This year’s emblematic Tour comprises 21 stages totaling 3,404 km, divided as follows:
- 6 mountain stages, with 4 summit finishes
- 5 hilly (Medium mountain) stages
- 2 individual time trial stages (July 10th and July 17th)
- 1 team time trial stage (July 2nd)
- 7 flat stages
- 2 rest days (July 8th and 15th)
One of the highlights of this 100th edition will be the Alpe-d’Huez: riders will have to climb it twice on a same stage (July 18th, Stage 18th)! The first passage at the top of Alpe-d’Huez 1 will take place 50 km before the finish at Alpe-d’Huez 2. Last year’s edition didn´t had an Alpe-d’Huez finish, so prepare for the payback!
The only time riders were faced twice with Alpe-d’Huez was in 1979 but back then in two different stage finishes: one was won by Joop Zoetemelk and the other by Portuguese Joaquim Agostinho. Who knows this will give inspiration for Rui Costa, recent winner of the Tour de Suisse, to put the portuguese flag again on top of this stage!
Three other summit finishes are planned: Ax 3 Domaines (one super category and one 1st category climb at the stage finsih) in July 6th, Annecy-Semnoz, a new climb finish (also one super category but this time at the finish and one 1st category climb in between) , just before getting to Paris, and Mont Ventoux in France’s National day: July 14th; the ‘gift’ for riders will be a 30 Km super category climb finish, including a previous passage by the mythic Col de La madeleine.
The team time trial (TTT) challenge, last carried out in 2011, will take place at stage 4. The Tour rules for the TTT state that a team’s time is taken as its fifth rider crosses the line. It is therefore very important to keep the team in a pack as long as possible although one or two riders may act in the beginning like ‘super pace makers’ and get dropped after their work is done.
The Two individual time trials will, respectively, have the distance of 33 km and 32 km, this last a bit hilly with 2 second category climbs.
France riders have 36 wins (the last one with the recently deceased Laurent Fignon in 1984), Belgium 18 (last in 1976 by Van Impe), Spain 12 (last in 2009, Alberto Contador), Italy 9 (Pantani in 1998 was the last one to do it), Luxembourg 5 (last in 2010, Andy Schleck), United States 3, all by Greg Lemond, since the 7 Lance Armstrong’s wins in a row (1999-2005) were erased from the book records.
Other countries are also on the records Switzerland and Netherlands (2 wins), Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Australia (2011, Cadel Evans) and United Kingdom (last year Bradley Wiggins) all with 1 win.
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