A quick look at each of the Tour de France stages. If there’s a theme to this year’s route it’s variety with short stages, long ones, sprints, cobbles, new summit finishes and more.
Stage 1 – Saturday 7 July
A long stage and the first half runs along the Atlantic coast. It’s a summer’s day it’ll be tense but if it’s wet and windy it could be a very fraught day. A sprint royale awaits among the best sprinters finally reunited in one race with the hallowed yellow jersey waiting for the winner.
Stage 2 – Sunday 8 July
One for the sprinters as the Tour borrows roads from smaller French races like the Chrono des Herbiers and the Tour de Vendée.
Stage 3 – Monday 9 July
A 35km team time trial to shape the general classification rather than set it in stone but the recent Critérium du Dauphiné will be on the mind. It’s all on rolling roads to suit the most powerful of teams.
Stage 4 – Tuesday 10 July
195km and almost an out-and-back course the starts on the coast before looping back, and all on the roads of cycling-mad Brittany so expect huge crowds whatever the weather.
Stage 5 – Wednesday 11 July
Game over for the sprinters with a hard stage across the western point of Brittany. Even if the weather is clement this is a hard day with a rough and tough finish on small roads and sharp climbs and even a few cobbles en route. The overall contenders will have a busy day here.
Stage 6 – Thursday 12 July
The race returns to Mûr-de-Bretagne and its tricky uphill finish, this time climbed twice in the finish. For sticklers note the stage finishes at Mûr, rather than on because it is a town rather than a “wall” climb.
Stage 7 – Friday 13 July
A sprint on Friday 13th, what could go wrong? Actually in France it’s a lucky day when lottery sales boom and this is longest stage of the race.
Stage 8 – Saturday 14 July
The stage passes to the West of Paris and the Seine valley before heading north to the Somme and a flat finish in Amiens on Bastille Day.
Stage 9 – Sunday 15 July
15 cobbled sectors including many from Paris-Roubaix. If they’ve trimmed the hardest sections, for example Mons-en-Pévèle is reduced from 3,000 to 900m it’s still plenty and much more than the usual handful of sectors borrowed when the Tour has ventured onto the pavé before, the last 100km are going to be hectic.
Stage 10 – Tuesday 17 July
A rest day and then a brutal change in rhythm from the cobbles to the cols and a hard stage complete with the Plateau de Glières, hyped because of its gravel section, hard because of the climb to get there. Then a tough finish awaits with the “col” de Romme and the Colombière before a fast descent to the finish.
Stage 11 – Wednesday 18 July
An air of déjà vu with the same route as June’s Critérium du Dauphiné stage won by Pello Bilbao and at just 108km an attack fest to watch from start to finish to enjoy the sport and the scenery.
Stage 12 – Thursday 19 July
A classic day in the Alps with the Madeleine, the Croix de Fer and then the famous hairpins of Alpe d’Huez and the packed crowds.
Stage 13 – Friday 20 July
The peloton turns its back to the Alps to the delight of the sprinters although they’ll need to watch out for the Monts du Matin, the chain of hills late on as there are some long ascents to expose anyone who has come out of the Alps with heavy legs and there’s a chance the Mistral wind gets up too.
Stage 14 – Saturday 21 July
A day for the breakaways, this is mid-mountain stage complete with the tough finish of the Croix Neuve to the Mende aerodrome.
Stage 15 – Sunday 22 July
Another day for the breakaways via the Montagne Noire before a finish in the Disney-style medieval city of Carcassonne. Watch out for the wind in the final too, the vent d’Autan, did plenty of damage in the recent Route d’Occitanie race.
Stage 16 – Tuesday 24 July
The plains and then the Pyrenees with three sharp climbs and a trip into Spain before a downhill finish into Bagnères-de-Luchon. Three climbs but arguably the descents are the significant points as they’re twisty and treacherous.
Stage 17 – Wednesday 25 July
Just 65km but 3,200m of vertical gain. Uphill from the start and with three hard climbs including the first ever summit finish on the Col du Portet high above Pla d’Adet where the gravel track has been resurfaced for the race to enable this high altitude finish.
Stage 18 – Thursday 26 July
A gourmet’s delight as the race passes many sources of gastronomic delight but it’s energy bars and gels for the riders before a sprint in Pau.
Stage 19 – Friday 27 July
A big day in the Pyrenees with plenty of climbing and descending, including the fast drop into the finish in Laruns at the foot of the Aubisque and past a vulture sanctuary, a warning for any nervous descenders although the route is subject to change given recent flood damage and there may not be time to complete the repairs.
Stage 20 – Saturday 28 July
A time trial around the Basque Country and much harder than the profile suggests, this is as much a test of freshness as it is power and pacing. There’s barely a metre of flat road, the descents twist and turn and the final climb of the Pinodieta is a steep wall. It’s still a course for a time trial bike but the riders will need to consider what gears to use and it suits the GC contenders much more than the pure TT specialists.
Stage 21 – Sunday 29 July
A parade that mutates into a criterium but and just 116km. After a suburban start past the dormitory suburbs of Paris the race heads for the swanky Saint Cloud and then the glories of central Paris and the evening finish on the Champs Elysées.