Bilbao to host 2023 Tour de France 'Grand Depart'

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The 2023 Tour de France will start from the Basque city of Bilbao in Spain on July 1 that year, organisers said on Friday.

It will be only the second time in its history that the world's top cycling race has begun in the Basque Country that straddles France and Spain, after it started in San Sebastian in 1992.

Bilbao has never before hosted a stage of the race, which is the most prestigious of cycling's three Grand Tours ahead of the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.

Speaking at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Tour director Christian Prudhomme kept the details vague, only saying that the 'Grand Depart' of the 2023 race will be a stage that starts and finishes in Bilbao.

That will be followed by a second stage in the province of Araba/Alava.

It will be the second year in a row that the Tour de France starts outside France, with next year's race beginning in Copenhagen.

Bilbao's opening stage will also be the 25th time the 'Grand Depart' is hosted outside of France since the race's creation in 1903.

The Netherlands has held the first stage six times, one more than Belgium and two more than Germany. Italy is the only one of France's neighbours never to have hosted an opening stage.

The 2021 Tour starts on June 26 in Brest on the Brittany coast.