Tour de France
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2020 Tour — five stages to decide the yellow jersey

2020 sees an atypical Tour route packed with opportunities and risks for the GC riders - and here are five stages that could prove crucial.

PARIS (AFP) – The 2020 Tour de France route unveiled in Paris on Tuesday set pulses racing with a host of mouth-watering stages in prospect, here AFP looks at five of them that could decide everything:

Stage 2: Nice-Nice – 187km

Seeking to emulate the thrill of the 2019 Tour organizers have lit the fuse of the 2020 route with bonus seconds up for grabs on the penultimate climb and at the finish line. In what’s hailed as an untraditional course, the fireworks start early for the peloton with some serious climbing right off the bat. It is hoped someone of the ilk of Julian Alaphilippe will attack from distance and seize both the initiative and the yellow jersey in the low Alps behind Nice, thereby establishing an attacking mindset.

Stage 9: Pau-Laruns – 154km

This year’s course doesn’t see a lot of action in the Pyrénées, but it counts when it does. The second Pyrenean stage is possibly the toughest on the Tour, with a first 11km climb at over 9 percent of the Col de la Hourcere, just the first of four climbs and a treacherous, winding descent to the finish line. It’s a chance for the pure climbers to stake their claim.

Stage 10: Oleron island-Re Island – 170km

Never before has a stage started on one island and finished on another as this Atlantic coast extravaganza does. The route shuns most of northern France this year, so it’s a chance for the wind to be a protagonist. The organizers are hoping for wind on the day to create echelons in the peloton as it weaves through the narrow roads of the coastal marshes. It’s days like these when the GC favorites have to avoid ambushes and traps that could cost them time, and prove fatal to their overall ambitions.

Stage 17: Grenoble-Meribel Col de la Loze – 168km

This summit that has never figured before culminates with an old ski slope maintenance road converted into a 7km bike track. It has flat sections and 20 percent inclines that would never have featured on a real road. The peak stands at 2300m where a 360-degree view offers selfie fans the chance of a snap with Mont Blanc in the palm of their hand. The GC favorites will be more focused on the task at hand, and it’s here where the likes of Egan Bernal or Chris Froome must make a stand. It’s a mountainous Tour, but without many true alpine stages. This is one of the big ones.

Stage 20: Lure-La Planche des Belles Filles – 36km individual time trial

Right in French hero Thibaut Pinot‘s backyard, Tour organizers have placed the only time trial of the event on the final day of GC action, saying they prefer shoulder-to-shoulder racing. The run-up to the hugely popular Planche des Belles Filles in the Jura starts out flat and has a long incline before a final 6km ascent that rounds off the action of the 2020 Tour, making it clearly a decisive moment and which saw champion Bernal’s jaw drop in admiration when unveiled. There is only one time trial in this year’s Tour, but this one could decide everything.


— AFP