Tour de France 2018: The cobbles, the climbs, the cool cats

Besuited pro cyclists in Paris in October? It can only mean one thing. YES! It’s time for Tour de France supremo Monsieur Prudhomme to reveal exactly what they have to face come next July. It has all the right tingles so let’s have a look at highlights of the parcours and the fashion.

Facts and Stats

  • 3329KM – the shortest in recent times.
  • 8 flat stages
  • 5 puncheur stages
  • 6 mountain stages – 25 classified climbs (11 in the Alps, 4 in the Massif central, 10 in the Pyrenees) – 3 summit finishes
  • 1 x 35km team time trial
  • 1 x 31km individual time trial

Here they all are squeezed into 3 mins

Which is enough to make you

Introducing ways to encourage more attackityness

Let’s not forget that there will only be 8 riders per team for the Grand Tours next year.

The Highlights

boldness is invited in every stage…

The mountains might not make an appearance until stage 10 but as we all know the Tour can be lost in those nervous, early days before the first rest day. There will be wind, there will be ambush territory and it’s definitely going to be bumpy. The action starts right from stage one when the peloton departs the Grand Depart on the Isle of Noirmoutier via a bridge. Ahead of them a day of echelon jeopardy along a coastal parcours topped off with a fierce sprint for yellow.

Stage 3 sees the return of the team time trial

and stage 6 the return of the puncheurs playground on the Mur de Bretagne, not once but TWICE #Hooray.

But nothing, NOTHING excited me more than stage 9 when the peloton tackles the pavé of Paris Roubaix. Never mind watching the World Cup final on this day. 154km in total, 21.7km of the rough stuff across 15 sectors.

Some teams were happier than others

VeloVoices stocks of tranquilliser darts may need to be on standby if we get a repeat of 2014 …

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A long transfer, a rest day and then straight into the Alps via FDJ racing emojis

First up

and as if the climbing wasn’t enough the race goes over the gravel roads at the Plateau des Gliéres.

The ascent to the Plateau des Glieres is a challenging six kilometres at an average gradient of 11%: “Per kilometre, the average does not go below 10%, which is very rare. The Plateau des Glieres is one of the most important maquis of World War II, it is also a tribute to those who fought and gave their lives. ‘Men here died to remain men’, it is written and it gives me goosebumps. Christian Prudhomme

Two days later and guess where we finish?

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Need another clue? How about this marvellous show of stomping magnificence!

Yes siree, the most famous 21 hairpins bends in bike racing are back on the menu with a summit finish at Alpe d’Huez  after 5000m of climbing for Stage 12.

The last week and it’s heads down and climb until you can’t feel your legs as the Tour hits the Pyrenees.

There are no easy days at Le Tour, but Stage 17 is something else altogether…

No, the inimitable Inner Ring hasn’t made a mistake. Stage 17 IS just 65km long, it does have three climbs packed in, and it ends with a summit finish on TDF first the Col de Portet.

I’ll tell you what else it has  – #firecracker and #ambush written all over it. Don’t you just wish Alberto Contador was still racing? [Yes – Kitty]

Like 2017, the last stage before the dash along the Champs Elysee is a race against the clock, with a major difference. My ears pricked up when I heard, ‘a time trial for the puncheurs and climbers not the specialists’. The last climb of the four is a tad over 10% average. Stage 20 should not be missed.

Reactions

Chris Froome was awarded the Velo d’Or prize and seemed sanguine about his chances. #PearlsOfWisdom

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Not that you’d know it from his expression #stoneface

Romain Bardet on the other hand… all smiles and chirpiness

and he certainly got his wish re an unpredictable route

All while looking effortlessly cool. Fashion! turn to the left [Oh dear, not sure I agree with you there, Midge – none of their clothes look like they fit! – Kitty]

Opinions were split

Maybe, but no one quite hits suit perfection as well as Jakob Fuglsang – if only he’d been in Paris and not en route to China

Baby Blackbird might not be riding the Tour, but he was certainly oozing style and ready to give his opinion

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What about the men blessed with fast twitch muscles?

Transfers, the bane of a cycling journalist’s life.

the replies to this one from Mr Pickering are a treat

Twitter mused over riders this route might suit.

Reigning champion

Sorry Panache, it’s seems the route might not suit the dark, dashing Dumoulin

Vincenzo Nibali was the top choice for a lot of people.

[Once, Nibs, ONCE you dropped Cancellara and that’s because Fabs wasn’t bothered. – Kitty] But will the Shark ride?

La Course

We waited for news of the route, hoping for innovation and progress from last year

This Rob Hatch thread sums up the mood

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While we dream of sunflowered landscapes next summer, here’s some highlights from this one. #ViveLeTour.

And don’t forget, there’s always, ALWAYS the Giro #LOVE

Header Image: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

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