Tour de France 2023 Profile: Stage 2, Basque Country

When leading a Tour de France stage in your cycling classes, there is the ever-present question, “Do I create a profile well before the stage happens or do I wait until the stage is over so I can relay what actually happened?” It’s obviously something you have to ask yourself if you are going to design your own rides, but it’s significant for me and my desire to get fun and exciting TDF profiles out to ICA members so I can save you time, energy, and stress. 

There are pros and cons to both ways. If you create your profile well in advance, you can avoid the last-minute rush to get your ride done quickly. It’s much less stressful for you. You will have to invent a winner and a strategy, but that’s not such a big deal if your participants aren’t big Tour de France followers (but you’ll turn them into fans with your exciting stages, no doubt!). When I do this type of class, I don’t usually mention many names of actual riders in the Tour; instead, I talk to my participants in the second person—they become the protagonist in my story. As I cue, I look at them and declare, “You’ve prepared for months for this stage,” “You decide to break away,” “You are the team leader,” or, “You are digging in deep and wonder if you can hold this pace to the summit; your team leader on your wheel is counting on you.” That way, you don’t need an actual winner—each one of your riders is the winner, whether or not they actually “cross the finish line” first. For example, a domestique who pulls himself inside out to help their teammate—or herself if I am describing a women’s race. That domestique is a winner even if they finish dead last. 

But, to be honest, I really love the excitement and energy you can convey when describing what actually happened during a stage—especially when it’s unexpected and riveting, or in some cases, mind-blowing and crash-filled. The most obvious disadvantage of this is that you may be up very late the night before teaching this class in order to create your ride with all the fresh results. You also can’t really promote a specific stage very much in advance if you’re teaching stages during the Tour de France in July. In that case, you can simply promote your class like “This Friday, come ride a mountain stage of the Tour de France (stage TBD)!”

However, if you’re leading these classes outside of the current Tour—which I heartily recommend—then it doesn’t matter and a stage describing the actual results is the best option.

In 2021, I had originally planned on doing a profile to a different stage but the result of stage 2 was simply too dramatic to pass up; plus it was the day after several massive crashes had marred the Tour, including the incident with the young German tourist knocking over a bunch of key riders with her cardboard sign saying hi to her grandparents. But I loved the fact that there was a whole fascinating story that went with the stage winner and his famous grandfather. That has become one of my favorite TDF stages to teach. You can find that stage profile here

To prepare for this year’s 2023 Tour, I knew I wanted to do stage 1 or 2 in the Basque Country of Spain but was not sure which one to prepare for. I have some excellent Spanish music to use for the playlist, so a while ago I started to collect songs I wanted to use. (This is one way you can reduce the time spent creating a last-minute stage—start collecting possible song options in advance.) Both routes had some good climbs and as it turns out, both had drama and breakaways, but stage 2 had an unexpected finish that made for a perfect indoor cycling profile. So after many hours of putting this ride together…I am delighted to share stage 2 of the 2023 Tour de France with you now. My class loved it! It has the expected breakaway and an unexpected dramatic finish—I give you everything you need to cue this challenging and fun stage. You can download the profile and playlist below—I’ve just saved you many hours of prep time so you can be the hero of your class with an exciting stage! You’re welcome, de nada, and de rien

I’ll be doing one or two more stages for this year’s Tour so keep your eyes open. Looking a few stages ahead, my next profile will be stage 9, which promises to be an epic battle up the famed, extremely steep Puy de Dome, a dormant volcano in the center of the country that hasn’t been used for a Tour stage since 1988—35 years. It hasn’t erupted since 4,040 BC, but that may change soon!

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