Cycling’s marquee Under-23 stage race the Tour de l’Avenir has been confirmed in a reduced format for August 14-19.
Focused around the east of France and the Alps, the 2020 race will be shortened from its typical 10-stage format to six days of racing, and is held one week later than its typical staging window. Both measures have been implemented as part of the UCI and French Cycling Federation’s move to pack as many races as possible into its re-scheduled post-coronavirus season.
The race will roll out in Château-Thierry in the French Ardennes before making its way south via a number of hilly stages and a mountain time trial on the Col de la Faucille. The race will be decided on stage 6’s mountainous stage finishing atop Bourg Saint Maurice.
The race has long been held as a signaling point for emerging riders, and is known to be a “junior Tour de France.” Many champions at Tour de L’Avenir have gone on to success in senior grand tours, with recent winners including Egan Bernal, Tadej Pogacar, and Nairo Quintana, and American Neilson Powless scooping a stage in 2016.
“The continuation of the Tour de l’Avenir is a determining factor for the generation of riders under 23 years of age who risked missing the opportunity to show themselves in this very special year and thus dry up the recruitment of the professional sector,” read a statement from race organizers Alpes Velo on Wednesday. “The calendar for these young riders is indeed considerably narrowed, and the Tour de l’Avenir is all the more crucial.”
Race organizers are planning to keep this year’s Tour de L’Avenir open to the public, though some safety measures may be introduced.
“If the event keeps its festive and free character, with the animations and the publicity caravan, strict measures of crowds and reception of the public will be set up by the organization, in coordination with the public authorities and according to the directives to be applied in August,” read Alpes Velo’s statement.
While it was good news for Tour de L’Avenir this week, continental race the Sibiu Tour hit a stumbling block yesterday. Radsport News reported Tuesday that the Romanian race has been postponed from its planned July 2 – 5 window to a yet-to-be-confirmed date later in that month. The four-day race was set to be the first UCI race after the coronavirus racing stop, and WorldTour outfits Israel Start-Up Nation and CCC-Team had been planning to send its continental-level teams to race to get early miles in the bank before the top-tier calendar kick-starts in late July and early August.