2019 Tour De France Route

The Tour de France presentation was unveiled and if we knew the start and finish and most of what came in between had leaked out there’s still a lot to digest with details of new climbs, potential rule changes and more.

Today’s presentation had two themes, the yellow jersey and Eddy Merckx. The 2019 Tour will commemorate 100 years of the yellow jersey but only loosely, for example there was talk of a stage to Grenoble where the first ever maillot jaune was awarded but a political quarrel seems to have zapped this; meanwhile ASO have kissed and made up with Eddy Merckx after a dispute a year ago but the route isn’t a Merckxian tribute, there’s no Luchon-Mourenx stage for example. In short the twin themes are light when it comes to the race itself… the real themes seems to be short distance mountain stages and high altitude.

The race begins with a likely sprint stage in Brussels via the Kapelmuur and then a 27km team time trial, 8.5km shorter than the 2018 version. On Stage 3 the Tour leaves Binche for Epernay, swapping Belgian beer for champagne as if to mark the race’s return to France and a likely stage for Peter Sagan. There’s more for the sprinters on Stage 4.

Stage 5 exploits the Vosges mountains with some sharp climbs like the Trois Epis, famous as a motorsport hill climb and which should thwart some sprinters.

Stage 6 is the first stage for the GC contenders with The Planche des Belle Filles as the first summit finish, all in Thibaut Pinot’s fiefdom. It’s now a familiar climb but with a twist this time, the finish will be higher than the usual place and via a gravel road making an already steep finish even harder. Tougher still is what precedes the climb, the Grand Ballon and Ballon d’Alsace climbs and then the approach via the vicious Col des Chevrères. Stage 7 is for the sprinters and at 230km, the longest in the race as the race picks up three stages on roads known to Paris-Nice and the Critérium du Dauphiné.

Stage 8 a scenic, lumpy ride through the Beaujolais before a finish in the industrial city of Saint Etienne. Stage 9 on Bastille Day goes to Brioude and the town where Romain Bardet grew up. A gift to him? It’ll be spun this way but Paris-Nice visited in 2013, it’s a useful stopping point. The passage through the Massif Central could be harder, there was talk of the Col du Béal, but it’s only the opening week and note the road to Brioude features an uncategorised climb of Saint Just, 3.5km at 7.5% and all on a narrow rural road. It’s followed by a stage and a rest day in the red-brick town of Albi and then Stage 11 to Toulouse is another likely sprint as well as picture-postcard images of the peloton passing fields of sunflowers.

Stage 12 sees the race enter the Pyrenees with the Col de Peyresourde and the tricky Hourquette d’Ancizan before the descent of the Aspin’s lower slopes to Bagnères de Bigorre and all within 117km.

Stage 13 is the only individual time trial and just 27km long, a loop around rolling roads south of Pau. It’s the least amount of time trial kilometres since 2015 and part of a trend but unlike recent years it comes before the high mountains rather than after them as we’ve seen in recent years in Marseille and Espelette. The same course will be lapped five times for La Course, a disappointing choice given the mountains on the horizon and that the women rarely get to race in the high mountains; last July’s La Course in the Alps was a great race.

Stage 14 is just 117km via the Col du Soulor to the Col du Tourmalet, a hard summit finish.

Stage 15 is the novelty route across Cathar country, the Port de l’Hers and Mur de Peguère are known quantities but the Prat d’Albis is a “new” climb and worthy of a climb from the Vuelta, a narrow road to nowhere with 11.8km at an average of 6.8% but with plenty of 9-10% slopes early on. Talking of the Vuelta, Stage 16 takes the race to Nimes which hosted the Spanish Tour’s start in 2017, and likely the result of one of ASO’s cross-selling initiatives: “host the Vuelta’s start and we’ll give you a stage of the Tour and a rest day on top” and as well as being a pleasant part of the world it’s flat but exposed to the Mistral wind. Stage 17 goes to Gap via the descent of the Col de la Sentinelle, not as scary as the Rochette descent used of late but still awkward and a good day for the breakaway.

Stage 18 has to be the Queen Stage. 207km and the Col de Vars, the Col de l’Izoard and the Col du Galibier – all well over 2,000m high – before a high speed descent into Valloire, 18km but it’ll take minutes and makes the Galibier a virtual summit finish.

Stage 19 and the high altitude theme continues with the 123km stage over the mighty Col de l’Iseran and then the steady climb to Tignes. The Iseran, aptly described by Antoine Blondin as a “liberal monarch”, is the king of the Alps as Europe’s highest paved mountain pass while also accessible and approachable. It starts at 1800m above sea level, roughly the same altitude where Alpe d’Huez tops out and then goes up for 13km at 7.5% to a hypoxic height of 2765m before a long, fast descent and the climb to Tignes, 7.4km at 7% before a final flat kilometre through the ski resort.

Stage 20 is the last chance to alter the GC with 130km over the scenic Cormet de Roselend via the Col du Meraillet (and not the Col du Pré) before using the Isère valley like a snowboarder down a halfpipe to take the climb up to Notre-Dame-du-Pré before the valley and then the long climb to Val Thorens, 33km at 5.5% but strip out the descents and much of it is a selective 7% or more. Then comes Stage 21, part parade, part glamour criterium.

The Verdict
It’s still a lap around France and the temptation is to exaggerate the differences. Still, the previous edition was Christian Prudhomme’s acoustic album: big on novelty and experimental ideas, whether the 65km mountain stage, the Breton coast, the Roubaix stage, the Glières gravel and the numerous secondary climbs used last summer. This is a return to more standard fare, swapping the backroads for the main roads, especially in the Alps where long, steady climbs like the Iseran, Tignes and Val Thorens feature. That said, short distance mountain stages may be the new normal these days but should still be noteworthy, Stage 14 is just 114km long and Stages 19 and 20 are both under 130km and should be lively. There’s supposedly more climbs than ever with 30 categorised ascents, but fewer HC climbs than last year. This is ASO’s subjectively labelling though, the race can tackle passes without a mountains competition mention. What’s undisputed is the altitude with seven passes over 2,000m in the race, in recent years there have been as few as two or three.

There’s even fewer time trial kilometres than last year and part of a trend. Partly they’re not a ratings hit but also the exchange rate between time trial stages and summit finishes has changed, a pure climber can often only hope to take seconds on a rival like Chris Froome or Tom Dumoulin on a summit finish while still losing a minute in a 27km time trial is quite easy.

The sprinters are well served with seven stages waiting for them, two fewer than 2018, assuming they can cope with the likely tough time cuts once again and there are five stages, like those to Colmar, Brioude or Gap that should reward breakaways and attacks for the likes of Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet et al.

Away from the course and there are relatively few transfers, several stages finishes and starts happen in the same place which should please riders and the attendant media alike and the press pack might enjoy the recurring wine themes along the way with the likes of Epernay, Turckheim, Villié-Morgon, Jurançon, Limoux and more along the way.

Christian Prudhomme declared he wants to ban power meters and that he wants to increase the time bonuses available. He’s probably asking for both in order to settle for the latter. You might remember the time bonus sprints from the first week of the 2018 Tour, they’ll be back for 2019 only throughout the three weeks of the race and so we can expect time bonuses atop mountain passes, eg on the Galibier and not just at the finish line. The UCI rules restrict in stage bonuses to 3-2-1 seconds respectively but ASO want to be able to award more time, perhaps 10 seconds but we’ll see if this happens and how this might influence the race.

As ever the presentation lists the start and finish towns and the likely route but the exact route, maps and timings should be published in May 2019.

117 thoughts on “2019 Tour De France Route”

  1. Time bonuses discourage long-range attacks because you can save yourself for the end and gain time with a big sprint (albeit uphill).

    It would be worth trying a ban on powermeters – it certainly can’t make the racing worse. Same with radios. Never going to happen, though.

    Considering the parcours available the Belgian stages are almost wilfully dull.

    What will undoubtedly be lacking – for the umpteenth year running – a long stage (over 230km) with many mountains (a GT winner should be able to do well on all kinds of stages); medium mountain stages; stages for puncheurs.

    As per usual, it’ll be lots of sprint stages and lots of mountain stages where they all queue up behind Sky.

    ASO has still yet to realise that variety is key. It’s predictably disappointing.

    Just think how dull that final mountain on the last mountain stage will be – 33km at 5.5% – it could have been designed for a team’s train to chug up it in formation. What were they thinking?

    Considering how Prudhomme seems keen for Sky not to win the race – good luck with that, buddy – that is a truly bizarre choice.

    But no matter what they do, a Sky rider will win having followed his incredibly expensive domestiques around France. Thrilling. And the inevitable result of not having a cap on spending – one team utterly dominates the race they want to win (the one with all the cash and publicity involved).

    • Regarding the final mountain being 33km at 5.5%, but with flatter bits – even at 7%, that’s nowhere near steep enough to get rid of the domestiques after a short stage, and they get a rest on the flat/downhill bits.
      A 230km stage with five big mountains in it might just result in the leaders being left on their own to fight it out mano a mano over many km. (Or they might dutifully queue up behind Sky like they always do – but you’ve got to at least give them the opportunity.)

      • If the Sky tridents are in good condition, the most likely scenario in a 230km stage with five big mountains in it will have a Sky dominance. Every team else on the GC group will be reduced to their leaders, and you are likely to see Bernal, Thomas & Froome all still in there.

        Sky would then burn Bernal to lift temple in the group on the last climb, in preparation for a Froome attack with 3-5km to go and Thomas ready to sprint on the line. Bernal may even be still there at the line after hiding in the group for a bit.

    • i dunno man, looks pretty tailored for a dumoulin – bardet – pinot showdown.

      in any event, it looks more rounded than anything in recent years. i’m optimistic.

      • It has the second least TT kilometers of the century. That probably means since they had time trials since there were regular many more last century. So its not rounded at all. Its an anti-time trial course. That was already tried to even worse excess in 2015. Who won that year? Prudhomme’s obsession with finding the course Bardet might actually win on is being taken to ridiculous lengths to satisfy a terminally grumpy French public.

        • woah uh all right, what i meant is that it balances the modern time trial specialist leaned out to climbing talent with the mountain uphiller-downhiller.

          so if we really “balanced it out” like 70s as we all wish it were, we know for sure it would be doumalin and froome and (probably) thomas racing the clock solo to win. balanced means weighing to top competitors strengths and how that will measure for time through different terrain, not 1000k of sprints, 1000k of time trialing, and 1000k of climbing.

  2. I only have one question: which Sky rider will win this time, Froome, Thomas or Bernal? They don’t really think going over 2,000 meters a lot and trying to ban power meters will stop them do they?

    • I feel bad for Bernal. Because you are going to be such a tedious bore about him I hope he doesn’t win anything. Which is harsh on him as he might be a really nice young man.

      • If it wasn’t Bernal, the gloryhunter would find someone else whose success he could piggyback on in an attempt to make himself feel better. I just wish he’d keep it to himself rather than presuming that the rest of us care – there being seemingly no post that Ron can’t make about one of his heroes.

  3. Banning power meters is not only ridiculous but also never going to happen with so much commercial interest. If you’re gonna ban power meters why not go back to steel framed fixed gears and ban team car assistance too!

    • Lots of technologies are banned in cycling – like many sports, it has a number of arbitrary rules. The primary purpose of these rules is to make the sport more entertaining.
      Suggesting that one of these technologies be banned is nothing like banning all technologies.
      (Otherwise, using your argument, you could say ‘they’ve banned bikes that allow more aerodynamic positions so they might as well all be on steel-framed fixed gears’, or ‘they’ve banned certain types of skinsuits so they should all be made to wear wool jerseys’.)

      • Your anonymous argument might have some weight if the person who most associate with power meters wasn’t also the guy who had this year ridden the most exciting win of the decade if not this century to date. Unless you want to say it was all down to power meters?

        Either way, its hogwash.

        • Your point, RonDe, has nothing to do with what I said. I was pointing out the faulty reasoning in suggesting that banning one technology means you must ban all technologies.
          I didn’t even weigh up the pros and/or cons of powermeters (my opinion, not that I think you’re interested being that banning them might improve the sport).
          Your anonymous (unless that’s the name you go by in real life, like Bono or Jay-Z) argument seems to stem from a fervent zeal to defend a hero whose name I did not besmirch – nor even mention.

          • You seem to labour under the illusion that the sport’s rules are to make it “entertaining”, You even say this is the “primary reason”.

            1. Where does it say that?
            2. Were this year’s races not “entertaining”?
            3. Has racing been noticeably less entertaining since power meters were invented?

            I suggest you can objectively demonstrate none of these things. So my judgment of “hogwash” still stands. Its not what equipment you have. Its how riders choose to race. They aren’t all suddenly going to change into guys who attack with 80kms to go. Every race will not suddenly become a toe to toe epic. Wake up.

          • RonDe, I didn’t say ‘the sport’s rules’, I said the rules that ban certain technologies.
            What purpose does a rule that bans a certain technology have other than for entertainment purposes, unless it’s for safety?

            As everyone can read above, nowhere have I claimed that powermeters make racing more dull. Nor have I claimed that this year’s races were dull – because of powermeters or otherwise.

            In fact, you haven’t argued against a single point that I’ve actually made.

          • “The rules that ban certain technologies” (your words) aren’t “the sport’s rules” (also your words)?

            Then who’s rules are they?

            The only rules there are are the rules of the UCI and they are the sport’s rules. So either you’re being disingenuous or you’re trolling or both. And if, as you now admit, power meters don’t make races less entertaining (“nowhere have I claimed that powermeters make racing more dull. Nor have I claimed that this year’s races were dull”) then what exactly are you blathering about?

            The fact remains that you seemingly wish to ban power meters but now on the basis of nothing at all since you concede it hasn’t made racing worse or affected entertainment levels. What a bizarre and empty argument.

          • If you repeatedly can’t understand what I have written there’s no point in continuing a discussion. Deliberately or otherwise you have entirely misrepresented what I have said.

        • Dude, you’re definitely not the one to decide what’s the ride of a century. Cause you obviously have no idea about the history of the sport and what happend in a century

          • Without taking sides it’s pretty obvious that Ronde is referring to this century, i.e. since 2001. So ‘ride of the 21st century so far’. Dude.

    • Well, there is a “no pacing” rule somewhere, at least when hour record is concerned. I remember reading somewhere that a French early effort was disqualified because they had a light beam going around the track indicating to the cyclist how fast he should go (it is however quite a technical wonder, keeping that light moving at constant speed going through straight and bends).

      That said, the power meter doesn’t exactly tell you how fast you can go and it may not technically violate that rule depending on how the said rule is written. And again, I’m not sure if such rule applies to road racing.

  4. Very disappointing course again. What is it with theses short mountain stages? I understand one being added, but virtually all of them? How is a rider like Nibali supposed to excel here? I hope he goes to the Giro next year because surely the course will be much more appealing to him. The stage in the Vosges is the most interesting one, the Alps predictable, Pyrenees a huge disappointment. Stage 12 is a complete joke, not only is it short, it has two not too difficult climbs but the descent from the Hourquette via Aspin at the end? Really? What are they thinking will happen there with 17 km at 3% downhill?

    • There is very little, in my subjective, amateur opinion, that encourages hard core doping more than a long, high, HC stages. Everyone is still cheating to some degree I imagine. But, you can’t ask for a clean peloton and expect them to continue to set records in super human stages.

        • Yes, of course. My point was that, in cycling, there is not only doping to win, but doping just to keep your job and last through the first 15 stages of a GT. The longest, highest, steepest stages are where the best cheaters excel. If the peloton is cleaner, or, most everyone is cheating just a little less effectively because of more effective testing, the stages we’ve been used are unrealistic. I think Prudhomme might be considering this.

          If everyone were absolutely clean, and the Tour was just as grueling as ever, imagine what that would really look like.

          • You only have to dope to keep your job if others are also doping or you’re not good enough. So, the key is to improve anti-doping, not make races shorter.
            What evidence is there that more difficult races lead to more doping?
            In the 1980s pre-1988 the Tour usually had >4,000km; 1988 to 1990 the Tour had about 3,200-3,500km. And yet EPO use started in about 1988. It had nothing to do with the distances of the race being shorter.
            To answer your last question, the same, but a bit slower?

  5. A TdF (or any GT) without power meters or race radios would be a dream come true. Regardless, this will be a spectacle. I’m sure I’ll follow it.

    • Not quite sure about that when Sky still emerge dominating. Might as well say that Sky has to race with one less rider, or Froome had to rider a heavier bike (which he sort of already did by riding a heavier Pinarello).

  6. ASO’s yearly attempt to design a course that finally stops Sky continues. This year’s gimmick is high altitude and an attempt ban equipment and add in bonus seconds they might not get. What a farce!

    Still, I hear Movistar are a shoo-in for the team prize! Bravo Senor Unzue!

    • How is high altitude a gimmick to stop Team Sky? Team Sky spends the most amount of time training at altitude and their future star (Bernal) is from altitude… A route to stop Team Sky and favour a Frenchman (eg. Bardet) would include LESS altitude climbs.

      The aspect that they put in to make the outcome more unpredictable are the shorter stages. But, from a practical standpoint, most riders spend 30-60 minutes warming up on trainers/rollers for these stages so doesn’t that effectively add 35-40km to the day’s stage – so we should take the distance markings with a grain of salt and don’t judge them as easy.

      Once again, this is going to be exciting and a very hard Tour.

      • No route is going to stop Sky. Even teams of 5 probably wouldn’t stop Sky. Only limiting money could do so.
        There hasn’t been an exciting GC race since 2011: every year since then, there’s barely been a contest.

    • Or maybe so that other teams would have more riders left, or there is less time to chase down an opportunitist break as Contador was wont to carry out.

  7. As usual, INRNGs synopsis of the Tour route at this early stage after its release is by far the best of all sources out there. Thanks for sharing. Good to have you back and hope you had a great trip to Japan.

    As for this (perhaps unanticipated) power meter debate…I’ll vote no power meters. What the hell. Give it a try and see what happens.

  8. Would have preferred 2x 27km ITTs rather than a TTT and an ITT. But glad to see more uphill finishes and less downhill finishes. The ban power meters thing is usual ASO bullshit. Not a big fan of time bonuses either; would prefer to see successive medium mountain stages where there is a chance that fatigue would see an unset or two.

  9. I’m not sure about it being an anti-Froome / Sky course, more an anti-RCS course perhaps?
    As Thomas has alluded to, it offers plenty to the Sky contenders whilst at the same time there’s still enough of a challenge to them also that will encourage rivals.
    Pinot could do well on this course for instance, whilst it doesn’t wholly inhibit Dumoulin.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the 2019 Giro route compares.
    Maybe we need to look at both respective courses in tandem now, after the historic modern Tour / Giro double attempt by Froome and Dumoulin?
    Though I can’t imagine Froome will try that again.
    So perhaps this is ASO ensuring that its party has the hottest tickets in town; it seemed a little stale after the Giro got there first this year.

    • ASO would love a French winner and this is as close as they can reasonably get to assisting that objective. They won’t succeed as on almost any terrain the best riders (Bardot, Pinot, and maybe Latour, Alaphilippe) will still lose time to the best riders and teams in the TT & TTT – despite reinforcement for TTTs – while doing no more than matching the best climbers on the summit finishes.

      Is it a course for S Yates? TTT in which Mitchelton won’t lose much time, 27km ITT with over 300m of climbing, and some short, sharp climbing stages? MTS might well leave the Giro for Chaves and A Yates.

      Finally when will Froome (34 next July) and Thomas (33) start to fade? Bernal was only 21 this year, can TT better than most, can climb with the best and will improve. Will Sky send him to the Giro or Vuelta as leader to avoid embarassing Froome and Thomas in July

  10. I like the altitude, it might give the climbers a chance. But the lack of proper mountain stages is disappointing ! These mini mountain stages might have their uses but you need to tire people a bit to create gaps.

  11. in principle i don’t like time bonuses as they corrupt the principle of the sport but when we have seen such small differences in the mountains something is required to reward attacking. a time bonus on the penultimate summit or the final summit before a descent to the finish should encourage riders to try attacking a bit earlier and hold the gap to the finish. i suspect 3 seconds is probably not enough though

    i doubt power meters make a lot of difference, these guys know how hard they are riding, the key thing is still how hard you are able to ride. what we’ve seen is a change in tactics from attacking see who breaks first to sky riding steady pace confident that they stronger than the others.

    i’m no particular fan of TTs but this route does seem unbalanced. the best races feature an balance between different types of rider/tactic eg san remo with the attackers vs the sprinters or indeed the finestre this year. make the climbers attack in the mountains knowing they have to make up time against the TTers. the issue is that mountain stages have become more like mixed-team TTs with steady pace riding and minimal time gaps – shake them up with innovations like the bonus time rather than blaming and removing TTs

  12. I’ve still yet to hear a single convincing argument that time bonuses make for more exciting racing. So the plan is for Thomas to sit on a teammate’s wheel until 500 metres to go and then surge ahead and be rewarded? C’est magnifique!

    • Bonus seconds: I would suggest that if you know you can’t sprint as well as others, but you can climb, it gives you an incentive to try to take things in to your own hands and attacker earlier.

      On a different thought, I seem to think that Thomas is a better sprinter than Froome, at the same time, the higher altitude favors the columbians, so for example Bernal.

      On power meters, I think it would be interesting to try a race without them, it is rather bold of the ASO to try in the the TDF instead of the dauphine or Paris-Nice. I wouldn’t be a fan of banning them from most races.

    • Augie, I understand Prudhomme wants to be able to give more bonus seconds than just 3-2-1 at intermediate points. Imagine if it was 20, the amount most GC guys can usually hope to get these days on mountain top finishes since the best are seemingly so evenly matched. Getting one of these bonuses would then be like winning a stage in terms of time. It is, I think, fixing the race a little, making it more artificial (and more artificial than a power meter ever will), twisting it in order to get an outcome you prefer.

      I wonder greatly about the ethics of that. Is it for race organisers to try and influence the outcome of a race? These days so much seems to be done knowingly, to hamper some and help others. It leaves a nasty taste as it does when people cheer things they think will hamper riders and teams they don’t like or cheer things they think will help those they do like. Race organisers should just try to construct challenging and general all round good courses. Variation from year to year is fine within certain parameters. I’m not sure where bonus seconds fit into that but most organisers seems to include them. I doubt they ever stop the best rider/team in the race winning though which is why increasing them in the hope they might just makes the idea look more like naked interference to manufacture a result. No one should be in favour of that.

      • Again though, not to repeat myself, rather than “evening the field” couldn’t this just extend the lead of the strongest rider? Look at Thomas this year, how would doubling his reward made the race any better? Intermediate bonuses might be fine for the sprinters and something to liven up an otherwise dull transition day, but the GC race should be decided on real time, not fake time in my view.

  13. Weighing into the powermeter debate, I’d bet race radios would have a bigger impact on race outcomes than powermeters (in terms of pulling back breaks, knowing who is up the road etc etc), as would drafting behind TV motorbikes (particularly when one of their fellow countrymen is on the tellybox).

    If I was ASO, I’d have a(nother) crack at those first. For those concerned about safety, why not just make the radios “open source” and only for official safety announcements or “urgent” safety announcements from team members or cars that are then immediately broadcast to all?

    I wonder if there’s enough here to tempt Pinot to have another crack.

    With all that altitude, I imagine the World Champ will give it a miss so Movistar’s line-up should be simpler to understand.

    Thanks @INRNG – great summary as always.

    • It was only one line from an hour’s presentation, people shouldn’t read too much into powermeters and any ban.

      As for Movistar, both Landa and Quintana will be licking their lips at the course, Valverde could likely get an appearance fee from RCS to ride the Giro which leaves Soler’s ambitions and to a lesser extent, Carapaz.

    • Doubt they will ban radios, riders claim having them makes if safer.

      And could you imagine the moaning every time the guy with the whiteboard gave them the wrong time gap or went missing? I wouldn’t be able to bear it.

      • Given you can send text messages to power meters they’d have to ban both otherwise the race radio rule could be partially circumvented.

    • I totally agree. Banning race radio would have a far greater impact than banning power meters – I’m a crap amateur and I know when I’m on the limit without needing to check!

        • Good point! I wonder if there was a bunch of complaining when they first introduced a vehicle into the peloton displaying time gaps for the break and the chasers? Gotta wonder what it was like before this – “Geez, how far up the road ARE those guys now? I guess we’ll just have to keep slogging along after them and find out.” What is the right amount of fog in the “Fog of War” idea? Some would say there should be none, with the entire thing controlled by instant information available constantly while old-farts like me think most of the fog is long-gone and wants at least some of it brought back. I think the debate should be “how much” rather than an either-or argument.

  14. Completely token effort on La Course, once again. Best thing female cycling can (try to) do is have a grand tour (or as much as sexist UCI rules will allow) that is entirely separate from men’s cycling. Better still if it’s in a country that doesn’t have a grand tour. I’d suggest Germany in June – doesn’t clash with the Giro or the Tour and Germany is still very cynical about male cycling (and maybe not female cycling)

    • Germany in June already has one of the oldest women’s tour. the Internationale Thüringen-Rundfahrt der Frauen No one would argue against making it even a bigger tour.

    • Women’s Tour of Britain would be one, it’s already one of the biggest and most popular Womens stage races, and doesn’t clash with any Mens Grand Tour, and I did hear organisers are keen to add days.

  15. Commemorating the great Eddy Merckx with this swipe of Belgian roads is pauvre, I find. If I was the ASO, I would do the full Monty; reinstating the complete route from back in 1969 (to the extend it is possible today) including prologue, split stages etc. Now, that, I believe, would be a spectacle to watch. (But they forgot to do it commemorating the first of Anquetil’s victories, so going with a Belgian as a first, is not going to happen.)
    Don’t we always wonder: “How would those riders have coped with todays ride?” This is, of course, not possible but go and see what today’s riders can do on those rides, that is possible. Of course not with vintage equipment leave that to randonneurs e.al., but with modern state of the art cycling equipment, what would happen on an already used parcours of the Grand Boucle?

  16. You can’t really blame ASO/Prudhomme/whoever you think is anti-Sky for trying to make an anti-Sky route. The Tour is boring because of Sky’s dominance, I don’t really think anyone can argue with that. Even though it’s a bit of a bullshit accusation as there is a TTT on Stage 2. I don’t really think this is an anti-Sky route. Froome, Thomas or Bernal (depending on who rides) could arguably be in yellow from Stage 2 and keep it for the rest of the Tour. If you wanted an anti-Sky route, you’d have no mountains, just sprint finishes as they don’t have a world class sprinter. But then, I wouldn’t be surprised if Moscon would transform into a World Class sprinter by July.

    I didn’t watch it this year because I knew exactly what would happen. Sky train on the mountains, 4 or 5 Sky riders left in a 8-10 man group etc etc… According to TV ratings, there are a lot of people that didn’t watch the Tour this year. It’s not the only reason, but the dominance of Sky is definitely one of the reasons why TV ratings went down in most countries. We’ll have to see if it’s a trend that continues. The only intrigue this year was whether Froome would overtake Thomas. No one really spoke of anyone else winning it.

    As for the accusation of ASO wanting a French winner, I go back to the TTT again. This year AG2R lost about 1.30 to BMC (Porte) and Sky (Froome, Thomas) and slightly less to other teams with some other favourites. If ASO wanted a French winner, they would not have put a TTT as again, Bardet could be 1mn down on some of the favourites by the end of day 2. FDJ have a better TTT team but Pinot will still lose time. And we’ve seen in recent years that the difference doesn’t come in the mountains but is done in the TTs.

    • +1 to Gargatouf. The only thing I have to add is CHAPEAU to ASO for their stand against power-meters. While I have no illusions a ban will actually happen, they continue to be almost the only adults in the room when it comes to governing pro cycling. The UCI should call the bluff of the riders who are saying they never look at theirs while racing. If that’s the case they won’t miss ’em at all if they’re banned. I’d hope they could ditch the radio earpieces at the same time but I’m not holding my breath. Vive LeTour and now let’s see the Giro d’Italia route for 2019.

    • The only viable “anti-Sky” route given current GT riders would be one with 100km of ITT so Dumoulin could put minutes into Froome and Thomas, then have more gradual climbs like the one to Val Thorens that suit the Dutchman’s diesel style. Of course there would be no room for Bardet in a route like this, so we shan’t expect a re-run of 2012 any time soon.

  17. The Tour de France route announcement always feels like that blind date your friend has set you up on. She (or he) is built up as being incredibly hot, interesting, funny, etc. Then she turns up and you are sitting there thinking, oh, this is disappointing.

    My biggest issue with the Tour is that they design stages knowing that modern riders are going to do nothing on them. You hear the retired riders who know what they are talking about saying “nothing will happen today because of the mountain (or time trial or whatever) stage tomorrow” or that there is always a headwind on this climb, meaning attacks are virtually pointless. Unfortunately, to make a spectacle all these things have to be considered.

    The one mercy is that they seem to have moved away from this push to minimise the number of mountain finishes to ensure an exciting/close finish. If you look at the 2018 Giro we had an incredible finish on a route where there was a ridiculous number of mountain stages. Had it been like a Tour route Yates would have won the three mountain stages and cruised to the finish in pink.

    • Do you think maybe the answer could be that rather than having a block of Sprint/flat stages and a block of Mountain stages to alternate them. That why you might not get so much of the “saving myself for tomorrow” attitude.

  18. Am i the only one thinking that this course might be targeted at tempting Simon (or even Adam) Yates to race it. Not much TTing, lots of climbing, and at altitude where they live. Seems to me they want the only non-Sky rider to win a Grand Tour since the Giro 2017 to give it a shot.

    • No need to tempt the Yates brothers. One or both would ride the Tour even if it skipped the Alps and Pyrenees completely. My guess is that Simon will lead this time as Adam led last time and Adam will go for the Giro Vuelta double.

  19. The Roubaix stage this year was a real highlight for me. It was great to see a race on that sort of parcours where there was a real fight all the way to the line for so many. So on the one hand I’m disappointed that this year won’t have one, but on the other hand I think it’s better as it represented such an injury risk for the GC guys that it felt a bit unfair.

    If you want prove a GC rider really is the best overall rider in the race then why not stick in a proper mountain TT. Something over 65km, with a couple of big climbs and a couple of descents to really test those two skills, that could go some way to strip out the Sky super domestique argument. That, and a more standard rolling TT along with other usual stages to show they’re good in cross winds, Ardennes style finishes etc, and facing mountains as a team would be ace.

  20. Those arguing against power meters seem not to object because they have made all races worse across the board but because they are perceived to have helped one team in particular win.

    But how true is that accusation?

    If they were banned but that team still won who would these people blame then?

    • Actually, most people who are arguing against powermeters are saying that riders should be able to judge their fatigue for themselves (and most probably can) and that getting rid of powermeters would restore a bit more of the human element (same argument with radios – and you can have a general radio for all riders for safety purposes), and that it might – only might – make races more interesting. I think almost no-one is suggesting that this would stop Sky from dominating the race.

      • Are races not interesting now? How interesting does a race need to be before it is judged interesting enough? If we get rid of power meters and radios and races are still judged “uninteresting” then what do we do then? Teams of five? Riders may only pedal with one leg? Handicap system? Riders have a time limit to reach a pre-determined point or they get no food?

        The whole mentality is wrong-headed to me. Just let them race. Its up to them to decide how with resources that are equally available to all. Those seeking to blame technology for something haven’t understood what they are watching properly.

  21. Mountain ITT would help show who is the best individual going up mountains without their team’s help. My money would be on Froome to win the stage, but it would give those with weaker teams a chance – and, crucially, without inventing anything bizarre to help certain riders. (If ASO did want to help Bardet and stop Sky, why do they have a TTT and a final mountain climb that is over 30km and not particularly steep? Both things clearly favour the strongest team.)

  22. I like the fact that there are a good number of stages over the high mountains, for me that is the best part of the Giro / Tour. I felt this year’s race lacked the high mountain element. Not so keen on the proliferation of short stages, fine as an occasional novelty but you can have too much of a good thing. Not sure how this course equates to an “anti Sky” course, surely longer climbs at altitude are going to favour their perceived style of riding and riders and perhaps Tom Dumoulin too. The old fashioned “mountain goat” would seem to be more at home on the sort of shorter steeper climbs typical of the Vuelta. It is the riders who make the race, not the designers of the course. Too many gimmicks will damage the race in the long run.

    I was a bit perplexed by a comment from Christian Prudhomme , saying that wind was certain to be a factor on some of the early stages, I wasnt aware ASO had control over the weather?

    As to the power meter thing, surely it is for the UCI to decide on the rules not race promoters?

  23. Well, whatever you think of the route: Pretty sure the rainbow jersey won’t take it.

    Open race, and I think maybe Nibali would be tempted to the tour again with this route?
    Froome, Dumo, (Bardet?), Quintana if he get’s the shit together, Mas even, Lopez. The NLs.
    Pinot as a wet dream.
    No way Thomas will beat a rested Froome or Dumolain.
    Bernal I hope will go to Giro but let’s see how those other routes pan out first. It’s best for him to win a Giro before the Tour, hehe.

    S. Yates will not handle the pressure in France in July, he seemed pressured and almost unbearable in Giro and Vuelta in the media after stages, even when he won, by the gods. IMHO, I might be terribly wrong.
    TdF is like 5 times media of the other GTs, as I understand.

    I think the chorus of hatred towards TdF during the years have colored fans, It’s usually more predictable yes, but take your shades off and there is some racing in there too.

  24. I’m a bit disappointed with this. Though I suppose the thinking is that this helps favour a particular sort of rider. The trend is of course to focus on climbers, minimise the effect of TTers. But the more you make these courses favour a particular type of rider the more you’ll struggle to differentiate between riders.

    Back in the 80s they never agonised in this same way. The TTers dominated the time trials and the climbers dominated in the mountains. TTers have always won, with the exception of Pantani, and that year was exceptional in many different ways. But why not set a course which favours heavier riders as much as it favours lighter climbers? Pick the course which causes an equal battle between different types. Calculate the gains from each – you’ll diversify the way in which riders win and that means you’re unlikely to get riders who are the same.

    It’s a bit hypothetical I know, but create a course which puts Tony Martin against Joaquin Rodriguez.

    • But in recent years we’ve seen the likes of Tom Dumoulin and especially Chris Froome put time into the likes of Tony Martin, and then match the climbers in the mountains. Put another way if you had 100km or 150km of time trials then Froome would win by an even larger margin. ASO meanwhile want suspense and drama with small time gaps going into the third week.

      • But would they? I’ve not seen a 100km time trial for a while, so is it possible to know who would win and by how much? The possibility is that you build a contender who is supreme at ITT over that distance so Froome and Dumoulin are worried about making up time on that competitor in the mountains, in the same way that Indurain used to gamble with his efforts against those of Pantani.

        I’m exaggerating the possibilities, but my question is, does producing a race which favours a particular type make the race more or less interesting? Do we value the poker face Mexican stand-offs where 3 or 4 riders are closely matched in ability, and are tested on terrain which suits them? Or the wild swings that result when riders are required to compete on differing parcours.

  25. I don’t ever remember the indurian wins being exciting… all being won between 4 and 5 minute margins, after time trials.

    And I’m sure if we went back and consumed as much detail about the stages as we do now on the Hinault, Merckx, anquetil eras then we would also find some very dull stages/years.

    We tends to remember the exceptions, like lemonds 8 second win in 89, we all like ullrich even though he won by 9 minutes, not an exciting tour but in hindsight a good story, and identifiable due to the human element.

    Unfortunely we live for the now, and the Tdf suffers this the most due to the spot light being on it.

    We can all reminisce and wish for other times, but it is what it is, the biggest race that attracts the best riders. Admittedly mostly on the same team (but how well have ex sky riders done – avoid doping theories if you can 😉 )

    Tdf is confined to what France offers, so cannot be the short steep vuelta or long and wild giro.

    I freely admit I have lost interest with the Tdf but perhaps more due to the media hype and expectations rather than the actual race…

    • I was there for every one of BigMig’s victories – with a few exceptions unrelated to Mig himself, they were dull, dull, dull, dull and dull.
      I posted something awhile back about how friends and clients, many of them long-time cycling fans had stopped watching LeTour for the reasons you indicated. I was roundly shouted down as if I was making up their claims to suit my own viewpoint, so thanks HASUK for posting this as someone that I do not know or have any known connection with.

      • Just my thoughts.

        The tour and New Year’s Eve are the same in feeling for me…

        A big build up and lots of expectations and hype but only a few have really ever delivered.

        I think without the attention they would be great events, just the pressure put onto the race always means a greater chance of disappointment.

        • My wife (much smarter than me) describes the TdF as similar to the NFL Superbowl – an event that can rarely (if ever) live up to the hype leading up to it. We’ve both felt that way for years, but the disdain for LeTour that I was describing, as relayed by these friends (both US and Italian) and clients is more recent. They describe the constant doping scandals of pro cycling combined with the domination of a a certain team and riding style as reasons they no longer care much about viewing Le Grand Boucle or reading about the results. This is far from a good sign for pro cycling.

          • I don’t think anyone disputes that Sky winning all the time is boring (well, apart from Ron). What I would dispute though is that this is anything new. Anqeutil, Merckx, Indurian and Armstrong were all unpopular (outside of their immediate sphere of fans/their own country), boring winners who won by huge margins. The first Tour I ever watched properly was the one Ullrich won by 9 minutes where he was catching his immediate adversaries in time trials for 3 minutes! The only differences now are that the race is analysed far more by social media with the expectation that every stage will be entertaining, and that Sky/Froome actually win less races than some of the stars of old. Your old pal Indurain bored everyone to death in consecutive Giro/Tour doubles, Merckx won everything he thought about entering, Hinault won GT doubles a few times plus classics and Worlds, and Anquetil won seemingly whenever he could be bothered. For us fans its probably actually better than in the past your old timers are referring to.

          • Richard S, you can dismiss what these people say are the reasons they no longer bother with Le Grand Boucle – but that’s not going to convince them to tune in and care now, is it?
            I can remember when US fans of cycling at pretty much any level couldn’t wait to watch LeTour and I’m NOT referring to just the BigTex period, so I was really surprised when I heard the various reasons they no longer care. Same thing with many of my Italian friends. Another anecdote: I asked the guy at my LBS why this big blank space on his wall didn’t have a big TV screen so he could show the big races live, delayed or run video of some of the classic races of the past? He explained that nobody cares these days – a huge contrast to when I was in bike retail. The interest in pro cycling just isn’t there anymore.
            Finally, “For us fans its probably actually better than in the past your old timers are referring to”may be true, but the the viewing interest seems to be going in a direction that the pro cycling authorities should be concerned about, no?

          • My personal experience is that I stopped watching some time in the Armstrong years, probably about his 5th victory and then picked up interest again shortly before he came back! Maybe there is nothing the authorities can do about the decline in interest in cycling/the Tour other than wait for Sky to go away, as all things in cycling eventually do. Or maybe, and I’m just guessing, the decline in interest in the Tour in some markets is because it was the only race you could see on TV in these parts of the world (USA, UK), in edited by definition more consistently exciting highlights, and now they can see every bike race they please live. Maybe that has helped them realise that the classics and the Giro are actually more interesting as races, if not media events, and that they don’t need to get as excited about the Tour anymore. Just thinking out loud because I’m bored at work!

          • I think it’s more the style of the racing – the train – that is putting people off the Tour. Dominance and doping have always happened.

          • People I talk to are bored by the style of racing in grand tours (usually – Froome’s Giro stage was very much the exception).
            People are bored by the predictability of the racing. We can all name a few exceptions, but the general rule in grand tours is that you follow your team and then go for it in the last few kms – anyone who breaks before that is pulled back by your team.
            Sky are not the only team who do this, they’re just the best at it, because they have the strongest riders. (I don’t share the Sky obsession that others on here do – whether pro or con – I wasn’t talking about Sky in my comment immediately above.)
            If Sky were to magically disappear the tactic would not.
            That’s why people are talking about getting rid of powermeters, radios, etc. – anything to try to make it more interesting.
            These might work to a small extent, but only budget parity is actually going to stop it. Only then will talented riders not inevitably be dragged back by an ultra-strong team every time they break.

  26. There are little hints to Merckx’s career along the route, I think it is very tastefully done. Honoring the legend without taking anything from the race itself in terms of route creativity. I believe Merckx took his first jersey by breaking away in powerful style towards the Ballon D’Alsace among others so it’s nice they include it. Though you can argue that it would have been harder to avoid places where he has won, than finding them!

  27. People I talk to are bored by the style of racing in grand tours.
    That includes me.

    People are bored by the predictability of the racing. We can all name a few exceptions, but the general rule in grand tours is that you follow your team and then go for it in the last few kms – anyone who breaks before that is pulled back by your team.
    Strongly Agree.

    That’s why people are talking about getting rid of powermeters, radios, etc. – anything to try to make it more interesting.
    Don’t know about that. In doubt.

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