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2023 Tour de France to start in Bilbao

PARIS FRANCE SEPTEMBER 20 Podium Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo Visma Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates Yellow Leader Jersey Richie Porte of Australia and Team Trek Segafredo Celebration Trophy Mask Covid safety measures during the 107th Tour de France 2020 Stage 21 a 122km stage from MantesLaJolie to Paris Champslyses TDF2020 LeTour on September 20 2020 in Paris France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The 2023 Tour de France will start in Bilbao, in the Basque Country of northern Spain, race organiser ASO has confirmed. 

The Tour de France will celebrate its 120th anniversary with the opening stage in Bilbao on July 1, 2023. It is the second time the French Grand Tour has started in the Basque Country after Miguel Indurain won the prologue time trial in San Sebastián in 1992. 

ASO revealed few details of the opening stages but said stage 1 will be made up of a loop around Bilbao. Stage 2 will also take place in the Basque Country before stage 3 takes the riders into France for the rest of the three-week race. 

The Tour de France first visited the Basque Country in 1949 when Louis Caput won a stage to San Sebastián. The race returned in 1977 when José Nazaba won in Vitoria. Indurain dominated the 8km prologue after winning the 1991 Tour de France and would go on to win the Grande Boucle another four times.

The 2021 Tour de France will start in Brest, with several stages in Brittany, while the 2022 race will start in Danish capital Copenhagen.

The Vuelta a España avoided the Basque Country for 30 years due to threats of violence from pro-independence groups but the Spanish Grand Tour visited Bilbao in 2011 and started in the Basque Country last year to avoid a long transfer from the Netherlands during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The Basque Country is a hotbed for cycling and has produced 21 Tour de France stage winners, almost a third of all Spanish victories (66) in the Tour de France, even though the region is home to just under 5 per cent of the country's population. 

Joseba Beloki finished on the Tour de France podium three times and Mikel Landa has twice finished fourth but a Basque rider has never won the Tour de France.

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