny and Nogaro.
Mark Cavendish’s presence will be the biggest question mark as the Brit seeks to break the record of 34 stage wins he shares with Belgian great Eddy Merckx.
The Tour will begin on July 1st with its second “big departure” from the Basque Country after leaving San Sebastian in 1992.