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Tour de France

2016 vs. 2015: Tour tilts toward climbers

The Tour de France route is a healthy balance between traditional sprint stages and tough climbs, with climber-friendly TTs.

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MILAN (VN) — The Tour de France cut the cobbles, tailored its time trials and presented a 2016 route Tuesday in Paris with summit finishes like Mont Ventoux. Compared to 2015’s Tour, it tilts further in favor of the climbers.

The number of summit finishes — four with Andorre Arcalis, Mont Ventoux, Finhaut-Emosson, and Saint-Gervaix Mont Blanc — drops down one from 2015, but “mountainous” remains the overall theme.

// the mountain finishes, organizer ASO weaves its race through the high-mountain passes of the Pyrénées and Alps for nine days. In July this year, that number was seven. Sky’s Chris Froome, winner in 2015 and 2013, said ASO presented a “great route that is “very well balanced.” “4 summit finishes & 2 individual time trials Ventoux on Bastille Day!” Froome wrote in Twitter. “I won the stage in yellow on Bastille Day in 2013 & 2015… Good omen I hope!”


The number of time trial kilometers increases from 41.8 to 54, but ASO tailored and tweaked the two stages to climbers. The organizer called the 37-kilometer stage 13, coming toward the end of week two, “tough” and “very hilly.”

The time trial stage north of Avignon, runs the gorge from Bourg-Saint-Andeol to Le Caverne de Pont and suits a rider like Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). Power time trialist and three-time world champion, Tony Martin did not hide his displeasure when ASO unveiled the stage at the Palais des Congrès.

If Martin was upset with the Caverne de Pont time trial, then he would be fuming over the second test of the race, a mountain time trial to Megève in the third week. Giro d’Italia organizer RCS Sport has been using the uphill individual timed stages regularly in recent years, but the Megève stage is a first for ASO in 12 years, since the Alpe d’Huez stage in 2004.

Even with 12.2 more TT kilometers than 2015, climbers like Colombian Nairo Quintana and Frenchman Thibaut Pinot should smile when reviewing the route.

The 2016 Grand Boucle wraps around French Republic with the same counter-clockwise direction as 2015 instead of alternating in a clockwise direction. The overall kilometer count is up, too, from 3,360 to 3,519. The finish, like always, is in Paris.

The Giro may throw bigger punches with high-mountain passes and 61 kilometers of time trialling, but it looks largely balanced. The Tour serves a bigger plate to hungry climbers. It leaves something for the sprinters, too: Nine flat stages that could well end in bunch kicks. André Greipel, Marcel Kittel, and top Tour sprinter Mark Cavendish should be pleased to have a chance at leading the race in week one. Unlike this year’s race, which began with a time trial Rohan Dennis won in Utrecht, 2016’s Tour begins with a flat stage to Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and an opportunity to wear the famous maillot jaune.