Route Blog Stage 20. Belfort – Le Markstein. 133km

Between December and June, we’re going to blog, one stage at a time, about the 2023 Tour de France route. You’ll find stage descriptions for every stage on our Route page.

We’re in the Vosges now, cycling between a city known for its massive summer rock festival, “les Eurockéennes”.

Belfort had historical significance as a town that linked the Rhine and the Rhone. This made it important for trade but also an obvious target for invasions. As far back as the Romans and as recently as the Second World war, Belfort has been a target and as a town has had to learn resilience and independence…

Maybe that’s why it was an obvious choice as the destination for the first ever recorded large-scale long-distance running race. It was held in 1882 and the route was Paris to Belfort over 380km. 1,100 competitors registered, 800 started and the winner (Constant Ramoge) crossed the line in 100hrs and 5 mins. The newspaper which organised the race (sound familiar? A sporting race organised by a newspaper?), “Le Petit Journal” saw its circulation dramatically increase over the 2 weeks that the runners competed (380 successfully made it to Belfort).

Focusing briefly on the rest of the stage and our finish location, Le Markstein, is a chance to enjoy another ski station in the Vosges (it’s not all about the Alps you know), namely Le Markstein, first included in the 1969 Tour de France but made most famous by the 2022 Tour de France Femmes where it was the final climb on the final stage.

Le Markstein has 8 ski lifts and 13 runs including 2 black routes. It also has a thriving cross country skiing scene and, in the summer, it’s increasingly popular as a base for hand gliding, mountain biking and trail running.

Ask a French person what the Vosges mountains mean to them and they’ll most likely answer “beautiful” or “healthy”. It’s a region known for outdoor pursuits, great food, fresh air and holidays. By the end of this stage, you’ll know what they mean.

This stage is part of the following Loops: Second half & Grand Loop.

Don’t just watch it; Ride it!

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