A mountain time trial on La Planche des Belles Filles is set to be the definitive stage of the 2020 Tour de France— which starts in Nice on the 27th of June 2020 — after the route was unveiled at the Palais des Congres.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme introduced a race which, as ever, features key stages in the Pyrenees and the Alps but in which the final battles will be staged in the Vosges Mountains. Defending champion Egan Bernal and four-time winner Chris Froome were among the assembled guests at the route launch in Paris.
The highlight of the race will be the penultimate stage — a time trial starting in Lure and concluding on the Planche des Belles Filles, where Chris Froome took his first stage win back in 2012. The 36km test is the only time trial on the 2020 route.
La Planche des Belles Filles itself is 5.9km long, with an average gradient of 8.5 per cent. There is a real sting in the tail as the gradient approaches one-in-four near the top, however.
Among the six summit finishes on the route are the Alpine ski resort of Orcieres-Merlette 1850, Mont Aigoual and Puy Mary in the Central Massif, and Grand Colombier in the Juras.
Intermediate climbs include the Col de la Lusette, Col de Peyresourde, Col de la Hourcere, Col de Marie-Blanque, Montee de la Selle de Fromentel, Col de la Madeleine and the gravel-covered Montee de Plateau des Glieres.
A mountain time trial on La Planche des Belles Filles will be the definitive stage of the 2020 Tour de France. Tour de France / ASO
Nice Grand Départ
It was already known the race would roll out from Nice on Saturday June 27 — a week earlier than usual, in order to allow riders to target both the Tour and the Tokyo Olympics.
Race organisers ASO had confirmed the first two stages in advance of today’s annoucement; there is a 156km opening stage, composed of two loops of a small circuit around Nice and one bigger circuit, with a flat finale expected to suit the sprinters.
Stage two is the first climbing test — a 190km stage that starts and finishes in Nice and includes the Col de la Colmiane, Col de Turini and Col d’Eze. The route will also be used for the Etape du Tour sportive on Sunday July 5.
Early climbing tests
The peloton faces another big climbing test on stage four, when the ski resort of Orcieres-Merlotte (1,825m) hosts the stage finish — a hairpin-laden, 7.1km final ascent with an average gradient of 6.7 per cent.
It will be the first stage to finish atop the resort since a time trial in 1989.
Another climb returning for the first time in more than three decades is Mont Aigoual — last featured in 1987 — where stage six concludes at 1,560m. The stage also includes the Col de la Lusette (11.7km at 7.3 per cent).
The first week concludes in the Pyrenees, before a flat, coastal stage between Il d’Oleron and Ile de Re starts week two — a stage on which crosswinds could be a major factor.
The Col du Grand Colombier is the final climb of the second week of racing — the summit finish to stage 15 on Saturday July 12.
Peaking at 1,501m, the peloton will tackle the southern ascent — a 17.4km climb with an average gradient of 7.1 per cent.
Egan Bernal flourished in the mountains at the 2019 Tour de France to claim his first title. Zac Williams/SWPix.com
Mountain time trial
The final week then includes stage finishes at Villard-de-Lans and the stunning Col de la Loze — the race’s highest summit finish at 2,304m — before the eagerly-awaited time trial up La Planche des Belles Filles.
The race concludes, as ever, on the Champs-Elysees in Paris with a largely ceremonial stage ending with the traditional final sprinting battle on the famous avenue on Sunday July 19.
Bernal won last year’s Tour de France, taking the yellow jersey from Julian Alaphilippe on a rain-shortened 19th stage to seal victory for the first time ahead of the Paris finale.
The Colombian was the first rider to win the race for Team Ineos since they took over the sponsorship of the former Team Sky.
Between Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and now Bernal, the team have won seven of the last eight editions of the race.
Bernal and Froome will hope to feature among the favourites again this year, while the mountain time trial in Thibaut Pinot’s backyard on stage 20 should excite the Frenchman.
With more climbs and no long, flat time trials, Pinot, Bernal and Romain Bardet could all feature at the sharp end of the battle for the yellow jersey.
Stage 20 will pass right through the backyard of Thibault Pinot. SWpix.com (t/a photography hub Ltd)
Tour de France 2020: route
Saturday June 27 – stage one: Nice to Nice (170km)
Sunday June 28 – stage two: Nice to Nice (190km)
Monday June 29 – stage three: Nice to Sisteron (198km)
Tuesday June 30 – stage four: Sisteron to Orcieres-Merlette 1,850 (157km, summit finish)
Wednesday July 1 – stage five: Gap to Privas (183km)
Thursday July 2 – stage six: Le Teil to Mont Aigoual (191km, summit finish)
Friday July 3 – stage seven: Millau to Lavaur (168km)
Saturday July 4 – stage eight: Cazeres to Loudenvielle (140km)
Sunday July 5 – stage nine: Pau to Laruns (154km)
- Monday July 6 – rest day one
Tuesday July 7 – stage ten: Il d’Oleron to Ile de Re (170km)
Wednesday July 8 – stage 11: Chatelaillon-Plage to Poitiers (167km)
Thursday July 9 – stage 12: Chavigny to Sarran (218km)
Friday July 10 – stage 13: Chatel-Guyon to Puy Mary (191km, summit finish)
Saturday July 11 – stage 14: Clermont-Ferrand to Lyon (197km)
Sunday July 12 – stage 15: Lyon to Grand Colombier (175km, summit finish)
- Monday July 13 – rest day two
Tuesday July 14 – stage 16: Tour du Pin to Villard-de-Lans (164km, summit finish)
Wednesday July 15 – stage 17: Grenoble to Meribel (168km, summit finish)
Thursday July 16 – stage 18: Meribel to La Roche-sur-Foron (168km)
Friday July 17 – stage 19: Bourg-en-Bresse to Champagnole (160km)
Saturday July 18 – stage 20: Lure to La Planche des Belles Filles (individual time trial, 36km)
Sunday July 19 – stage 21: to Mantes-la-Jolie to Paris (122km)
When does the 2020 Tour de France start?
The 2020 edition of the Tour de France will start in Nice on the 27th of June.