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TOUR DE FRANCE

‘Highest in history’: Discover the route for the 2019 Tour de France

Tour de France organisers threw down the gauntlet to the climbing specialists when they unveiled the "the highest Tour in history" for a 2019 edition featuring a record 30 mountain passes and five summit finishes.

'Highest in history': Discover the route for the 2019 Tour de France
Photo: Tour de France website
With a nod to Belgian legend Eddy Merckx, the 2019 Tour begins in Brussels on July 6 and ends 3,460km later on the Champs Elysees in Paris on July 28, the opening and closing stages about as flat as it gets on the 106th edition.
   
After Belgium, the Tour heads into the hilly Massive Central region, then down to the Pyrenees before culminating with three consecutive days in the Alps between stages 18-20.
   
Fans with a taste for classic climbs will not be disappointed, with the Tourmalet, La Planche des Belles Filles, the Col d'Izoard, the Col du Galibier and the Montee de Tignes all on a menu featuring a record 30 mountain passes and five summit finishes.
   
“This is the highest Tour in history,” Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said Thursday.   Marketed as the Centenary of the official introduction of the yellow jersey, in 1919 — an innovation for roadside fans to identify the race leader — next year's edition “is a way of paying hommage to the yellow jersey,” 
added Prudhomme.
 

   
“Combining that with the 'Grand Depart' in Brussels is a wonderful way to honour the man who best represents the image of the yellow jersey, cycling's greatest ever champion, Eddy Merckx,” Prudhomme said.
   
Although featuring seven mountain and five hilly (or medium mountain) stages, there is also room for seven supposedly flat stages that are best suited to the sprinters.
 
“We are virtually guaranteed wind on one of those and confident there will be wind on a second one too,” said Prudhomme.
 
Asked where that left the sprinters, Prudhomme said cycling's fast men were too proud to let a few hills stand in their way.
 
Photo: AFP
   
“Mark Cavendish, the greatest sprinter in Tour history, showed last year the attitude our sprinters have,” he said.
   
Cavendish last year was one of several sprinters to struggle through a difficult mountain stage only to be eliminated after missing the time cut, missing out on the chance to reach the final sprint stage in Paris.
   
“The Champs Elysees is still the most mouth-watering sprint on the cycling calendar and they all want to get there,” he explained.
 
Only a great climber can win
 
With an abundance of potentially decisive mountain stages, the scope for stealing time from rivals during long time trials has been limited.
   
Next year's edition features a 27km-long team time-trial on stage two around the city centre of Brussels and just one other, individual time trial over 27km on stage 13 on undulating terrain around Pau.
   
“The planning here means it is impossible to win this Tour unless you are a great climber,” Prudhomme said.
   
“There are also time bonuses at strategic climb points to encourage riders to attack at key moments, with the hope that someone will make a bid for a stage win and even the yellow jersey where you might not expect that,” he said.
 
Britain's Geraint Thomas during a celebratory homecoming event following his victory in the Tour de France cycling race. Photo: AFP   
 
“Last year (Team Sky's) Geraint Thomas was the one who went chasing after the bonus seconds the most and he won the Tour. This was no accident,” Prudhomme said.
   
Route designer Thierry Gouvenou, however, said he felt Thomas's teammate and four-time champion Chris Froome may be stronger next year.
   
“Of the two of them I'd say Froome was better equipped on this type of route,” he said when pressed on the issue.
 
“Froome remains an iconic leader for Sky, and Thomas has found his Holy Grail'.”
 
 

Member comments

  1. so they will not be coming near our beautiful plateau des glieres nest year.. never mind it is still there for you all to discover… every season has somthing special about the Plateau.. just ask us.. we have been going there for 30 years and it is still very special..

  2. With so many difficult climbs for the sprinters, I wonder who the ‘iconic’ Paris sprint will feature. If it is anything like this year, it is unlikely there will be few ‘true’ sprinters. Perhaps Prudhomme and Co. need to reconsider the cut off times in the mountains.

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SPORT

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.

MAP: Details of 2022 Tour de France (and Denmark) revealed

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.

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