photo credits @ ASO
According to race director Christian Prudhomme, victory in the 2019 edition of the Tour de France will be decided amongst the climbs of the Alpine mountains, which he described as “the highest Tour in history.”
Indeed, before the final procession in Paris, the last three stages will feature non-stop climbing in the Alps, as revealed by the Tour’s organizers today.
Stage 18 takes in the classic Col d’Izoard and Col du Galibier, while stage 19 is rudely interrupted by the 2770 meter climb of the Col d’Iseran (Europe’s highest paved road) before racing culminates on stage 20 with a sapping 33 kilometer drag to a summit finish at Val Thorens.
Meanwhile, the five mountain finishes and 30 categorized climbs contrast with only 54 kilometers of time trialling, made up of a 27 kilometer team time trial on stage two in Brussels and an equally short individual time trial around Pau on stage 13.
The route could put off specialists against the clock like last year’s runner-up Tom Dumoulin, who had said earlier this month that he was targeting the 2019 Tour, but would reserve judgement until the route was revealed.
The Dutch rider did not immediately indicate whether he was put off by such a demanding three weeks that doesn’t play to his strengths. “It’s very tough route”, he said today.
“Of course more individual time trial kilometers would have been better, so it’s no an ideal course for me, but that was also the case this year. There’s a lot of high climbing with emphasis on the second half of the Tour with the Pyrenees and the Alps to be decisive.”
It is likely to suit Team Sky and their ability to control the peloton through the mountains as they seek to win their seventh yellow jersey in eight years following Geraint Thomas’s triumph in July.
However, the frequency of category two climbs are intended to invite attacks which might unsettle the British team’s grip, which has been unrelenting in recent years.
Sky’s four-time winner Chris Froome said, “it’s a tough route like all Tours de France, but what really stood out for me was the multiple finishes over 2000 meters and that’s really going to stand this route apart from previous editions.”
The race will begin in Brussels on July 6 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Eddy Merckx’s first Tour de France win, and head into the Vosges in the north-east of France, before cutting across the middle of the country and down towards the Pyrenees
There the peloton will again take on the Col du Tourmalet where 100 years ago the first rider to wear the yellow jersey, Eugene Christophe, suffered a famous mechanical problem before heading across to its brutal and decisive finale in the Alps.
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