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Tour de France 2018: Five key stages

PARIS (AFP) — AFP takes a look at five of the potentially decisive stages on the 2018 Tour de France route unveiled by organizers on Tuesday:

Stage 3: Cholet – Cholet, 35km (team time trial)

Chris Froome’s Team Sky wilted at world team time trial championships in Bergen this September as the 2017 Giro d’Italia winner Dutchman Tom Dumoulin led Sunweb to victory over the 45km route. This test is shorter, but Sky will have to think long and hard about the makeup of the team it selects in a tactical balance between the power for here and the lightweight climbers Froome will need for the slog through the mountains.

Stage 9: Arras – Roubaix, 154km

Tour de France
Stage 19 of the 2018 Tour de France has 21.7km of cobblestones. 

Pure climbers will be fretting about their eventual place on the podium when they look at this one with 15 cobbled sections from the fabled Paris-Roubaix classic. It will be the longest section of cobbles for the Tour since the 1980s. This stage requires power and endurance with middleweight riders doing well. It starts and ends early to avoid clashing with the World Cup final.

Stage 12: Bourg Saint-Maurice – Alpe d’Huez, 175km

Stage 12 features a summit finish on Alpe d’Huez.

Not one, not two, but three feared climbs feature on this Alpine stage. It first tackles the Col de La Madeleine, then the Col de la Croix de Fer, and finally the Alpe d’Huez’s 21 mythical turns lead to the summit finish. With almost 71km in total of climbing, defending champion Chris Froome thinks the Tour can be won or lost here.

Stage 17: Bagneres-de-Luchon – Saint-Lary-Soulan (Col de Portet), 65km

Tour de France
Stage 17 is exceptionally short at 64km with more than 3,000 meters of climbing.

This is a short, sharp shock. Tour organizers believe this stunningly beautiful backdrop and summit finish at 2,215m will encourage attacks. Pure climbers should thrive in the rarefied air.

Stage 20: Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle – Espelette, 31km (individual time trial)

Tour de France
Stage 20’s individual time trial should be hilly and technical.

Froome and Dumoulin are already on many people’s minds when they look at this penultimate stage. It’s a pure 31-kilometer test with a hilly profile in France’s Basque country. Judging by how Dumoulin beat Froome in Bergen on the tough individual time trial course at worlds, the Dutchman may be feeling good about his chances in July.

Listen to our discussion of the 2018 Tour route on the VeloNews podcast:

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