Analysts and commentators will no doubt pore over the course of the 2018 Tour de France and offer up their wares, but what do the big stars who'll actually ride it think?

Short but bold Tour route set for 2018
Tour de France organisers have favoured a short but bold route for the 2018 edition including cobbles, a dusty track and several altitude finishes, while there's just the one mountain stage for the women's La Course.

"This route really motivates me": Richie Porte

Richie Porte told Tasmanian newspaper The Examiner  the unveiling of the 2018 course was the ideal catalyst for his return to racing on the weekend and to his ultimate recovery from that 2017 Tour de France crash. 

"This route really motivates me to put in the big miles early in order to be there in top form," Porte told The Examiner.

Like Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot, the Tasmanian too is salivating a little over the 65km, stage 17 from Bagnères-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan (Col de Portet).

"Uphill time trial, that's my thing. I'd love to win a stage of the Tour. I've been close but not quite got there." 

"Cobbles are not such a big deal for a guy of my stature. It's harder for the bigger guys. It puts all the GC guys on edge. It's stressful but it's the same for everyone.

"We've got Greg Van Avermaet whose pretty much won all those races and that makes things a bit easier. BMC have got some of the best classic riders going so they are there to help me get through that crap."

Click here to read the full article where Porte also offers some more insight into the psychological effects of his Tour crash.  

He's back! Richie Porte returns to racing in Japan
Richie Porte will race one last time this year at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race this weekend.

 

Thursday 19 Oct 2017

Tom Dumoulin (Sunewb) has yet to react to the 2018 Tour course unveiling, obviously still examining the mountain stage details and their level of suffering. 

Christian Prudhomme has made no secret of wanting the current time trial world champion there and hoping for a show down between he and Chris Froome.

But the Dutchman told La Gazetta dello Sport a few weeks ago, as quoted in Cycling News, he won't suit up if the Tour isn't for him. 

"If the Tour doesn't have a route that suits me, then why should I go there next year looking to win?" he said. 

The 2017 Giro d'Italia was not without its mountain gruel and the Dutchman was able to conquer those and his bowels. But the pay off came in two individual time trials totalling 69 kilometres where he totally blitzed his nearest rival Nairo Quintana. 

At the 2018 Tour, there's just 31 individual time trial kilometres on the penultimate stage. Although Team Sunweb won the team time trial at the recent road world championships and will ably aid Dumoulin in the 35km, stage 3 TTT, the hard mountain stages may have already caused too much damage for him repair over just 31 kilometres before Paris. 

But the way Sunweb aggressively rode the 2017 Tour almost certainly ensuring Michael Matthews‘ green jersey, Dumoulin could very well cause his own damage after the first, tough nine stages. 

 

Froome believes the first nine days of the 105th Tour de France are the most crucial and could prove decisive.

"It's going to be very nervy and dangerous up in the north west of France before we hit any of the big mountain stages," Froome said in a Team Sky statement. 

"The wind could be a massive factor up there and and with the GC being so close we could see the race torn to pieces."

Chris Froome's initial reaction to the 2018 Tour de France course

Nairo Quintana left reporters at the 2018 Tour presentation with little doubt about who he thought will lead Movistar at the 2018 Tour de France. Him. Not Mikel Landa who is moving to the team from Sky in 2018. 

"I will be the team leader in the Tour," Quintana said, as reported in Cycling News

"This has been agreed with the directors and they will support me with the right teammates.

"I don't know if Mikel will ride, but with Alejandro, we had similar situations and together we together for the good of Movistar."

After a less than impressive 2017 Tour ride where he finished 12th overall after attempting a Giro-Tour double - and finishing second at the Giro to Tom Dumoulin - the Colombian will hope for a better romp around France in 2018 and believes this is the course for it. 

"I think it is a route that favours me because we face a lot in the mountains. Neither will there be too many kilometres of time trialling and so I think I can do it a high level. 

"Without doubt we must pay a lot of attention to the cobbled stage. I will be surrounded by specialists like Daniele Bennati, Imanol Erviti and Jose Joaquin Rojas to ensure we get through without any problems. 

Click here for the full article at Cycling News.  

Listening to 2017 Tour third-placer Romain Bardet react to the course, it's as if the 2018 course was built for him. 

"I am delighted with this Tour," he said in an AG2R team statement. "It looks pretty well balanced and offers a wide variety of terrains to exploit." 

"The big climbing days will play a very important role. One day we'll be doing more than 5,000 metres and another day nearly 4,000.

"I like these marathon stages, they are what make the legend of the Tour de France."

And he's licking his lips over the 65km, stage 17. 

"In that short stage, the leaders will be sparring with each other." 

But not so much about the first week. 

"There will also be a lot of potential pitfalls. No one will be really calm the morning of the stage with the cobbles and several stages promise to be very exposed to the wind." 

FDJ reacted on social media with the most excitement about the 2018 Tour de France course. 

And their GC hopeful Thibaut Pinot is also excited about the mountain stages telling Cycling News it was a course that was good for him. 

"I like this Tour," he said. "I hope I can finally show my real potential in the Tour."

"It's a very beautiful route. The opening days will be complicated with finishes for puncheurs and a stage on the pavé. It won't be boring.

"I think the cobbles are going to be a worry for anybody who is aiming for the GC. Any stage on cobbles can cause time gaps. If the weather is wet, it could be legendary." 

Pinot like all the GC favourites is eager for the 65km, stage 17.

"I think it's a good thing. You can often have big mountain stages where not a lot happens. But this is short and very hard. For us riders, especially the climbers, we're quite happy to have a stage like this and it should be a spectacle for the fans too."

FDJ sprinter Arnaud Demare, who didn't make the time cut on a gruelling stage 9 of the 2017 Tour de France and suffering illness, is also looking forward to 2018. 

Loose tranlsation: "The first week, I will have to get in shape! It makes you want!"

Winless in the 2017 edition, Andre Greipel will aim for more in 2018. 

"I will, like always, do everything to be in top shape and will aim for my twelfth stage win," he said in a team statement while at the 2018 route presentation. 

"It’s always a great moment when the course of the next Tour de France is revealed. Most sprint opportunities are in the first part of the Tour.

"No doubt, the first week will be nervous, as usual. On top of that there is chance of echelons being formed, which means everyone will want to be at the front."

The cobble stage to Roubaix is special. I am looking forward to it, but it’s a stage that suits a lot of others too. I see several opportunities and I am looking forward to riding the Tour with a strong Lotto Soudal team. 

Greipel's Lotto Soudal sports manager, Marc Sergeant was equally satisfied with the variety of the 2018 course and its opportunities, but was especially pleased about the length of the stages. 

"It's a huge improvement that the number of stages above two hundred kilometres has been reduced: that's less demanding for riders and staff."