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  • 2019 Tour de France route: who does it favour?

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    As the Tour de France celebrates 100 years of the yellow jersey, we look at what the 2019 parcours has in store. Will the planets align for two Brits to make their marks in the history books?

    Photographs: Amaury Sport Organisation
    Presentation du parcours du Tour de France 2019 - 25/10/2018 : Christian Prudhomme

    There’s no culture that loves the romantic notion of stars aligning and the beauty of fate more than the French. So when next year’s Tour de France celebrates the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the maillot jaune and it happened to fall on the same year as the 50th anniversary of Eddy Merckx’s first Tour de France victory, there seemed no better destination for the Grand Départ than Belgium.  


    “Brussels, capital of Belgium, capital of Europe, the city where the man who symbolises in the best possible way the yellow jersey and the Tour de France was born. The idea was perfect and we thought it was an ideal start for that year,” Christian Prudhomme enthused.


    But when it comes to the seven flat sprint stages, the five medium mountain “hilly” stages and the seven mountain stages who does the 2019 course look set to suit?


    Read: An alternative vision for the Tour de France


    “To win you’ll need to be a climber, clearly. We say that every year of course, but we know that the all rounders are now perfectly used to mountains,” Prudhomme remarks. “One will need to be good in the mountains and be extra careful on tricky stages like those of the Massif Central. And one will also need to be good on descents. There are several sinuous descents that can play a key part in this Tour.”


    We know that from recent editions the descents have been key; look back to 2016 when Froome unleashed his pedalling supertuck attack on the descent of the Col de Peyresourde, taking the stage win and the leader’s jersey that day, keeping it until Paris. There will be several downhill finishes next year and these are the stages that play into the hands of he-who-dares-wins.

    TdF 2019 route map

    In contrast to the descents, next year’s course also looks to favour riders who are adept at handling climbing at altitude, as there will be seven mountain passes over 2000m. “Some people definitely deal with altitude better than other people, especially I would say the altitude natives, people like Nairo Quintana who was obviously born at altitude and lived at altitude, that probably plays in his advantage. But I think that will be part of the preparation at this years Tour, altitude will definitely be on the cards,” Chris Froome commented after the route had been unveiled in Paris.


    But there are other factors to look at as well. During the presentation Prudhomme mentioned that he has been in talks with UCI president David Lappartient regarding the removal of power meters from the race. This could be a game changer where you have the likes of Dumoulin and Froome so used to sitting at their pace on long climbs. The 33km hike up to Val Thorens on the penultimate day could be one of those moments where a contender digs too deep and loses it all.


    Read: Cyrille Guimard – You need to be a rouleur to win the Tour de France


    The first week will also provide drama with the summit finish on Planche des Belles Filles: “I’ve always enjoyed racing up there, the first summit finish of next year’s race and especially with an added kick at the end of over 20% that will be definitely interesting and should sort the boys out from the men,” Froome says. Let’s just hope that the extra kilometre of road they’ve added is tarmacked and good to go by then.  


    Then there are the time-trials, the 27km team time trial and 27km test around Pau that will of course go in favour of the likes of Team Sky, but for next year the time-trials aren’t as long as in previous years: “[There’s] relatively fewer time trial kilometres as well to previous editions so that’s quite different,” Chris Froome commented.


    The fewer TT kilometres should favour the likes of EF Education First and Groupama-FDJ who always struggle and lose time on those stages.


    Next year will see two Brits also fighting the ticking of their career clocks, as they try their hardest to put themselves into the history books. Froome is aiming to join the five Tours win club and Mark Cavendish is vying to take four more sprint wins to equal the record held by Merckx.


    Read: The lady in yellow who rides at the front of the Tour de France


    “When you’ve got six or seven sprint opportunities that’s good. So I can’t really complain at that, you know. I think there’s more climbing and probably more altitude metres but it’s still probably easier than 2018,” Cavendish says with a smile.


    “2018 was near on impossible to reach Paris for the sprinters. Just the position of the climbs and the layout of the stages, whereas here there is loads more climbing but there’s a better opportunity for us to work hard and get to Paris. In the end I was sick this year, but I think even if I hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have made it. So it’s quite nice next year, I’m looking forward to it,” Cavendish reflects.   


    Lastly it’s a case of who turns up on the 6th July. Reigning champion Geraint Thomas isn’t even sure whether he will race the Tour or not: “I wouldn’t say it’s 100%. I still need to sit down and decide and look at this and the Giro in detail and go from there.”

    Presentation du parcours du Tour de France 2019 - 25/10/2018

    So who is it made for? Well, it seems like this year Prudhomme and course designer Thierry Gouvenou have tried to put a bit in for everyone. There’s high altitude, multiple sprint stages, shorter time-trial kilometres and plenty for the puncheurs.


    And if the romantic gesture of planets aligning fits into play, then come the end of July next year the 100th anniversary of the maillot jaune could witness two Brits cementing their names into the history books alongside the 50th anniversary of the Cannibal’s Tour triumph.        


    The Tour will be raced over 3,460km over the usual 21 stages. Here is a breakdown of the race route.


    2018 Tour de France

    Stage 1: Saturday 6th July 2019

    192 km

    Brussels > Charleroi > Brussels

    Stage type: sprint with some of the Belgian cobbles thrown in


    Stage 2: Sunday 7th July 2019

    27 km

    Brussels Palais Royal > Brussels Atomium

    Stage type: TTT


    Stage 3: Monday 8th July 2019

    214 km

    Binche > Épernay

    Stage type: day for the breakaway


    Stage 4: Tuesday 9th July 2019

    215 km

    Reims > Nancy

    Stage type: sprint


    Stage 5: Wednesday 10th July 2019

    169 km

    Saint-Dié-des-Vosges > Colmar

    Stage type: one for the breakaway experts


    Stage 6: Thursday 11th July 2019

    157 km

    Mulhouse > La Planche des Belles Filles

    Stage type: mountain top finish


    Stage 7: Friday 12th July 2019

    230 km

    Belfort > Chalon-sur-Saône

    Stage type: sprint


    Stage 8: Saturday 13th July 2019

    199 km

    Mâcon > Saint-Étienne

    Stage type: hilly


    Stage 9: Sunday 14th July 2019

    170 km

    Saint-Étienne > Brioude

    Stage type: hilly


    Rest day: Monday 15th July 2019


    Stage 10: Tuesday 16th July 2019

    218 km

    Saint-Flour > Albi

    Stage type: sprint


    Stage 11: Wednesday 17th July 2019

    167 km

    Albi > Toulouse

    Stage type: sprint


    Stage 12: Thursday 18th July 2019

    202 km

    Toulouse > Bagnères-de-Bigorre

    Stage type: mountain with downhill finish


    Stage 13: Friday 19th July 2019

    27 km

    Pau > Pau

    Stage type: ITT


    La Course will also be held on this day where the ITT course will be used as a circuit course raced by the women’s peloton over five laps. Each lap will feature two climbs.  


    Stage 14: Saturday 20th July 2019

    117 km

    Tarbes > Tourmalet

    Stage type: short mountain stage


    Stage 15: Sunday 21st July 2019

    185 km

    Limoux > Foix Prat d’Albis

    Stage type: mountain stage with 4,700m of elevation


    Rest day: Monday 22nd July 2019


    Stage 16: Tuesday 23rd July 2019

    177 km

    Nîmes > Nîmes

    Stage type: sprint


    Stage 17: Wednesday 24th July 2019

    206 km

    Pont du Gard > Gap

    Stage type: hilly


    Stage 18: Thursday 25th July 2019

    207 km

    Embrun > Valloire

    Stage type: mountain with long downhill finish (mountain passes: Vars, Izoard, Galibier)


    Stage 19: Friday 26th July 2019

    123 km

    Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne > Tignes

    Stage type: summit finish at Tignes (crosses the Iseran)


    Stage 20: Saturday 27th July 2019

    155 km

    Albertville > Val Thorens

    Stage type: summit finish


    Stage 21: Sunday 28th July 2019

    127 km

    Rambouillet > Paris Champs-Élysées

    Stage type: sprint



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