• The 107th Tour de France sticks mainly to the south and is set to be a tough affair (ASO)Source: ASO
“It’s brutal, it’s probably the hardest route I’ve seen in the last five or six years." Gulp! Even Froomey thinks the course for the 2020 Tour de France, unveiled in Paris overnight is hard.
Cycling Central

Reuters, ASO
16 Oct 2019 - 8:04 AM  UPDATED 21 Feb 2020 - 2:37 PM

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This week, Christophe Mallet and Dave McKenzie debrief the route of the 2020 Tour de France officially unveiled in Paris overnight and they take a closer look how it could all play out. 

Tour de France organisers put a spring in the step of the climbers with a route hitting mountains as early as Stage 2, and only one time trial on the eve of the final procession in Paris.  

The race could be decided on the penultimate stage in the 36km solo effort against the clock ending on the Planche des Belles Filles, home to fan favorite Thibaut Pinot, who was in position to win this year’s race with two days to go but had to pull out injured.

Pinot will be back on the Tour next year and the super hilly route will favor him as well as defending champion Egan Bernal of Colombia. He will face internal competition within Ineos as four-time champion Chris Froome returns after missing this year’s event through injury.

The Briton, who limped onto the presentation podium at the Palais des Congres in Paris, said the route is one of the hardest he has ever seen.

“I’m heading in the right direction. I still have a plate in my hip than I need to have removed and once that’s done I hope it will improve faster,” Froome told reporters.

“It’s brutal, it’s probably the hardest route I’ve seen in the last five or six years. There will be a lot of opportunities.”

His 22-year-old team mate Bernal, who became the youngest rider to win the Tour since World War II, was happy with the route.

“Of course it suits me perfectly, with those steep climbs, and the only time trial finishes with an ascent,” the Colombian said.

Tour de France 2020 clings to the south, passes through all five mountain ranges

Tour director Christian Prudhomme said it was the organisers’ duty to offer the riders the best playing ground.

“We tried to make it as exciting as possible but it is the riders who make the race,” he said. 

The second stage will take the peloton around Nice with three climbs - Col de la Colmiane, Col de Turini and Col d’Eze - on the menu, giving early opportunities to the overall contenders.

There will be two mountain-top finishes in the opening six days, a rarity in Tour de France history and is unlikely to favour Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, who makes his mark in time trials.

The race will stay within French borders and avoid the northern part of the country but will go through all five mountain ranges — Alps, Pyrenees, Vosges, Jura and Massif Central — making the 2020 Tour a rollercoaster that could also favour Julian Alaphilippe.

The Frenchman spent 14 days in the yellow jersey this year and the undulating nature of the 2020 race, with only four hill-top finishes, will suit his aggressive style.

The queen stage, however, might prove too much of an effort for Alaphilippe as it will take the riders to 2,304 metres above sea level with a finish in Meribel, at the top of the Col de la Loze, a brutal 21.5-km climb at an average gradient close to eight per cent. 

The race starts a week earlier than usual because of the Tokyo Olympics.

“The last stage will also end around 1915 (local time), instead of 2115 last year, because some riders will be flying straight to Tokyo afterwards,” added Prudhomme.

Tough parcours for the sprinters, but Caleb Ewan optimistic 

After winning three stages on debut in 2019, including victory on the Champs Elysees, the hallowed site for sprinters, Caleb Ewan was a welcome addition to the formal unveiling of the Tour de France route. 

"Stage 1 for example, is a demanding course for the fast legs, but maybe we can survive the hills to sprint for the yellow jersey in Nice," he said.  

Others found the humourous side of the rollercoaster parcours. 

The 107th Tour de France: