A total of 53 categorised climbs pepper the parcours of this 105th edition of the Tour de France, highlighted by six mountain stages and the three finishes at altitude of La Rosière (Stage 11), Alpe d’Huez (Stage 12) and Saint-Lary-Soulan col du Portet (Stage 17).
In 2017, Warren Barguil (then Sunweb) showed a real sense of character to eventually claim a 69-point victory in the King of the Mountains classification over Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo). The Frenchman claimed two stage wins – at Foix and on the on the Col d'Izoard – in what was a stellar performance.
How the points will be accumulated
The toughest battles will be fought on the nine Hors Catégorie (HC) climbs on offer this year, and like 2017, will be worth 20 points for the first man across the line, with 16, 12, 8, 4 and 2 points for the next five riders. Category 1 climbs have 10 points for the first rider across the line, followed by 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 point for the next riders to follow. Category 2 climbs start with 5 points down to 1 point for the first four riders; Category 3 climbs will earn riders 2 and then 1 point while Category 4 climbs will snag one rider 1 point.
Double points are on offer at the top of the final climb on Stages 16 (Col du Portillon), 17 (Col du Portet) and 19 (Col d’Aubisque).
The riders to watch
Some of the GC favourites will find themselves in contention for the polka dot jersey – Chris Froome took home both the General and Mountains Classifications in 2015 – but, here is a look at some of the other riders who will be chasing the points when the road points to the sky.
Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic)
Tour de France stage wins: 2
The likeable Frenchman says he wants to defend his 2017 King of the Mountains classification win and chase stage victories in what will be his fourth Tour de France start. Now riding with his local Breton Pro Continental outfit, the 26-year-old will be interesting to watch without a tactically brilliant WorldTour infrastructure behind him. His sixth place in the standings for the mountains classification at the recent Dauphiné would suggest he is climbing better than he was last year.
Rafal Majka (BORA – hansgrohe)
Tour de France stage wins: 3
A two-time winner of the maillot blanc à pois rouges, in 2014 and 2016, the Polish rider was forced to withdraw from last year’s race following a heavy crash on Stage 9. Majka has ambitions for the overall and will be the team’s designated GC charge, next to green jersey hope Peter Sagan. He would need a big improvement on his 26th place and given the dual ambitions for the team, it’s a questionable goal. Majka’s attacking style suits this year’s parcours and should he make the most of this, he’ll be around the mark for the polka dot jersey.
Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo)
Tour de France stage wins: 1
The Slovenian was impressive with his ‘go-for-broke’ stage victory, attacking from the early break on the Col du Galibier and holding off the GC contenders by over a minute on Stage 17 last year. Blessed with climbing ability, the former ski jumper, took overall victories at the Itzulia Basque Country (over Mikel Landa) and then the Tour de Romandie (over Egan Bernal) already this season and as he builds his strength in just his third grand tour, a shot at the polka dots might be the ticket.
Pierre Rolland (EF Education First-Drapac)
Tour de France stage wins: 2
The Frenchman had a remarkable run in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015, finishing no worse than 11th overall. In 2013, Rolland finished third in the King of the Mountains classification. Last month, Rolland showed excellent climbing form on the way to his eighth place at the Dauphiné and as an important man for Rigoberto Urán, the 31-year-old should find happy hunting grounds if he’s given the go ahead.