- Bilbao, the most populous city in the Basque Country, will host the start of the 110th Tour de France on Saturday 1 July 2023.
- The peloton of the Grande Boucle already converged in Spain for the 1992 Grand Départ, which was also held in the Basque Country, specifically in San Sebastián. In addition to the Pyrenean stages that pass through the country now and then, nine Spanish towns and cities have hosted a Tour stage start or finish. Bilbao will join the club in 2023 as the show gets on the road with a loop stage. The second stage will also take place entirely within the borders of the Basque Country.
HALFWAY BETWEEN THE SKY AND THE SEA, Christian Prudhomme
"A Grand Départ became a grand wish. Ever since the Tour de France hit the road in San Sebastián in summer 1992, the authorities and elected representatives of the Basque Country have longed to host the Grande Boucle again. This burning desire, combined with what the region brings to the table, could not be ignored, and this fervent courtship deserved to get a new taste of the three days of the Grand Départ after such a long wait. We are therefore thrilled to return to these hospitable lands, which have continued to dispatch passionate orange armies to the Pyrenees and far beyond, flying the ikurrina on the roadsides to boost the morale of their riders. Halfway between the sky and the sea, Biscaye, Alava et Gipuzkoa, the three provinces that make up the autonomous community, are fertile ground for spectacular cycling. I have no doubt that the leaders and punchers, clashing on every single climb, buoyed by the enthusiasm of the crowds, will put on quite a show. A Grand Départ for a grand wish."
WE WELCOME THE TOUR!, Iñigo Urkullu Renteria, President of the Basque Government
"July 2023 will be a momentous occasion for the Basque Country. Fans will turn out in force and pump up the festive atmosphere that Basque supporters are known for on the roads of the Tour de France. The colourful Basque tide that infuses legendary mountains with joy will sweep through our own climbs, coast, towns and villages. All the Basque institutions have embraced the challenge and are working as a team to seize the opportunity. For us, this is a dream come true. We understand how important this stage is for the Euskadi/Basque Country Strategy for Internationalisation, which aims to raise the profile of our country beyond our borders. Cycling is a long-standing tradition in the Basque Country. Our goal is to host a flawless Grand Départ to make our lands an even more attractive destination. Our enthusiasm and commitment fill us with a sense of purpose as we prepare to welcome the 110th edition of the Tour de France."
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Autonomous Community located in the north of Spain and consisting of three historical territories: Araba-Alava, Biscay et Gipuzkoa
Lehendakaria (President of the Government): Iñigo Urkullu Renteria
Area: 7 234 km2
Population: 2 200 000 inhabitants
Capital: Vitoria-Gasteiz (253 000 inhabitants)
Main cities: Bilbao (354 000 inhabitants), Donostia / San Sebastian (188 000 inhabitants)
Languages: euskara (basque) and spanish Voltaire defined the Basque Country as "the People who sing and dance on both sides of the Pyrenees". It shares the Basque language, the oldest language in Europe, with Navarre and with Iparralde, the French Basque Country, forming the "territory of the Basque language" with a unique culture that provides its own identity, personality and sense of belonging.
Socio-economic situation: The Basque Autonomous Community is one of the territories with the most advanced social and economic indicators in Europe. It has a high life expectancy, as well as a high rate of academic training and is among the first countries in the world in the Human Development Index. The Basque productive fabric is dynamic and open and aspires to that industry and advanced services represent 40% of the Gross Domestic Product. In addition, the European Union's Regional Innovation Scoreboard places the Basque Country in the group of High Innovation Regions with the consideration of Pole of Excellence.
Basque sports legends:
Women: Maialen Chourraut (whitewater canoeing, gold, silver and bronze 3 olympic medals 2012-2016-2020), Joane Somarriba (cycling, winner Tour de France 2000, 2001, 2003), Edurne Pasaban (alpinism, the world's first woman to summit the 14 eight-thousanders), Ibone Belaustegigoitia (trampoline jump, the first basque olympic athlete), Maider Unda (wrestling, bronze olympic medal 2012), Josune Bereziartu (climbing, leading the top female difficulty in world sport climbing from 1997 to 2017).
Men: Miguel Indurain (Navarre. Cycling, winner of five Tour de France 1991-1995), Joseba Beloki (Alava. Cycling, second Tour de France 2002 and third 2000 et 2001), Abraham Olano (Gipuzkoa. Cycling, fourth Tour de France 1997 and sixth 1999), Marino Lejarreta (Biscay. Cycling, fifth Tour de France 1989 and 1990), Xabi Alonso (football), Martin Fiz (marathon), Julen Aginagalde (handball), Aritz Aranburu (surf), Jose Maria Olazabal (golf), Jon Rahm (golf), Martin Zabaleta (alpinism, the first basque alpinist in Everest), Jose Angel Iribar (football).
Basque traditional sports: greats champions of basque pelota (“esku-pilota”, hand-pelota, and zesta-punta/Jai-Alai), “harri-jasotzea” (stone lifting), Iñaki Perurena and “arrauna” (basque traditional row).
Wednesday 28th June : Opening of the reception desk and press centre at the Bilbao Exhibition Centre (BEC) in Barakaldo.
Thursday 29th June : Presentation of the 2023 Tour de France teams at the Guggenheim museum.
Saturday 1st July : STAGE 1 - Bilbao > Bilbao.
Sunday 2nd July : STAGE 2 - Vitoria-Gasteiz > Saint-Sébastien.
Monday 3rd July : STAGE 3 - Amorebieta-Etxano > Bayonne.
STAGE 1 | BILBAO > BILBAO | 1 JULY 2023 | 185 km
This loop within the borders of Biscay takes the peloton on a roller-coaster ride on the primeval hills that mound the sea, with a double passage through Guernica, a place of remembrance. Boasting an elevation gain of 3,300 metres, this beast of a stage guarantees that the yellow jersey will go to one of the hard men. A succession of climbs will serve as an appetiser before the Pike Bidea, a 2 km climb packing an average gradient of 9%, with sections of up to 15%, coming 10 km before the finish, on the heights above Bilbao. The riders would do well to save some energy for the finish, where the stage will be decided at the top of a 5% ramp.
STAGE 2 | VITORIA-GASTEIZ > SAN SEBASTIÁN | 2 JULY 2023 | 210 km
Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of Álava and seat of the Basque institutions, will get the ball rolling on a plateau at 600 masl. The overall profile is that of a stage that rolls down towards the sea, but looks can be deceiving. After their legs have been softened up by the rugged, merciless terrain, the riders will get to grips with the Jaizkibel climb, near the Gipuzkoa capital, in the opposite direction from the Clásica de San Sebastián, which is every bit as tough than the side that often decides the outcome of the one-day race. Expect attacks to come thick and fast!
STAGE 3 | AMOREBIETA-ETXANO > BAYONNE | 3 JULY 2023
The race is going home the long way round. The sprinters could get their first chance… as long as they can navigate such a dicey course. Pedalling their way through Biscaye, the riders will reach the sea in the jaw-dropping port town of Lekeitio. From there, 80 km of coastal roads peppered with little difficulties will be a feast for their eyes and an ordeal for their legs. After bidding farewell to San Sebastián, it will be time to head towards Irun and…
Federico Ezquerra: Cannes (1936)
Jesús Loroño: Cauterets (1953)
Luis Otaño: Bourg-d'Oisans (1966)
José María Errandonea: Angers (1967)
Aurelio González: Lorient (1968)
Miguel María Lasa: Verviers (1976) and Biarritz (1978)
José Nazabal: Vitoria (1977)
Julián Gorospe: Saint-Étienne (1986)
Pello Ruiz: Évreux (1986)
Federico Echave: Alpe-d'Huez (1987)
Marino Lejarreta: Millau (1990)
Javier Murguialday: Pau (1992)
Abraham Olano: Disneyland-Paris (1997)
David Etxebarria: Saint-Flour and Pau (1999)
Javier Otxoa: Hautacam (2000)
Roberto Laiseka: Luz-Ardiden (2001)
Iban Mayo: Alpe-d'Huez (2003)
Aitor González: Nîmes (2004)
Juan Manuel Gárate: Mont Ventoux (2009)
Ion Izagirre: Morzine (2016)
Omar Fraile: Mende (2018)
Bordeaux > San Sebastián, 228 km: Louis Caput (FRA)
San Sebastián > Pau, 196 km: Fiorenzo Magni (ITA)
Oloron-Sainte-Marie > Vitoria-Gasteiz, 248 km: José Nazabal (ESP)
Vitoria-Gasteiz > Seignosse-le-Penon, 256 km: Régis Delépine (FRA)
San Sebastián, 8 km (prologue): Miguel Indurain (ESP)
San Sebastián > San Sebastián, 194.5 km: Dominique Arnould (FRA)
San Sebastián > Pau, 255 km: Javier Murguialday (ESP)
Argelès-Gazost > Pamplona, 262 km: Laurent Dufaux (SUI)
Pamplona > Hendaye, 154.5 km: Bart Voskamp (NED)
THE BASQUE COUNTRY, perfect to be enjoyed at close quarters
You couldn’t fit any more in so little space. Because it’s not easy to find so many wonders so close to each other. The Basque Country is the ideal place to enjoy numerous attractions in a short time: diverse landscapes, a pleasant climate, an age-old culture, renowned gastronomy... What more could you ask for from this unique land?
We can sum up the Basque Country with these 10 great icons, but there’s much more:
- Donostia-San Sebastián
- Gernika Assembly House
- Biscaye Bridge
- San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
- Balenciaga Museum
- Sanctuary of Loyola
The Basque Country is recognised the world over as a cycling country. Its fans, its great professionals, its events and the brands linked to the cycling industry clearly show the close links between the Basque Country, its people and this most demanding of sports.
If you’re passionate about cycling, the Basque Country offers you endless enjoyable possibilities: MTB centres, green ways, cycle holiday routes, urban routes, or hundreds of kilometres of roads with sparse traffic winding through incredible landscapes, are just some of the most attractive options you’ll find in these guides:
- The Basque Country by Bicycle Guide
- The Urola Green Way Guide
- Grand Tour Cycling Route Around the Alavan Plain Guide
More information at: Basque Country Tourism