VIDEO: Discover the route for the 2018 Tour de France

The route for the 2018 Tour de France was revealed on Tuesday and it promises to be a punishing one. Find out which parts of France it will take in.

VIDEO: Discover the route for the 2018 Tour de France
Photo: AFP
The race, which starts on the picturesque island of Noirmoutier off the Vendee coast on July 7, lacks a long, flat individual time trial where four-time winner Chris Froome often pulverises opponents.
Six mountain stages and four hilly stages are packed into the latter part of the Tour before it ends on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on July 29.
Such relentless hill and mountain terrain may well grind down Froome's protective entourage who have so successfully snuffed out attacks in recent Tours.
On top of that, teams will feature just eight riders in 2018 rather than the usual nine, leaving the Briton less protected by his Sky teammates than he has been used to.
The 2018 route for the world's most prestigious cycling race is basically split into two sections.
The first is largely flat but features a series of potentially punishing challenges.
They include a 35-kilometre (22-mile) team time trial on day three on windswept plains, then a Brittany run to the pretty seaside town of Quimper on day five featuring ten hills.
The route designers have also built in two ascents of the feared Mur de Bretagne the day after stage nine featuring a fabled cobbled road to Roubaix.
Breathless 12 days
When asked if the 2018 route would be tough for Sky captain Froome, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said all the riders taking part were champions.
“But the winner will need the stamina to roll through windy plains and do well in the team time-trial, he'll need to be able to resist the cobbles and have enough steam to get through all the mountains,” Prudhomme told reporters.
“I know of a few such specimens from the Netherlands and from Britain,” he joked, without naming Froome or the 2017 Giro d'Italia winner Tom Dumoulin by name.
Tour designer Thierry Gouvenou said the switch between the two sections “is perhaps the greatest challenge of this Tour”.
After a rest day on which the riders fly from the north coast to Annecy, there follows three visually stunning Alpine mountain stages, four hilly stages and three Pyrenean mountain stages inside a breathless 12 days.
Many of France's great mountains will feature, such as the Alpe de Huez and the Col de Tourmalet.
But the two key mountain challenges are a brutal, uphill 31km individual time trial with gradients up to one percent, and a short 65km 17th stage featuring 38km of climbs to a summit finish at the Col de Portet, the first time it has been included in the race.
Portet is also the highest summit, at over 2,000 metres, ever to feature on a Tour de France.
Gouvenou said team strategy would be crucial.
“There's only eight riders per team so it's a real strategic decision between the rollers and the climbers.
“And there are a few other surprises hidden in there along the way,” he promised.


Inaugural Women’s Tour de France to start at Eiffel Tower

The route for the inaugural women's Tour de France was unveiled on Thursday with eight stages, embarking from the Eiffel Tower on July 24th next year.

French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race.
French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race. Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP.

The first complete edition of the women’s version of cycling’s iconic race starts on the day the 109th edition of the men’s Tour ends.

After a route that winds through northern France, the race culminates in the Planche des Belles Filles climb in the Vosges mountains.

Danish cyclist Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig said she was over the moon to be taking part.

“I want it to be July now so we can get stared,” she said actually jumping up and down.

“The Tour de France is a reference and when you say you are a cyclist people ask about that. Now I can say I race the Tour de France,” she said after the presentation.

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Race director Marion Rousse, a former French cycling champion and now a TV commentator, told AFP it would be a varied course that would maintain suspense over the eight days.

“It is coherent in a sporting sense, and we wanted to start from Paris,” she said of the 1,029km run.

“With only eight stages we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.

“The stages obviously are shorter for the women than for the men’s races. The men can go 225 kilometres. For the women the longest race on our roster is 175km and we even needed special dispensation for that,” she said. “But it’s a course I love.”

Christian Prudhomme, the president of the Tour de France organisers, was equally enthusiastic.

“The fact it sets off from Paris the day the men’s race ends gives the new race a boost because it sets the media up to follow it more easily.

“It also means that with the Tour de France starting on July 1st and the women’s race ending on the 31st, there will be cycling on television every day of July.”

The men’s race is broadcast in around 190 countries.