The 2020 Tour de France looks set to be packed with mountain stages and ‘very few’ flat stages.
Race designer Thierry Gouvenou spoke today in advance of a full route reveal in Paris on Tuesday.
“We hardly leave the medium or high mountains at all, that’s the general spirit of this Tour,” he said. “If you’re looking for the spirit of the thing in terms of general difficulty, it’ll be almost identical (to 2019).”
The 2020 grand depart sets the tone hinted at by Gouvenou, with the race kicking off on the edge of the Alps in Nice and the mountains arriving as soon as stage two.
When asked if a course packed full of mountains would discourage sprinters such as Caleb Ewan, who took three sprint victories in 2019’s Tour, or prolific Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen, Gouvenou disagreed.
“Not really, even if there are very few flat stages, there are others where sprinters can stay in the mix and go for the win. But it will never be easy.”
The 2019 Tour, won by Egan Bernal, saw an opening week with a number of tough hilly stages and a super-steep gravelly summit finish on La Planche des Belles Filles. From there, the course continued to mix mountain stages with tough transitional days that didn’t let the peloton get into a rhythm.
Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe defied the odds by holding the yellow jersey for a total of 14 stages in what was one of the most exciting Tours in recent memory. And it looks like we can look forward to another Tour that will keep the peloton on their toes, with Gouvenou saying that “we have learned our lessons from the 2019 Tour.”
Rumors suggest that the race will close out in the medium mountains, with a final phase in the Jura and Vosges. The final weekend of the 2019 Tour was set to take place in the high mountains before adverse weather caused stage neutralizations and re-routing.
“You can say that 2019 and 2020 are a kind of pair before a clean break in 2021,” said the race designer, when thinking ahead to 2021’s Tour, which is set to start in Copenhagen with four flat stages.
Next year’s Tour will start one week earlier than usual to accommodate the Tokyo Olympics, with the first stage rolling out of Nice on June 27. Froome, who is recovering from a collection of serious injuries after a crash in June, will likely line up in Nice alongside his teammate and defending champion Bernal.