The route of the 2023 Tour de France has been announced. Like a gift that’s been wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree, we can see the outline today but it’s only later that everyone gets to play with it. In the meantime let’s give it a shake to try and get a better feel of what lies inside for July.
Stage 1, Bilbao > Bilbao, 182km
A series of sharp climbs that will thwart a sprint finish. The final climbs of Vivero and Pike Bidea are staples from the Circuito de Getxo which will see most sprinters ejected and dejected before a flat finish in Bilbao.
Stage 2, Vitoria-Gasteiz > San Sebastian, 209km
The Clasica San Sebastian stage but only by approximation. The Jaizkibel climb is tackled from the eastern side, the opposite of the Klasikoa in August. It’s the longest stage of the race and as Christian Prudhomme quipped, the longest stage has never been this short. If the first two stages were announced long ago, it’s still worth dwelling on the prospect of fervent Basque fans and routes that invite racing from the start, even the polka dot jersey will be hard fought.
Stage 3, Amorebieta > Bayonne, 185km
A coastal procession to Bayonne for the first time since 2003 when Tyler Hamilton won after a long solo raid. This time it’s likely sprint finish but there are some climbs along the way.
Stage 4, Dax > Nogaro, 182km
A sprint stage and a tribute to André Darrigade who hails from Dax, the 93 year old was the best sprinter of his generation in the 1950s and still owns a newspaper and book store in Biarritz. The finish on the motor racing circuit means a sprint, dragster style.
Stage 5, Pau > Laruns, 165km
The first mountain stage as the race makes an incursion into the Pyrenees via the Col de Soudet and then the tough Marie-Blanque where the top part has 10% gradients. There’s the descent to Laruns, the same finish as 2020 where March Hirschi got caught and Tadej Pogačar won the stage.
Stage 6, Tarbes-Cauterets, 145km
The Aspin-Tourmalet combo is the hardest part of the stages. The climb to Cauterets, a summit finish? It does climb to a ski station but it’s 5% for a lot of the way as the road runs up a valley where the presence of an old rail/tram line proves the gradient isn’t too hard.
Stage 7, Mont-de-Marsan > Bordeaux, 170km
A start with a nod to Luis Ocaña, then stage for the sprinters as the race returns to Bordeaux after a long absence since 2010. It’s almost always a sprint finish because the terrain is flat and the city has those big, long haussmanian avenues.
Stage 8, Libourne-Limoges, 201km
A few hills along the way to sap the sprinters before a finish in the porcelain-making city of Limoges, last visited in 2016 when Marcel Kittel just beat Bryan Coquard in the uphill sprint. There’s another uphill finish, but it’s different one, longer and with no downhill run into it.
Stage 9 Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat > Puy de Dôme, 184km
Much is already being made of the Poulidor connection, the start in the town where he lived, the finish on the mythical Puy de Dôme volcano and there’ll be plenty more from the archives to come but it should be a good day’s sport to look forward to as well. Normally it’d be a 150km but the route has 3,600m of vertical gain as it seeks more climbs going via the Lac de Vassivière and Volvic before it reaches Clermont-Ferrand. From here it tackles a tough climb out of town just to reach the flanks of the Puy. This will thin out the peloton before the final climb which is likely to be closed to the public… and team cars alike.
Stage 10, Vulcania > Issoire, 167km
A rest day in Clermont-Ferrand and then a hilly stage from a volcano theme park to show off more of the area, this is Romain Bardet country and a likely breakaway day with lumpy roads before the finish in Issoire.
Stage 11, Clermont-Ferrand > Moulins, 180km
A flat stage across the old Bourbonnais region to Moulins, a passage across part of France’s empty area, past villages where many houses have the shutters are closed all day. With Moulins the Tour can finally end a trivia question because it’s the only departmental capital in mainland France never to host a stage.
Stage 12, Roanne > Belleville, 169km
There’s no map nor detailed profile for this stage but after lumpy roads out of Roanne the race will tackle climbs like the Croix Montmain – 6km at 7% – and Croix Rosier as it climbs among monts du beaujolais before a rendez vous in Belleville. A promising breakaway stage and scenic if the sun’s shining.
Stage 13, Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne > Grand Colombier, 138km
The 14 juillet stage. There’s a passage across part of the Jura plateau before dropping down to the Rhone valley. Here the Grand Colombier is tackled climbed from Culoz via the lacets, this is a beast of a climb comparable in raw stats to the Galibier and although without altitude, but it’s got attitude and views galore.
Stage 14, Annemasse > Morzine, 152km
A hard day that’s almost always up or down, the race turns into the Chablais Alps to start the climbing via several short passes before the tough Col de Ramaz and then the mystical Joux-Plane, a confounding place that has seen many riders over the years label it their most feared climb. It’s chased by the classic toboggan descent into Morzine.
Stage 15, Les Gets > Le Bettex, 180km
Another daunting day in the Alps and with 180km, what counts for a long stage these days in the Tour. After some gentler climbs to help the breakaway go clear, the second half is packed with tough ascents to the point where the Croix Fry is a categorised climb but the Aravis after isn’t, as if the route has too many mountains to label. The finish is described as “Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc” in the same way Ryanair describes Beauvais as Paris. The actual finish is in Le Bettex, a summit finish where Romain Bardet won in 2016, while Saint-Gervais down below hosts the rest day.
Stage 16, Passy > Combloux TT, 22km
The only time trial of the race and at 22km, the least amount of time trialling since 2015. It borrows roads used in the 2016 Tour’s time trial. It won’t be over that quickly because there’s a rise out of Passy and then the steep Domancy climb above Sallanches to the finish in Combloux, it’s not for the heavyset rouleurs. Don’t call it a mountain time trial but it’s not far off.
Stage 17, Saint-Gervais > Courchevel, 166km
Only 166km but with 5,100m of climbing and if we have to deploy the term, it’s the étape reine, the royal stage or “Queen Stage” as the literal translation goes. There’s Alpine aristocracy with Col de Saisies, the Cormet de Roselend… and then a climb labelled “Longfoy” but actually the Col du Tra. This long gradual pass was supposed to be climbed in 2019 on the last mountain stage but a landslide closed the roads and so it was never taken and if the climb isn’t fierce the descent is one of the most technical with over 30 hairpins in 9km. Then the drag up to Meribel which, despite the 8%, feels like a mere warm-up for what’s to come: the formidable Col de la Loze. Surely Europe’s most difficult cycle path with its ever-changing gradients and the 20% wall section at the top. This time it’s no summit finish, instead it’s down a steep roaf and only just wider than the cycle lane up before reaching Courchevel and a finish on the altiport.
Stage 18, Moûtiers > Bourg-en-Bresse, 186km
A race out of the Alps that could take in a pass or two but avoids that for a sprint finish on the plains of Le Bresse.
Stage 19, Moirans-en-Montagne > Poligny, 173km
Moirans has a population of just 2,120 but gets to host its second start after 2016. Is the mayor a big cycling fan? It’s a touristy place though for summer with campsites, river gorges and more while Poligny is the capital of comté cheese, visit for the real thing rather than the slab of latex usually sold in supermarkets. But we’re left riffing on the tourism because the course doesn’t challenge too much, it’s another sprint finish? However there are some hills and desperate teams will want to salvage something via a breakaway win.
Stage 20, Belfort > Le Markstein, 133km
A dash across the Vosges with 133km and 3,600m of vertical gain and borrowing the Markstein finish used by Le Tour Femmes last summer but climbed here from the other side via the Platzerwaswel instead of the Grand Ballon. It’s a hard course after three weeks but not infernal, there’s talk of steep sections but don’t get sucked in by the hype, they’re rare points along the course. It’s more a slog with few recovery sections or valley roads to chase on.
Stage 21, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines > Paris, 115km
Stage 21 and the Paris parade but enjoy it while you can because the year after it’s said the finish could be in Nice to make room for the Olympics.
Another archetypal Christian Prudhomme route as the race exploits all of France’s five mountain ranges. Short stages and only one brief time trial build on the prudhommisme. It’s a Tour made for live TV.
With the start in the Basque Country the race visits the Pyrenees but can’t go to deep into the mountains too soon for fear of revealing the GC contest too soon. Instead the Massif Central, the Jura, the Alps and then the Vosges all supply plenty of climbing, it total a record amount of top-rated climbs say ASO and while this label is subjective, it is a vertical vintage. There are nods to history, the Tour will revive the old stories for the Puy-de-Dôme but its inclusion is all about reviving the location rather evoking black-and-white film reels. The Tourmalet is arguably the only other legendary climb en route, the Grand Colombier and Loze are tough but they’re “new” finds.
It’s very much not a tour of all of France, it skips much of the flatter parts. To glance at the map is to see the original 2020 plan again. This might unite Bretons and Normans in frustration, but this way the Tour can always find hilly terrain rather repeat sprint stages. There are eight sprint stages but that’s at the most and there’s variety among these.
Overall it’s a tough course for the climbers where Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar will fancy their chances again, it’s Primož Roglič friendly too with the revival of mountain top time bonuses in some places, and if we’re lucky Egan Bernal will be back in the mix.
- Coming up soon, a look at the Tour de France femmes route, and also some wider notes on the routes to look beyond the sporting course and pick over the themes, issues and more
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Thanks for the quick posting of a guide!
Saw on the TdF website, “Bonus points will be located on passes or summits at strategic points along the route. The first three classified riders will be awarded bonuses of 8, 5 and 2 seconds, respectively (subject to approval by the International Cycling Union). These bonus points will not count towards the points classification.” Points or seconds? But not to Green Jersey? Seems odd!
Sounds like same thing they had in 2020
That’s right, it’s time bonuses only. The UCI rules only allow for 10-6-4 seconds at the finish and 3-2-1 at intermediate points, but they can approve a small exception. There’s also talk the UCI could allow bigger time bonuses as well in the coming seasons if organisers want to use this.
Thanks for clearing that up! Seems a bit of a garbled up explanation of “extra bonus seconds will be awarded at certain places.”
I find it a little bit too much Alps-centered… And not everywhere in the Alps but just the North of it, it looks like every Tour now must stay several days in the Jura/Savoie region, which makes it a little bit redondant.
1988 was the last time for Puy de Dome if I remember correctly?
Yes, 13 times between 1952 (Coppi) and 1988 (Weltz) but all the reference points seem to be 1964, probably in large part because of The Photo of Anquetil and Poulidor locked in their duel (see https://inrng.com/2020/04/1964-tour-de-france-part-ii/ if anyone wants more)
Surprised Bordeaux gets a sprint finish. Didn’t they say they didn’t want the Tour, and amyway street furniture makes it impossible..?
– Or will this be a finish at a nearby airstrip, like they did last time Bordeaux was listed?
So which top riders has this parcours been aimed at? Definitely too little ITT kms for many, so maybe this is a free-for-all to suit the open racing and high-speed chess we all enjoyed since Covid ended.
I’ll look at the themes and issues in and around the race in another post here soon but for now, you’re right they did say this… then the mayor was replaced, the new one is a Green and they’ve had reservations about the Tour but are more and more interested as the Tour listens to them (they’re customers in a way) and talks about cycling as transport, changes the podium ceremonies etc.
Hard to see it targetted at any one rider, Pogačar and Vingegaard will like it but David Gaudu should do too. As you say the hope is we just get another daily smashfest with attacks going when they shouldn’t and so on.
A Tour de France which all but omits half the country – and comes nowhere near me! I’m hardly expecting a revival of the first Tours which more or less followed the country’s circumference but the abandonment of tradition in favour of spectacular TV leaves this viewer and reader cold.
Is this suppose to be sarcastic? Yes, yes, yes, we want to see a race that has competitive non sprint stages. And yes, yes, yes, we want spectacular TV and not some procession to the finish line because a part of France feels left out. The Tour of France has grown to be the world stage. I actually think the Tour would benefit if the whole first week started away from France and slowly worked its way to France giving so much more of the world an opportunity to see the race and to explore new locals. Maybe one day it will start in the USA if they are now allowing a third rest day.
It’s a common refrain, many who live in France want it to come past their home. The Tour tries to balance things out by aiming to visit each traditional region every three years or so.
But I think there’s a shift, the organisers deliberately want the race to go where the best roads for racing are, for variety so you never have more than two sprint stages in a row and even these can have obstacles along the way.
From a recent trip and observed road surface improvements for backwater roads you can be sure 2024’s Tour will go through les pays d’Auge and possibly the Pont de Normandie, if that’s gonna prise you away from the TV.
There’s a whole thing in French towns/departements/regions about each town hall and prefecture having a big secret to keep, and using discretion to brief only favoured parties ( so you’d better toe the line…)
They do repair roads from time to time as well. But yes, a lot of works can be done for the Tour de France. Having done plenty of recons in May and June, you often come across roadworks laying fresh tarmac in time for the race.
There’s a whole thing with local government and finding out what’s going on, eg a townhall could be voting now to make a payment to ASO in 2025 for a stage but they can’t say this out loud, there are nerds (a compliment) in France checking local government finances for these kind of payments (“sporting fee”, “event hosting” etc) and then guessing the Tour route long in advance.
I really don’t see why anyone would want for the race not to go to the best roads for racing. The race can’t go everywhere anyway and the suitability for racing is an important factor.
There will be regions where people would not get the race come near their homes this year, but if there are too many flat stages, a whole portion of the world would tune out. The needs of the mony outweigh the needs of the few 😉
“We” want a good race, not a good television.
And “we” certainly don’t want “a world stage” starting in Murica. Let’s keep trying to sell itself to yankees and dixies to ass. footbal. 😉
The Tour starting in the USA? What? I don’t totally understand some of the starting places but I get it and ok, accept it. But We’re not a neighbor or neighbor to a neighbor or anything close. I AM USA & think it’s appropriate to quit considering starting the TOUR in the USA. -Who’s doing that? Is it a money thing?
However, I’m, never to be qualified to be considered in good judgement of such things, with hopefully kind words.
Not a fan of any of these money-grabs whether they’re ASO taking LeTour to Copenhagen or RCS taking Il Giro to Israel. If they want to export their sporting expertise, etc. run a tour in those countries instead – like ASO does with La Vuelta or RCS does with events bankrolled by petro-dollars.
I think you’ve put Copenhagen and Denmark in wrong company.
For one thing I’m not at all sure that ASO netted more euros than if the Grand Départ and stages 2 and 3 had been granted in usual manner o a high bidding French city or town.
And for another, I’d argue that Copenhagen and Denmark brought more of what we like to see and what we appreciate in a Tour rather than less (than keeping it 100% French would have done).
I expect Bilbao to be on a par with Copenhagen.
As a matter od fact I cannot immediately recall a Tour start that took the Tour out France and left me disappointed or that I had my reservations about for other reasons.
Lot of whining there. Talk to an Australian who lives in the other 95% of the country where the TdU never visit.
The whole Australian summer of international cycling is weird in how Victorian focused it is:
Bay Crits – Geelong and Melbourne (Vic)
Road Nationals – Ballarat (Vic)
TdU – Adelaide (SA)
Cadels Race – Geelong (Vic)
Sun Tour (when it runs) – Vic
Melbourne – Warnambool (bit of a stretch to include) – Geelong (Vic)
Draw a 500km circle around Ballarat and you will capture just about every event, including TdU
Nothing stopping people in other states from starting their own races, including putting in a better bid for the road nationals or lobbying AusCycling board members for a rotation policy to start after the end of the current contract.
In fact, with the Sun Tour looking like it is not going to make a post-Covid comeback, it’s the perfect chance for another promoter to claim its spot on the calendar. Not too late to organise a domestic race for 2023 to claim the dates, and go for UCI classification in 2024.
The only time the TDU gets within 500km of Ballarat is when stages include Murray Bridge or Tailem Bend 😉
The first few stages look they do not invite huge crashes, although it is Tour, so … hopefully Roglič survives without a crash, so we get a really good contest.
Also fingers crossed for Bernal in top form.
But the first day sounds like it should result in some town gaps which will mean less proper wanting to be near the front. The biggest danger is when you have GC and sprinters/one dayers all in the mix.
Doubt Roglic will be allowed a crack at the Tour again (for Jumbo at least). If he wants to be a Grand Tour leader next season, he’ll need to take on Evenepoel at the Giro.
Roglic may do the Giro, he may not. That would depend on his recovery time from surgery. There’s always a possibility he won’t regain full mobility in that shoulder, which would then impact his ability to ride. Having your shoulder rebuilt isn’t trivial, and the recovery time can be extensive. There’s a lot of unknowns, so we shouldn’t expect him to be back racing right away.
Orthopedic surgery isn’t trivial, but aren’t you painting monsters on the wall?
We don’t know the exact nature of his injuries, but I believe Roglic underwent a quite normal Latarjet operation. I wouldn’t describe it as a simple routine operation but it is not as complex as rebuilding a shoulder.
Barring an infection, recovery should be fairly straightforward and Roglic could be back on a trainer in a couple of weeks. The biggest risk on his way to be back in racing form is a crash during a training ride…
A Giro without Roglic to make life a little bit more difficult for Evenepoel would be a dull affair 🙂
Painting monsters? Maybe, but I’m speaking from personal experience. A few years back, I had a “routine” rotator cuff repair (a much simpler procedure than a Latarajet) and the recovery was not easy. I ended up with 85% mobility in the shoulder after six months. It wasn’t until I crashed on that shoulder year later that the scar tissue broke free and I got full mobility back. Happiest crash I’ve ever had! Obviously I’m not a professional athlete and don’t have access to world class medical professionals like Roglic does, but I do think people underestimate the possibilities for complications and long term negative effects. I’m a huge Roglic fan, so I really hope your more optimistic take is the correct one.
Difficult decisions for Jumbo-Visma. They’ve won the Tour once but have a team built to win more but do they bring Roglič as a super helper / Plan B? Vingegaard proved the superior rider but Roglič had crashed and it was his work on Galibier-Granon stage that helped unpick Pogačar. With UAE looking stronger these days (Adam Yates joins etc, McNulty is improving), maybe Vingegaard would like Roglič alongside?
Yeah, can well imagine they’d like him there as that super helper/plan B. And Vingegaard might. But they might also feel they owe him a proper shot at being sole team leader at the Giro, if he wants it – he’s done a lot for that team, hasn’t he?
That said, RV’s comment above about the surgery is interesting. I hadn’t realised how serious it was, maybe. Fingers crossed he recovers quickly – would like to see him be able to make the choice.
I would guess it’s how Jumbo management see the Giro & Vuelta. Send the A team with all the top guys to the Tour (all in!) and use the other GT’s to see how the rest are doing, or send a strong team to the Giro to do battle with Remco (probably). If I was in charge at Jumbo, I’d say go all in at the Tour, but if I was Roglic I’d want to go to the Giro as Vingegaard seems the better climber and a couple of very good climbing doms could be a better support.
Isn’t this a Tour route designed to send Roglic to the Giro?
I guess they could ride the same round course daily on a F1 motodrome for the first six stages and there wouldn’t be less crashes than normal. Riders are responsible for most of these crashes, not the course.
Another attempt to “manufacture” excitement but by doing so risks losing the very thing that makes the Tour unique. This is not just a cycling issue most sports seem to to be going down the same path, the worst example probably being Formula 1. Chasing broadcast ratings with ever more hype is to the long term detriment of the race and bike racing.
I get what you’ve written but then again what is it that “makes the Tour unique”? Watching the presentation had me thinking this is a route where racers have to race vs a boring watts/kg test. I’m sure the chronomen think it’s unbalanced and I can see their point. It’s up to the racers to make the race so let’s see who shows up.
I was on the Puy de Dome in 1988 (following Le Grand Boucle for my first time) and think it’ll be a travesty if nobody is allowed on the road to see this!!! WTF?
The Puy de Dôme road is now so narrow, they’ve built a railway on it to leave a small tarmac strip and it seems there won’t be room for team vehicles to go up (also a problem because they’ll struggle to get back down) so it’ll be closed for everyone, a pity but there’s no room, it really feels like a cycle path rather than wild road on the side of a volcano. There’s a good chance it’s back in 2024 as well.
It will be nice to see no team cars. Fewer motor bikes would be an additional plus.
Will it be just the neutral service motor bike allowed, or will riders have to run to the finish (á la Froome) pushing their bike if they have a puncture or mechanical problems? No team helpers either allowed either on the road side? (not that there seems to be a “road side” on the photos that I’ve seen)
And here’s me thinking you were a traditionalist Larry. I’ll clearly have to reevaluate some things..
I might end up changing my opinion as I watched RAI’s Radio Corsa on Thursday night rather than the official ASO show, but that’s what I thought of the route. Only post-race will we know if it was a real race vs a dull watts/kg test, but my initial impression is hope for the former. What is UN-traditionalist about that? Puy-de-Dome without roadside spectators OTOH…I say why bother? THAT is a travesty!!!
The other races need to find a way to be unique. The Tour needs to be the gold standard.
I agree with your sentiments, jc. It’s getting to the point where almost all stages are GC stages, yet what about the teams without a GC or climbing hope. Breakaways and the often forlorn hope that the peloton will miscalculate are their raison-d’être. Does that mean there’s no clear role for such teams in modern cycling – or at least no longer in the TdF?
During the first week, 4/9 stages should be of little to no interest for GC men, and 3 more could easily be left to a break. The second week’s got 3/6 stages of no GC interest especially suited for a break – which doesn’t mean that a break won’t also be allowed to have a go in two of the the 3 remaining mountain stages, especially the Mont Blanc one but also to Morzine. Third week will again have 3/6 stages of no GC interest at all.
If anything, I’d say that, first week apart, there’s too clear a split between “marked” stages, when everybody knows a battle of sort could come up, and other stages where GC men will be able to pretty much relax. Even assuming that ASO doesn’t want more serious mountain marathons, perhaps I’d have switched one of those easy stages in the first or third week for some longer and more demanding stages on hilly or mid-mountain terrain.
Could lack of ITT kms and a hilly route could mean more riders have the chance for podium spots? I’m basing this on there being more riders who can climb well than those who can do that and TT well also.
Though hard to see anyone beating Vingegaard or Pogacar, I’m hoping Mas or one of the other Vuelta protagonists from this year – like Ayuso or Rodriguez – will have upped their game even more by next summer and will help to make things interesting.
Will Rodriguez even ride the Tour? It looks like Thomas will do the Giro, so maybe that means Bernal and Dani Martinez to the Tour and Rodriguez to the Vuelta again? I’m trying to imagine what those three teams would look like… I’m having a hard time seeing Ineos winning a GT next season. They definitely don’t go in as favorites for any of them.
Have a sneaky couple of roubles on Pidcock coming of age. Two stages around his second home, some really technical descents and climbs that should suit his build. I hope Ineos give him a go.
After seeing Pidcock’s descending skills on the Alpe d’Huez stage of this years TdF surely his team will be scouring road books for technical descents within a few km of a finish. He won’t be a candidate for GC but should be a candidate for the right stage.
Rodriguez could be an outsider, not for the overall win but a GC contender in the making.
Ineos seem to have a lot of good riders but just not the world’s best so they’re looking to win other races or in other ways. But you do wonder how much Jim Ratcliffe yearns to win the Tour more than the Brabantse Pijl or the Basque Country.
I’m sure the race will be an interesting watch because most of the best bike racers in the world will be there. But that’s all it is. Like a lot of sports it has become content. We’ll get the little tik tok reel highlights of Pogacar attacking or whoever else. Everything else, the actual Tour if you like, pretty much all of the events soul, and almost any kind of variety, has been taken away. If I was from northern France, or anywhere outside of the Jura, Massif Central and Pyrenees, I think I’d have some pretty major beef with Michel Prudhomme.
Unlike you, people from northern France, or anywhere outside of the Jura, Massif Central and Pyrenees pretty much know that the Tour won’t and can’t visit every region of the country every year. We live in 2022 and long transfers to satisfy every corner of France are bad for everyone and a thing of the past, get over it.
They’re fine with it and enjoy the Tour spending several days in the Bretagne like 2 years ago. And they will enjoy the return sooner or later.
Mr Ring’s verdict, “Another archetypal Christian Prudhomme route …” and browsing the web about the last time the Tour had so little TT-kms, I came across, “the race director Christian Prudhomme described it as “atypique” (English: “atypical”), adding “If you do not climb, you will not win the Tour in 2015”. Plus ça change!
There is a possible ironic twist though, that the GC contenders will be following each other for 2 weeks and the TT in week 3 will, one way or another, decide the overall winner.
The best TT riders are often the best Tour contenders too, Pogačar and Vingegaard are likely picks for the Combloux TT stage already.
I do not disagree, but as the those two are so equal climbers, the TT could make the difference by the time they get to Paris. Another factor is of course team strength and all that entails.
Pogacar pointed this out somewhere saying the chrono stages no longer change much vs the old daze. Before “aero” handlebars and twiddly gearing the big men went fast against the watch and dueled over the leader’s jersey with the tiny climbers who danced away when the roads tilted up. Until they get rid of both I don’t see that ever coming back 🙁
Probably not of great interest to anyone but the trivia nerd, but during yesterday’s ride a friend asked me when did we last see a Grand Depart without a rainbow jersey.
The correct answer(*) is of ourse so simple that it completely escaped me, but at least I was right about Paolo Bettini doing the Giro and the Vuelta…
…which would make Remco Evenepoel the first WC since 2008 to say no to the Tour.
(*) Julian Akaphilippe, 2022 sidelined with an injury
Feels like there’s something almost every day to watch.
You say Stage 9 will go via Vassiviere for the Puy de Dome stage but I can’t find any maps showing this?
All the maps and profiles tend to appear only in May, some parts of the course have yet to be fully signed off although that’s admin 99.5% won’t change.
As for more details, the local press always seems to know more the day after the presentation and according to Le Populaire which covers this region Stage 9 goes via the Lac de Vassivière, a Poulidor stage with his training roads first, then Peyrat-le-Château where he was “discovered” as an amateur by making life hard for the pros in a race and onwards.
Beautiful miniaTour. Very very nice but in little little scale.
And scale sometimes matters in cycling.
Little altitude racing; no hard GC stage will reach five hrs. of racing, and several ones will hardly come close to four; *very* light third week (perhaps that foolish idea about reducing to two weeks the Giro – outright nonsense – or the Vuelta – because of some trends in course design it now luckily left behind – ehi, maybe that’s should apply to the TDF, now, why not? …just joking); laughable amount of ITT; lots of pure sprint stages to recover.
That said, the first week is very balanced and promises to be entertaining without sealing much GC options, which is good (for a first week). The second week although the profiles aren’t here to be examined in detail could perhaps provide – according to what inrng says above – some interesting mixed terrain before three mountain stages in a row, and quite well set I’d say. And the hard stages of the last week, ITT included, are in themselves – if looked at one by one – well-designed: the problem is “only” the general context. Plus, good mix of uphill and downhill finishes in the hard stages through all the race.
It may as well result in very good racing, apparently only tainted – and marginally so, precisely like the Giro – by an excess of sprints, but the big difference with the Giro is that this route just renounces to test endurance, fondo and, generally speaking, performance in condition of “forced” low power, as it happens at high altitude or in conditions of major exertion (besides, well, ITT skills). To me, that’s nearly as serious as deciding that in a GT you decide you don’t test cyclists in, dunno, climbing? Not as much, indeed, but more significant than most might think.
However, we all know that the TDF can just do as they please. They start to pay for their mistakes and suffer in audience terms only after several seasons of poor racing, as it shortly happened in the second half of the 10s or at the very end of the Armstrong age. Not a risk with the current generation of riders… well, unless Pogacar has any issue which forces him to skip the TDF, I mean. And, anyway, they quickly recover decent figures as soon as things start working again, whereas other races need to be honing their qualities for years before excellent racing receives a proper acknowledgment.
One of the missing things is one long mountain stage. I don’t mind a short mountain dash or two, but having two of these the day after a long stage can be better. It tests different riders with their different fuelling and engines, and the next day can bring a contrast with fatigue in the legs, it’s as if the 200km+ mountain stage is a test of endurance but there’s another the next day over 130km.
The thing that I find a bit disappointing is that it looks like the GC will be decided by the end of stage 17, unless any accidents/illness happen in the last 4 stages. I’d rather have the final big mountain stage as stage 19 or 20.
On a slightly different topic, I find it interesting that the Etape du Tour is using Stage 14’s route, and not the Stage 17 parcours. I’m curious what the organizers’ criteria for picking that route is? Sean Kelly reportedly hit 120 km/h on the Morzine descent in the 80s. Could be real carnage if it rains.
If the cicloweb guys are right, the sprint stages are even easier than I expected, and quite too many. The breakaway stages are also quite obvious calls and Issoire or Poligny don’t really offer much stuff to dream about any sort of GC action (which might grant some surprise effect… wild optimism alert). If they like so much short stages… well, the Belleville one should have been 10-15 km shorter and all the better for it. But, ok, fine enough. Only, it’s just it and the first couple of Basque ones to allow some classic hilly and treacherous terrain. The second week turns out to be slightly more disappointing than I thought.
If Vines goes to Emirates that will give Australians a reason to watch.
As I see it, the UAE/Jumbo trains will have a warm up on stage 6 up the Tourmalet, then fire up for full speed on stage 13 up the Colombier. Take the yellow jersey and defend over the weekend, the TT gives the doms an extra rest day, then defend up the col de la Loze. A couple of breakaway days, then a “Paris – Nice” type last racing day, before the arrival in Paris. This assumes of course Pogacar does not want to race from stage 1, but if a team buys a train then I’d expect we’ll see it in action.
Pogacar and Vingegaard are the benchmark, Roglic, Evenepoel, Bardet, Vlasov, Carapaz and Mas will be the challengers (if they start). So far business as usual..
But Ineos will be the big wildcard. Depending on whether they will take 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6(+) GC contenders to the TdF.
“before a rendez vous in Belleville.”
This deserved more kudos! Well done…
Triple kudos at least ^___^