It’s that time of year when we get a preview of what the 2019 Tour has in store for us. The race route has been revealed by the race organiser ASO. 100 years since the introduction of the race leaders yellow jersey, the route certainly isn’t on the flat side.
Brussels will host the grand depart, with the 2019 Tour heading to Belgium for the 11th time. This will be a nod towards the legendary Eddy Merckx. Brussels will also accommodate a team time trial on the second day of the Tour.
The 106th Edition of the Tour de France comes complete with 3,460km over the 3 weeks of the race. It’ll also feature 30 categorised climbs, five mountain top finishes and only 54km of time trials. This certainly won’t favour the Dutch favourite Tom DuMoulin.
A lot of the stages have been shortened and the route has specifically been designed to make the race harder to control for the big teams. I looks like we’ll see a lot of the GC contenders battling it out in the thin air of the mountains, without big squads around them. The tactics of the race this year will become very interesting. ASO have openly admitted to asking the UCI for a ban of power meters in the race. They say the data ruins the uncertainty of racing.
From Belgium the riders will head towards the north of France for some flat stages. These are mixed in with some short, sharper climbs before the real GC battle begins in the Vosges mountains. Then passing through the Massif Central and into the Pyrenees, the race will cover an exceptional amount of elevation. In the mix is an individual time trial and a summit finish of the Tourmalet. Finishing in the alps with the well known 2,365m high ski resort of Val Thorens for the final show down. Covering the highest paved road in Europe among many others, it’s sure to make an action packed race from start to finish.
Starting in the captial, the Tour will open with a 192km stage that looks set to have a sprint finish. The middle of the stage will incorporate the Muur van Geraarsbergen. A famous cobbled climb that we see in the Tour of Flanders.
The second stages 28km TTT will be one of the first times the teams get to assert some dominance. Keeping the leader at the front of the field will be more important than ever in a race where the team advantage has been limited.
As the 2019 Tour moves north into France, we’re sure to see multiple attacks on the green jersey. Stages three and four look lined up for the bunch. We then see the climb move up into the mountains for a few days. Stage 6 is confirmed to be featuring a 20 percent, dirt road finish at the top of La Planche de Belle Filles.
Throwing Back in the Pyrenees:
With a nod to the races rich history, the 100th edition of the yellow jersey race will head into the Pyrenees. Eugène Christophe was the first rider to wear the yellow jersey in the 1919 Tour de France and the race will celebrate his famous mechanical on the slopes of the Col du Tourmalet that cost him the win.
Three mountain stages and the individual time trial line up for some really testing days in the race for GC. The first day in the mountains will see the race traverse from Toulouse to the top of the Col de Peyresourde. Following this it’ll be another ascent in the form of the Hourquette d’Ancizan before a fast finish.
The individual time trial is only 27km, though it’s certainly rolling. GC contenders will be battling for every second though it’s the day after that we often see the racing happen. As we saw in this years Giro, the day after a time trial the GC battle can be very exposed. It’s even more magical when you realise this second day is the day the riders do battle on the Tourmalet, the tours most used climb. Before a fourth day of over three classified passes before another summit finish.
Finishing off in the Alps:
The final week takes us up into the alps. As you can imagine the stages get very lumpy very quickly. ASO are hoping cross winds will cause difficulties on the approach to the alps, setting up for a big final battle.
Stage 18 is when the deciding moments will begin to happen with a stage to Valloier. The Col d’Iozard, the Col Du Galibier and the Col de Vars are all included. Some of you will have instantly realized all three of these summits are over 2000m a first for a day of the tour for 8 years. The finish is a fast, winding descent but make no mistake, this will be one of the hardest days of the 2019 tour.
Stage 19 comes in at only 131km, but don’t let that fool you. Another three major climbs have been thrown in to accommodate. The Cormet de Roselend, the Côte de Longefoy (for the first time in the Tours history), with testing descents to match. Finally the 33km climb to Val-Thorens will be where the riders have to leave it all on the course. At 5.5%, it’s not the steepest of climbs, but after the 3 weeks prior, the legs will certainly know. It’s the fifth mountain top finish in the 2019 Tour and the third highest in the races history. A fitting finish before a flight to Paris for the following days parade and to announce to winner of the Tour de France.