100 days from the big departure, Bilbao is preparing the party

100 days from the big departure, Bilbao is preparing the party

Exchange of jerseys, yellow for the Tour de France and red and white for that of Athletic Bilbao in front of the San Mames stadium. Tour de France

Just over three months from the start of the 110th Grande Boucle, the Basque Country has given an overview of what the trilogy will be on its territory.

Special Envoy to Bilbao

Countdown. The peloton lives to the rhythm of the spring of the classics while behind the scenes, the Tour de France (July 1-23) is being prepared. Bilbao, on Wednesday and Thursday, celebrated the event to the rhythm of choirs and musical groups applauded by spectators who took care to tie a yellow scarf around their necks. The town hall and San Mames stadium were, for the occasion, illuminated in yellow, a huge yellow jersey (13 mx 10 m) decorated the Aznar building, a famous building in the shape of a boat. “The Tour is the most exciting race in the world, one of the most important sporting events in the world. The standards of the Tour are high, we will offer the best and show our attractivenesssums up Juan Mari Aburto, the mayor of Bilbao, imagining these days of celebration.

«That’s a beautiful story. It started in 2016, we received a Vuelta stage and spoke with Christian Prudhomme. We wanted the big start of the Tour de France, the feeling was good. In 2018, during another passage of the Tour of Spain, the organizers of the Tour were able to perceive the passion of the inhabitants for cycling. In 2019, we had a date in Paris, before an agreement in 2020, kept secret“, says Unai Rementeria Maiz, Deputy General of Biscay, taking out a small yellow notebook in which he recorded the stages of the project.

Bilbao City Hall in the colors of the Stade de France. Tour de France

The Basque Country paid 12 million euros to host the event

It remained for the authorities to wait for the formalization in March 2021. Since then the city has been working. And projects himself: “We expect thousands and thousands of spectators. Especially with a first stage which will not be classic but relatively difficult. It should be wonderful », enthuses the mayor, before announcing that the entrance ticket is « 12 million euros», supported by Bilbao, the Basque government, the capitals of the provinces and the communities.

«We are not just hoping for economic benefits. The citizens deserve this great departure. We went through the crisis, the pandemic, it’s something we want to share. They deserve it. And it’s a beautiful image that we want to give. The Tour de France is the third sporting event in the world after the Olympic Games and the Football World Cup, we cannot host the first two, the third yes. We have the technology, the knowledge, we want to give this image to the world“, confides the deputy general of Biscay.

The San Mames stadium in the colors of the iconic yellow jersey. Tour de France

«There is a very strong passion, they are used to a Tour of the Basque Country at the beginning of April every year and the Clasica San Sebastián which are great races, there is a large public, which is full of passion, who is proud, fervent. I’m not very worried about the enthusiasm of the public in the Basque Country in July. We feel a strong urge. The Basques are certainly one of the best people in the world for cycling, on the podium without the slightest doubt, I’m waiting for them to show us that they deserve the yellow jersey at the beginning of next July. And there is the diffusion, the aesthetic character which is very important, showing the coast, the coastline, the history too, we are going to pass Guernica twice (1st stage) and its steep slopes which will make the first Jersey yellow which will be unhooked will be that of a large», rejoices Christian Prudhomme on the occasion of his eighth visit to Bilbao since 2020, looking at the profile of the 1st stage drawn around Bilbao (185 km bristling in particular with the Pike coast 2km at 9% 10 km from the arrival). This will be followed by Vitoria-San Sebastian 210 km) and the departure from Amorebieta-Extano towards Bayonne.

The Tour de France will start from the Basque Country on July 1st. Tour de France


The great departures from abroad, it is to shine the Tour

Christian Prudhomme

Bilbao will be the 25th start of the Tour de France from abroad (the 2nd from Spain, after San Sebastián in 1992), before the 26th in Florence, in 2024. Christian Prudhomme who, on Thursday, read the “Dictée du Tour” in the public school Legarda de Mungia and at the Lycée français de Bilbao, before taking the road to Vitoria, recalls: “The great departures from abroad, it is to shine the Tour, it is to shine France. The only sine qua none condition is that when we have big departures abroad, we have medium-sized towns and small towns, communes, French villages. Leaving Bilbao, as we left Copenhagen (in 2022), as we will leave Florence (in 2024), it is possible because there is Castelnau-Magnoac, Laruns, Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne, it is capital.»

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