Yesterday afternoon, the news broke that the 2023 Tour de France will be held on Basque roads.  This is great news that not only has to make cycling fans happy, but which Basque society must see as an opportunity to project its image to the world.

Honestly, we cannot help but be thrilled when we see that the 2023 edition of the most important cycling race in the world will travel through four of the 6/7 Basque territories.  If the fourth stage had left from Bayonne and passed through Maule, that would have been perfect, as it would have passed through every territory of our country.  But we’re not complaining: four out of six ain’t bad (to paraphrase the late, great Meat Loaf).

These are the three stages:

  • Stage 1: A circular route, Bilbao—Bilbao, traveling throughout Biscay.
  • Stage 2: Leaves from Vitoria and ends in San Sebastian after crossing over Jaizkibel.
  • Stage 3: Leaves from Amorebieta-Etxano and ends in Bayonne?

And here, in this last stage, is where things went a bit sideways for us.  We’re not sure what our compatriots in the Northern Basque Country (because yes, they are our compatriots, as Maurice Ravel made clear) will make of the slogan that appears with these first three stages, À la mode basque, as it seems to be running from Amorebieta to possibly Bayonne, but just kind of disappears at the border between the Northern and Southern Basque Countries at Irún.

Tour de France 2023. Etapa 1 Tour de France 2023. Etapa 2 Tour de France 2023. Etapa 3
Tour de France 2023
Stage 1
Tour de France 2023
Stage 2
Tour de France 2023
Stage 3 (incomplete)

Interactive Whiteboards by PolyVision

 

So it would seem that the Amorebieta—Bayonne? stage which travels through Labourd is not included in that part of the À la mode basque article, nor on the map of the route of the same.  And honestly, we don’t understand why.

Assuming the best, it could be because they still don’t want to officially reveal the end of that stage.  And this could really be the reason why, as the Tour de France’s official website finishes by saying “The farewell from the Basque Country will be held after crossing the border city of Irún, on its way to…”.  But that’s still hard to understand, as this would be a kind of open secret.  Given the distance from Amorebieta to Irún, it would seem to be necessary for the stage to end in Labourdan coastal town, and the most logical destination would be Bayonne, as some media outlets have already pointed out.

In any case, wherever it ends (be it even in Bordeaux or Dax), this third stage would necessarily have to pass through the Northern Basque Country.

This lack of precision has led some media outlets to erroneously report that the first time the Tour de France visited the Basque Country was in 1949, when the 9th edition ended in San Sebastian.  That is not exactly true, because the first time the Tour passed through Basque territory was in 1906, when its 8th stage ended in Bayonne.

Fortunately, some French media outlets are more aware of the reality, and specify that two of the three stages pass through the “Southern Basque Country” and the third one starts there, meaning it would end at some place in the “Northern Basque Country”.  This is a specification The Guardian also makes.  We’re highly skeptical that Spanish media have been as careful in their descriptions.

So then, we end with a question: Will we get to enjoy the participation of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team in this race?  Honestly, that would be a dream come true, to see that team race the “gala round”, a dream no only of many Basques, but also of many cycling fans all over the world, which has always had an amazing worldwide following.  THis can easily be seen in the man articles we’ve brought you about this team here on the blog.

We’ll leave you with the articles we’ve collected from several different media outlets.

The Guardian – 26/1/2022 – Great Britain

Spain’s Basque country to host the 2023 Tour de France’s Grand Depart

Spain’s Basque country will host the start of the Tour de France for the second time after organisers confirmed on Wednesday the city of Bilbao would stage the 2023 Grand Depart. It will be only the second time the race starts in Spain, the other occasion being in San Sebastian in 1992 at the beginning of Miguel Indurain’s reign in yellow.

(Follw) (Automatic translation)

Eurosports – 26/1/2022 – Great Britain 

‘A MOMENTOUS OCCASION FOR THE BASQUE COUNTRY’ – SPANISH REGION TO HOST GRAND DEPART OF 2023 TOUR DE FRANCE

The Grand Depart for the 2023 Tour de France will take place in the Basque region of northern Spain. With the 2022 Grand Depart taking place in Denmark, it will be the second year in a row that the start of the world’s most famous bike race will have an international flavour. There will be three stages starting in the region, with the first and second likely to pique the interest of those challenging for overall glory with steep climbs towards the finish.
(Follow) (Automatic translation)

La Prensa – 26/1/2022 -Panama

Desveladas las tres primeras etapas del Tour 2023 en el País Vasco

El Tour de Francia 2023 saldrá del País Vasco español, donde se correrán sus tres primeras etapas presentadas este miércoles por su director François Prudhomme en la ciudad de Bilbao, punto de partida de la ronda francesa.

(Follow) (Automatic translation)

ActuPays Basque – 26/1/2022 – Euskadi (Northern)

Tour de France 2023. Les trois premières étapes au Pays Basque Sud dévoilées

L’édition 2023 de la Grande Boucle partira de Bilbao. Les trois premières étapes ont été révélées ce mercredi 26 janvier lors d’une conférence de presse qui s’est tenue dans la capitale du Pays basque à Vitoria-Gasteiz.

(Follow) (Automatic translation)

Figaro – 26/1/2022 – France

Tour de France 2023: les trois premières étapes dévoilées, une entame pour puncheurs au Pays Basque espagnol

Le coup d’envoi du Tour de France 2023 avantagera les puncheurs dans la première étape à Bilbao qui a été dévoilée mercredi par son directeur Christian Prudhomme lors d’une conférence de presse à Vitoria, capitale de la communauté autonome du Pays Basque.

(Follow) (Automatic translation)