3 Days cycling. 579km
The first three stages of the 2023 Tour provide seriously fun cycling, guaranteed sunshine, probably tapas and that holiday feeling…
This isn’t just Bilbao; it’s a chance to cycle through the hilly Basque country, rich in cycling history and cultural pride, offering limitless mountain and coastal views. Make no mistake, the stages are challenging – but the views are off the scale and the Tour de France wasn’t supposed to be easy anyway!
Over three distinct stages, you’ll discover a region that is a mixture of both modern and traditional on roads that are made for a bike. This long weekend really does have an abundance of highlights (Bilbao’s iconic centre, roads from the Clasica de San Sebastian, sweeping views of the Atlantic, French Basque villages) and all the logistics are taken care of so you can come, ride, discover and enjoy.
* Note that we have a Lite option available for each of these three stages. See stage descriptions for more detail.
Arrival & Departure:
Friday 23rd June: Arrive to Bilbao under by 7pm (travel under own arrangements) for arrival briefing.
Tuesday 27th June: Depart Bayonne hotel under own arrangements.
Arrival day: Friday 23rd June
Arrive to Bilbao under by 7pm (travel under own arrangements) for arrival briefing.
Saturday 24th June 2023. Stage 1 – Bilbao to Bilbao – 185km
Starting off with a bang, this punchy stage explores the magnificent hilly countryside around Bilbao. It has 3,300m of climbing and five classified ascents, three of them within the last 45km. Our first hour’s riding takes us straight up into the wooded hills that surround the city, before heading north to the spectacular jagged coastline of the Bay of Biscay. Expect a scenic and windswept ride as we approach Guernica (famous for the 1937 aerial bombardment that inspired Picasso’s painting of the same name). From here we set out on a 35km loop back towards the coast, past the picturesque Laga Beach, and up (vertically) to the village of Nabaniz, before passing through Guernica for a second time. The route back to Bilbao takes us through green countryside, scattered with red-rooved houses. There’s a final steep climb up Pike Bidea (look out for the 15% section), panoramic views of the city on the descent, and a 5% uphill drag to finish your legs off at the end.
Lite: Two short cuts are possible today: first from Gatika to Unduliz and then again much later in the stage in Guernica. You remove 55km and 800m of ascent, making the day a more manageable 130km with 2500m of climbing whilst still being in and amongst the other Le Loop cyclists.
Le Loop Logistics
Start: Bilbao hotel
Finish: Bilbao hotel
Sunday 25th June 2023. Stage 2 – Vitoria-Gastiez to San Sebastián – 209km
Departing from the medieval city of Vitoria-Gastiez, this stage explores the forested plateau that surrounds the Basque region’s high-altitude capital. We skirt the Zadorra reservoir system, which provides most locals with drinking water, and then after passing our highest point so far (just short of 700m), we descend quickly to the town of Arrasate, nestling among the peaks of the Alavese mountains. Then we go back up into the remote green landscape of the Basque interior and enjoy some switchbacks as we tackle the first two classified climbs of the day. This is the longest stage of the 2023 Tour, and the route is another punchy one, with around 3,000m of climbing but gradients rarely above 6% should make it feel manageable. After crossing the Gipuzkoa region on quiet winding mountain roads, we’ll reach the true showpiece of today’s ride – Jaizkibel. This prominent peak, just outside the city where we finish, features annually in the Clásica de San Sebastián, and offers breathtaking ocean views as we ready ourselves for the final descent.
Lite: This will still be a long stage at over 100 miles but a short cut towards the end of the stage direct to San Sebastian relieves you of 40km and 750m of climbing, making it a more palatable 170km with 2300m of climbing.
Le Loop Logistics
Start: Transfer to Vitoria-Gastiez
Finish: San Sebastian hotel
Monday 26th June 2023. Stage 3 – Amorebieta-Etxano to Bayonne – 185km
This is a contender for most spectacular stage of the Tour with over 60km of coastal views… We start inland, crossing the leafy Côte de Trabakua and descending among forested hills to the sandy beaches of Lekeitio with spectacular views of the Bay of Biscay along undulating roads with such good scenery that it’s joy filled cycling. We ride along a winding balcony road overlooking the blue Atlantic, occasionally turning inland to tackle the formidably steep Côte d’Itziar, and the similarly challenging Côte de Benta. We pass through San Sebastián once more and gaze up at yesterday’s Jaizkibel as we head for Irun (passing by its historic port with boats and restaurants looking out to see) and cycle over the border into France. Crossing into the French Basque country, we enjoy a few more kilometres of quiet coastal roads, then turn inland for a few disruptive hilly kilometres before we approach Bayonne, a gorgeous, relaxing town, famous for its ham and its laid back vibe.
Lite: For anyone cycling the Grand Depart, you can opt to have a lift to the first feedstop in Lekeitio, giving you all the coastal pleasure of this stage but over 140km instead of 185.
Le Loop Logistics
Start: Transfer to Amorebieta-Etxano
Finish: Bayonne hotel
Tuesday 27th June: Departure Day
Departure from Bayonne hotel under own arrangements.
Stage profiles: All available stage profiles are displayed on our Route page. The Tour de France publish maps and profiles for every stage in June. Until then we have profiles for the mountain stages and the most significant climbs only.
Due end Jan
Due end Mar
|Fundraising Target||80% Fundraising
due end April
The price of this Loop is based on a nightly cost of £175
- Accommodation (Mostly twin share. Single supplements are available to buy in January)
- All food (3 meals and the best feedstops you’ve ever seen)
- Fully signed route, the stuff of legend
- Mechanical, medical and moral support
- Luggage Transfers
- Coach transfers to the next stage start when the stages aren’t contiguous
- Travel to and from France (but we’ll give you advice on the best travel routes)
- Bike Transport (£30 each way if you want us to drive your bike there and back)
- Evening massage (£10 or €10 per massage if you’d like one – highly recommended)
- Beer/wine/drinks at dinner