Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White has described the 2020 Tour de France as one “for teams that are versatile and can race aggressively.”
Over recent years, White has masterminded the shift of the Orica / Mitchelton franchise from a team focussed on sprints and stage-hunting to one targeting grand tours.
During his tenure, White has guided Esteban Chaves to two grand tour podiums, Simon Yates to a red jersey at the Vuelta a Espana, and both Simon and his brother Adam to week-long race victories and top-sixes at grand tours. The Tour de France has so far been out of White and his team’s grasp however.
“I think the thing that stands out for me is that the difficulties in the race are very sporadic and are scattered right throughout the route,” he said on his team’s website when discussing the unconventional route presented on Tuesday.
“The back end of the Tour is very hard, but the difficulties start straight away. So, it’s a tough one.”
A key talking point of the Tour’s route is the spread of mountain tests throughout the three weeks, with the first major climbs coming as early as stage 2. Race architect Thierry Gouvenou has suggested that the difficulty of stage 2 “could see someone win by minutes,” and White feels that an early shake-up will make for fiery racing.
“The majority of the peloton will be off GC very early,” he said. “That means you will see an aggressive style of racing because it’s going to be a little bit easier for teams to control. The GC teams won’t have to defend against a lot of the peloton from early on.”
While the first climb comes early, the last climb comes late – a time trial to the summit of La Planches des Belles Filles on stage 20. The result? The GC moves and shakes that could be seen as soon as stage 2 will continue all the way through the race.
“The race wants the battle to come down to the wire and I think with the course they’ve designed they could potentially have that effect,” said White.
Although the Australian team’s GC bid faltered in the 2019 Tour, they were versatile enough to shift their focus and pick up four stage wins. With Chaves recently renewing his contract with the team and the Yates brothers also in place for 2020, it’s likely that Mitchelton-Scott will go to the Tour with more than one GC threat – a flexibility that could be to their advantage.
“I think it’s a good-looking route for teams that are versatile and can race aggressively so there’s certainly no complaints about the course from our behalf as a team,” said White.
White isn’t the only one who likes the look of the route, with four-time winner Chris Froome, defending champion Egan Bernal, and a host of French stars all recently praising the most unconventional Tour in decades.