tour de france 2023 route
Le Tour, 2023 men's route; (screenshot/letour.fr)

2023 Men’s Tour de France Reveals Record-Breaking Number of Climbs

Riders at next year’s men’s Tour will hit the ground running — well, pedaling, uphill, a lot.

The Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) just finalized and announced the 2023 men’s Tour de France route and attracted some attention: it’s a doozy.

Yesterday, organizers unveiled a uniquely brutalizing program that visits all five of France’s mountain regions and includes 30 categorized “cols.” What’s that? A climb graded second-category or harder, breaking the race record and looping in seven more steeps than 2022’s race did.

For reference, a category 2 hill could be about 3 miles long at an average grade of 8%. This represents among the most manageable climbs on this year’s docket — the most punishing segments will be orders of magnitude harder.

The field will take off on July 1 from Bilbao, one of 12 brand-new towns and other locations Le Tour has never passed through. From there, riders will climb first into the Pyrenees, and then into the Massif Central, the Jura, the Alps, and finally, the Vosges mountains.

 

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Three climbs no Tour de France route has ever touched join the list, too: the Côte de Vivero (Basque Country), the Col de la Croix Rosier (Massif Central), and the Col du Feu (Alps). The Col de la Loze will be the “roof” of the 2023 Tour on stage 17, at 7,559 feet of elevation.

And don’t miss the wildly steep Puy de Dome climb that concludes stage 9. It returns after a 35-year hiatus — the iconic volcano has not appeared on any Tour route since 1988.

Only one time trial is scheduled, a single 22km (13.6 miles) segment in the Alps, at altitude and in steep terrain. It’s the 16th stage, from Passy to Combloux.

 

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Rider impressions have varied in the wake of the announcement. Two-time winner Tadej Pogačar pointed out that the route’s bookends are steep and demanding, and hinted that the layout dovetails with his aggressive style, according to Cyclingnews.

Elsewhere, legendary sprinter Mark Cavendish is still hunting for a team after sitting out of last year’s Tour. Cavendish co-owns the distinction of the most Tour stages ever won with 34 — and implied that he’s hungry to get back in the mix and potentially break the record to own it solo.

“[I]f the sprinters can survive the mountains, they’ve got ample opportunities for real bunch sprints. Long boulevard finishes of more than a kilometre of a final straight,” he told Cyclingnews.

The outlet also asked whether Pogačar wants revenge after newcomer Jonas Vingegaard booted him off the top of the podium last year.

His answer: a modestly affirmative “Yeah, I guess.”

It’s a steep route back to the top for ​​Pogačar — and the rest of the field.

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Sam Anderson
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Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.