Welcome to the first ever edition of Le Tour Dispatch! Our very French, very packed daily Tour de France content package. There is SO MUCH we are excited to share with you, more content than you can shake a bidon at, including history, cuisine, drinks, songs, French language lessons, short and snappy stage recaps and loads more. It's enough to brighten up even the dullest of transition stages (if any stage of Le Tour can really be described as 'dull').
Today's first post will do two things: (1) prepare you for stage 1, with our preview section, and (2) introduce you to the format for the rest of Le Tour, along with the team members who will be bringing you this content.
We are working hard to keep you all entertained and informed, and we really hope you enjoy what you read. If you'd like to support the site at any point you can buy us a coffee, head to the writebikerepeat.com shop (LAUNCHING SOON!) to have a browse and pick up an item or two, or subscribe as a free or paying member of the writebikerepeat crew. We'd love to have you on board.
Without further ado, allow me to introduce the regular segments we'll be featuring - there will always be a menu at the top of the page in case you enjoy a particular segment and don't have much time, or just enjoy jumping around in a random order (who doesn't?). Alternatively, read from top to bottom and consume this great, big, joyous celebration of La Grande Boucle on a daily basis, because I promise you it will be worth it. Today though for the guided tour, let's jump right in at the top.
PRÉPAREZ VOS MUSETTES!
def: prepare your musettes!
purpose: we cannot go out into the big wide world of the Tour without first doing our homework. This section contains preview information about the following day's stage - it will include history, culture and local cuisine, and occasionally a prediction or two.
Cuisine du Jour
def: the dish of the day
purpose: designed to introduce you to the food of the local region, this segment will give a flavour of what's to come on the next day's stage. Let's start at the very beginning...
Stage 1 – Bilbao – Bilbao (182km, hills)
There's a distinctly punchy stage in prospect for the riders on day 1 of the Tour, and to reflect this I've selected a dish that sounds as snappy as it tastes: bacalao pil-pil
An iconic Basque dish, 'bacalao' means cod fish. Fried with garlic and olive oil, the name of the dish is onomatopeoic, meant to represent the sound the skin makes as it gets crispy and begins to pop.
Yes, it's a food that literally pops, much like the riders are going to have to do tomorrow, delivering punchiness by the bucketload as they tackle the spikily-named Côte de Pike, the final challenging test before the run-in to the line.
The first yellow jersey is always hotly contested and the front-runners in this banging battle include the headline acts - Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert, Tom Pidcock, Biniam Girmay and Julian Alaphilippe - with the less obvious - it could be a good day for Michael Woods, Benoit Cosnefroy or maybe even a young Slovenian chap called Pogačar, should he decide to try and make a very early statement on day 1.
Lena’s Amuse Bouche
def: bite-sized appetisers served before a main meal
purpose: introducing you to the region we are visiting, Lena Koch will share local knowledge including sports, history and culture.
Stage 1 - Bilbao
I‘m sure many of you expect me to mention Bilbao’s local football club and stadium. Obvious and certainly valid. Football is the most popular sport in Bilbao.
However, let me introduce you to the Bilbao Baskets and their stadium the Bilbao Arena. Because besides football, Bilbao is also a bit basketball mad.
The club currently resides in the second Spanish division after losing the Basque derby in 2018.
You know of my love for railways, cable cars and other modes of transport. So of course I have to introduce you to something special:
Puente de Vizcaya/Bizkaiko Zubia
This bridge was opened in 1893 and provides a way over the Nervion River.
Now when I say bridge I don’t mean a traditional bridge you can drive a car over. I’m speaking of a suspension bridge.
Never heard of it? If you’re going by foot you can simply cross the bridge at all times. However if you want to cross with a car or simply experience something more exciting use one of the gondolas.
Gondolas, you ask? Indeed, a gondola crosses the 164 metres every 8 minutes at river level and brings the passengers to the other side.
It was recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2006.
APRÈS L'EFFORT, LE RÉCONFORT
def: after the effort, the comfort
purpose: taking a sideways look back at the day's action, to reflect, reconcile and remember
Speedy Stage Takeaway
The stage recap you won't read on any of the other sites. Instead of rehashing 6 hour's of coverage we'll sum up the key points in a variety of ways - from the concrete (top 5's, emojis) to the abstract (haikus, artistic impressions). You'll remember everything that happened, and have time for drinks after. Speaking of which...
I'd like a word
Stage 1 in one word. Stage 2 in two. You get the drift.
I need a drink!
Make no mistake, the Tour de France is a stressful time for everyone. Including those of us sitting at home watching. Stine Momo Agerbæk will be our resident mixologist, presenting a drink that reflects the day's action to settle the nerves. Let's hear from her:
'This will be a recurring segment where you will get stage reactions disguised as beverage suggestions.
'For now there’s not much to react to, so today’s drink is basically just a huge glass of water before the mayhem of the next 3 weeks start. Have another one, hydration is key also for the excited fan, busy journalist or “Oh F***, the Tour is tomorrow” hit DJ.'
Axel Zingle’s What3Words
Our very special guest for this year's Tour, the Cofidis rider will provide impressions of the day's action, distilled down into just three words. He has provided us already with his feelings, going into the race, on his debut appearance at Le Tour.
Vive la Lanterne Rouge
Bigging up the late arrivals - we will spotlight the rider who comes in last every day, offering some information about the riders who haven't been featured as they aren't front and centre, while speculating on their tardiness.
noun: the refuelling
purpose: features to enhance your Tour experience, and refresh your mind after a long day's cycling viewing
Stat du Jour
Where would you get to if you rode the distance of the day's stage, from New York? How many swimming pools could you fill, if you emptied out the total volume of one team's bidons from the entire Tour? Well, you might not find out the answers to these questions, but this is the sort of thing you can expect from our resident statto Sam: a random statistic, every day, for you to enjoy.
Bands of Brothers
Cycling is a team sport, and although trade teams have long since supplanted national teams at the Tour, it's still interesting to watch the progress of the riders from different nations throughout the race.
There are 27 nations represented at this year's Tour, and coincidentally, 21 of them have two or more riders. Each day, we'll take a look at a different nation, evaluate their chances of success and throw in a random fact or two, and add to our 'National Standings' chart to see if numerical advantage translates to more stage wins.
This segment will provide a dedicated link to Justdiggit, Gino's charity of choice - the charity have set up a specific project in Gino's memory - please consider donating to them, during the Tour.
Pardon my French
Of course, many of you reading will be fluent in the beautiful native tongue of Le Tour, but I suspect plenty of us are not. Our resident Frenchman Mathieu Fraisse will guide us through some new vocabulary throughout the three weeks of the Tour, so you'll have no excuse next time you visit.
YéYé, c'est Le Tour de France 2023
Aaaand we’re back. Is it just me or did the month between the end of the Giro and the start of the Tour disappear as quickly as poor Rune Herregodts’ advantage on the first stage of Dauphiné? (...so far too quickly and very very unfairly…)
The Tour is happening and so is this mixtape! Strap in, it’ll be a befittingly bumpy ride!
So while we get ready for Stage 1, here’s a few warmup selections:
1: Science Fiction/Double Feature - Richard O’Brien (The Rocky Horror Picture Show OST)
TdF 2023 is billed as an action-packed double feature prize fight between Vingegaard & Pogačar and WvA & MvdP… with a whole cast of exciting heroes and monsters alongside them. So no better opening track than this. So welcome to the show! (I want to go!)
2: Quelle Histoire - Jeanne Moreau
This playlist is named after the French 60s pop genre YéYé (...adapted from YeahYeah) and in my opinion it’s a perfect summer soundtrack genre.
The best description for I’ve ever seen of it was “...playfully risqué lyric content, filled with sexual innuendo, double entendre and deadpan humour”, which could also be a description of Adam Blythe’s commentating style which I’m excited to spend the next weeks alongside.
3: Boys (Summertime Love), Extended version - Sabrina
Name a better combo than summertime & bikeboys? I won’t even wait, because there IS nothing better.
4: Hit ‘Em High (The Monstars’ Anthem) - Coolio, LL Cool J, Method Man, Busta Rhymes, B-Real (Space Jam OST)
Don’t try to tell me this isn’t the perfect theme song for all the top tier of the competitors getting ready to rumble… Lightnin' strikes and the court lights get dim - Supreme competition is about to begin!
The only debut team at the 2023 Tour de France, and the first Norwegian team ever at the race, Uno-X will be the writebikerepeat team of the Tour. We'll track their progress, cheer them on, and generally embrace the Scandi new boys as they no doubt attack the race with the vim and vigour that is their trademark. LET'S GO!
def: The bits and bobs, the shiny things, the small treasures that would otherwise go unnoticed.
purpose: Here is a space for them all to thrive. You can get involved and interact with some of the features here too, so don't be shy. (This section may evolve as the Tour goes along and Katy remembers the 486 random ideas she's had over the past few months).
Are you visiting a stage of Le Tour this year? If so, this is your chance not only to show your photography skills to the world, but also to win a prize courtesy of Jen's Cycling Art. Just drop me a message and send across your best shots, and those selected will feature in a gallery of the day's best photography. Spread the word and get those cameras honed and ready!
Rider doing something they’re not supposed to be doing of the day
You know the sort of thing I mean - Remco Evenepoel carrying an egg in his pocket, Neilson Powless riding into a bush, Filippo Ganna sprinting. Just for fun.
Tweets of the Day
Does what it says on the tin! The team will be keeping their eye out for funny content on Twitter and we'll feature one or two of the best for everyone to enjoy.
The Ultimate Question
To finish the day, a chance to interact by thinking about a question relating to the day's action - who was your MVP? Who did you spot hiding in the bunch saving themselves for another day? What was the best costume? You can comment on the posts every day below, or get involved in the chat on Twitter or Instagram.