High! That's the main takeaway from the 2019 Tour de France as it was revealed in Paris overnight. But that doesn't mean it's the hardest, according to Mitchelton-Scott sport director Matt White.
“There’s two things that stand out for me," he said on the team website. "The altitude gain with how high we are going and then the distance of the stages.”
“It’s not necessarily the hardest Tour de France route climbing wise, but I have never seen a Tour de France go so high. There is some serious altitude and climbs, high-wise.
“There’s been Tour de France routes in previous years that haven’t gone above 2000m on any stage, and off the top of my head, there would be close to 10 times we are going over 2000m next year, including some high finishes too.
"We’re going up a climb that’s 2700m (the Col d'Iseran), I’ve never heard of that in the Tour history and I think one of the stages next year is the highest finish the Tour has ever had.”
And then there's the distances.
“It’s a long Tour, nearly 3500km, and the stages are either 200km+ or 120-130km, there’s not too much in between. There’s some long days, and then short days thrown in. There are intense days.”
But the Australian director is relishing the 27km team time trial on stage two in Brussels.
“The team time trial will be undulating, it will be solid, and the second time trial actually has two climbs in it. Again, I don’t remember a Tour de France with this little time trialling, especially individual time trialling.
“The individual TT has a filthy stage to follow, probably one of the hardest stages of the Tour, so that can be a factor. Riders go so deep in a time trial, on different bikes, and some guys do pull up a bit rougher than others.”
“It’s a good course for us for the basic and obvious reason in that the individual time trialling is minimal and we are still one of the best team time trial teams.”
“As far as the design of the course goes, I like it. It’s certainly got a bit for everyone, but, of course, the devil will be in the details and we need to see the profiles and the final three kilometres for those 6-7 ‘between’ stages to see what impact they will have.