TDF 2018 – Cobbles & Short Stages

Stages to win the Tour de France and Stages to lose it on as route for the 2018 Edition is Revealed

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TDF 2018 – Cobbles & Short Stages

There were plenty of talking points after the route of the 2018 Tour de France that was revealed in October 2017.

The route for the 2018 Tour de France includes:
– Three high-mountain summit finishes (La Rosière, Alpe d’Huez, Saint-Lary-Soulan col de Portet)
– A ‘classics’ cobbled stage with 22 kilometres of ‘proper’ cobbles and another with gravel roads
– Team Time Trial
– A very lumpy individual time trial on stage 20
– A 65km stage in the Pyrenees with summit finish
– Summit finish on Alpe d’Huez on stage 12
– Eight riders per team, one less than previous years
– Bonus seconds on offer mid stage (first nine stages)
– Chris Froome to attempt to win his fifth Tour crown (Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Benard Hinault and Miguel Indurain)
– Eight flat stages, five hilly stages, six mountain stages, one TTT and Ind time trial.
– The race starts a week later due to the World Cup Football – will the Tour stars ride the Nationals then?

Three, two and one bonus seconds will be awarded to the first three riders during the opening week and this will go purely towards the general classification and have no impact on the Green jersey race. One imagines this innovation is to help liven up those long flat stages that can, sometimes, drag on a little.

The 105th edition will run from 7th to 29th of July and will be the shortest route of the 21st century, covering 3,329km.  One of the additions is a gravel climb. Off roading in a road race is one of the hottest trends in cycling these days (look at the gravel races for proof of that) and the Tour de France did not want to be left out. Stage 10 runs from Annecy to a mountaintop finish on Le Grand-Bornand and also includes the climb up the Plateau des Glières where portions of the route are gravel.

Favourite will be of course Chris Froome who says “We’ve got a massive challenge for next year. It’s a Tour de France that really tests every aspect of cycling. We’ve got gravel roads, cobbles, a lot of windy dangerous stages in the first half, then obviously we go into the Alps and the Pyrenees for some brutal mountain stages as well.”

Froome added “It’s tough. I wouldn’t expect any less from the Tour de France organisers – especially the first nine days. 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. The wind could be a massive factor up there and with the GC being so close we could see the race torn to pieces.” Speaking about the cobbles, Froome continued “You could see a lot happening that day. Then there’s a stage [10] with a gravel section in it – there’s going to be a lot to get ready for in that sense.”

“It’s definitely going to be a big consideration coming into the race – having a team that will keep me safe up north. Having said that we don’t want to compromise the team we’re going to have once we hit the Alps and the Pyrenees. I imagine, in terms of selection, it will be guys who are very versatile who will be the obvious choice – especially with the team time trial playing a big part in the race.”

One of the big questions which is yet to be answered is who can challenge Froome? Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) says of the route “There are lots of nice stages. It’s a route I quite like. There are lots of mountains that will suit me, and the time trial isn’t that long. The cobbled stage will be difficult, it’s a day where you’ll need a good team around you.” Quintana has added that he will be the team leader but after he left Team Sky, Mikel Lander is also sure to have a GC role for Movistar.

One of the French favourites, Romain Bardet says “It’s a route for all-rounders. It’s not enough to be the best on one terrain; you have to excel everywhere. There are traps for everybody, not just for Froome, with the cobbled stage and the many stages that are exposed to the wind. There are lots of places where the race could break up and riders could lose time”. Talking of the short 65km stage, he says “The leaders will quickly square off against one another. This will create a lot of space and I am expecting it will be a really crazy race on that day! I wouldn’t be surprised if it produces the largest gaps in this Tour de France”.

Britain’s Mark Cavendish, who has 30 stage wins at the Tour de France and is chasing Eddy Merckx’s record of 34, said the 2018 route was “absolutely brutal”. The 32-year-old sprinter withdrew from the 2017 tour after breaking his shoulder blade in a collision with Peter Sagan during the sprint finish on stage four. “Some of the toughest stages I’ve ever seen,” he said on Twitter, adding that he did not believe many sprinters would finish the race in Paris.

Warren Barguil, who is said not to be racing for the general classification, says of the ‘special’ 65 kilometre mountain stage, “I don’t think I have done a 65km stage since my days competing as a youngster. It is going to be flat out from start to finish and it will be quite a show”.

For race director Christian Prudhomme, he expects stage 17, the “shortest road stage of the last thirty years” to be ‘dynamite’ given it features a brand new final climb of 16km at an average gradient of more than 8%, and finishes at an altitude of 2,215m.

“We especially wanted to emphasise stage variety and the routes that may prove decisive, whilst combining legendary climbs with brand-new ascensions or ultra-dynamic formats, to provide a vision of modern and inspired cycling,” said Tour director Christian Prudhomme.

The Women’s Race – The 5th edition of La Course by le Tour de France is a reworked version of stage 10 on which the best female riders will race on 17 July, just a few hours before the men. The peloton will also start from the shores of Lake Annecy from the town of Duingt. The 118-kilometre course will feature the same formidable finish with the Col de Romme and the Col de la Colombière passes, before the downhill run to Grand-Bornand.
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Stage 1: July 7 – Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile to Fontenay-le-Comte – 189km
Stage 2: July 8 – Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to La Roche-sur-Yon – 183km
Stage 3: July 9 – Cholet to Cholet – 35km team time trial
Stage 4: July 10 – La Baule to Sarzeau – 192km
Stage 5: July 11 – Lorient to Quimper – 203km
Stage 6: July 12 – Brest to Mûr de Bretagne Guerlédan – 181km
Stage 7: July 13 – Fougères to Chartres – 231km
Stage 8: July 14: – Dreux to Amiens Métropole – 181km
Stage 9: July 15 – Arras Citadelle to Roubaix – 154km
Rest day: July 16 in Annecy
Stage 10: July 17 – Annecy to Le Grand Bornand – 159km
Stage 11: July 18 – Albertville to La Rosière – 108km
Stage 12: July 19 – Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs to Alpe d’Huez – 175km
Stage 13: July 20 – Bourg d’Oisans to Valence – 169km
Stage 14: July 21 – Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Mende – 187km
Stage 15: July 22 – Millau to Carcassonne – 181km
Rest day: July 23 in Carcassonne
Stage 16: July 24 – Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon – 218km
Stage 17: July 25 – Bagnères-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan (Col de Portet) – 65km
Stage 18: July 26 – Trie-sur-Baïse to Pau – 172km
Stage 19: July 27 – Lourdes to Laruns – 200km
Stage 20: July 28 – Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette – 31km individual time trial
Stage 21: July 29 – Houilles to Paris Champs Elysées – 115km




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