The route of the 2020 Tour de France has been revealed and it’s mountainous with more summit finishes than ever. Throughout the race, the route sticks to France’s southern half, the only excursion north is for the finish on the Champs-Élysées. Legendary Tour de France mountains Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux are not on the menu for 2020, regardless there is plenty of climbing and the 2020 edition is set to be ‘identical in difficulty’ to 2019 with the race scheduling only one individual time trial.
“It will be physically challenging throughout,” said race boss Chris Prudhomme.
“That is really the hardest route I’ve seen anywhere in the past five years,” said four-time Tour winner Chris Froome (Ineos), who attended the route presentation.
The 3,470km route kicks off in Nice on June 27, one week earlier than usual to accommodate the Tokyo Olympics, starting July 24.
The race first heads west toward the Pyrenees mountains, north up the west coast, then across the center of the country through a procession of difficult mountain ranges. After a long stint in the south, the peloton then transfers to Paris for the traditional finish on the Champs-Élysées.
Like last year’s edition, there are very few time trial kilometers on the route for 2020, with only one on the penultimate stage, an individual mountain time trial.
Many of the usual climbs like the Alpe d’Huez, the Col du Galibier and Mont Ventoux will be avoided for new ascents, including the Col de La Loze in Meribel, a road constructed within the last 12 months. There will be a summit finish on the Pyramide du Bugey for the first time, a summit finish at Grand Colombier and a summit finish on the Puy Mary.
The focus is undoubtedly on climbing, with the first mountain arriving during stage 2, and the last coming in stage 20’s time trial. The 1,607m m Col du Turini, climbed on stage 2, will be the highest the Tour has gone so early in the race.
The race’s first summit finish comes early, Stage 4 will wrap up on the Orcieres-Merlette climb in the Southern Alps.
The 2019 Tour used an extended version of the Belles Filles climb on a gravel surface, for 2020 the Tour will finish before the gravel section. Gravel is still on the menu, however, with the return to the Plateau des Glières in the Alps.
There are 9 relatively flat stages, but even the flat stages appear to have traps for the sprinters. The entirely coastal stage 9, for example, is pan flat but will likely be battered by winds.
The Tour avoids excessively long days again, and continues with the new trend of shorter, more dynamic stages. 13 stages measure less than 170km. Unfortunatly, there is no return of the super-short experimental stage trialed in 2018.
After the 2019 Tour being branded one of the most exciting in 30 years, race organizers certainly appear interested in repeating the unpredictable and scrappy racing we saw this summer.
A Tour Designed for Thibaut Pinot
At this year’s Tour, he was the best climber in the race. He won the stage to the Tourmalet and was by far the best General Classification rider on the road to Foix.
Give back the time lost in the crosswinds and Pinot would have been positioned second on GC on Stage 17 and two minutes ahead of eventual winner Egan Bernal. Obviously, this speculation removes from account the injury which meant that Pinot never reached Paris, but if he had, he may well have been in yellow.
It’s almost without a doubt then that for the 2020 Tour de France ASO has designed a route to give a Frenchman, namely Thibaut Pinot, the best chance of winning its home Grand Tour since 1985. Interestingly, putting all chips on Pinot harms another Frenchman.
Julian Alaphilippe is already resigned to being less of a force in 2020:
‘I will study the parcours in detail together with the team, but what I can already say is that it’s one of the toughest editions in recent years, with a demanding opening weekend in the south that will create some gaps and several gruelling climbs,’ he said.
‘On paper, there are a couple of stages that suit me, but I will know more once I do the recon. What I can tell you for now is that I won’t go for the General Classification, as next season I will have other goals.’