Den of Wolves
With six categorized climbs including a hilltop finish, ASO has taken advantage of being in the hilliest, western part of Brittany for the Grand Départ. This opening stage of nearly 200 kilometers has almost 2,800 meters (9,000 feet) of vertical gain that’s sure to suit the puncheurs like Julian Alaphilippe, Marc Hirschi and Primož Roglič. They’ll need a good turn of speed to take the stage win at the top of the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups because the last few hundred meters are almost flat and dead straight. But the initial ramps are very hard, with a 14-percent pitch and an average of 9 percent. All the GC riders will have to fight hard not to lose any ground. The day’s route heads south from Brest down the coast, makes a turn north at Quimper and includes the infamous Stang Ar Garront hill at Châteaulin (site of an annual pro circuit race) before crossing the rolling Monts d’Arrée, which are prone to the formation of echelons if the prevailing southwest winds are blowing off the Atlantic Ocean. The finish climb, Fosse aux Loups, translates as “Den of Wolves” so perhaps a member of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step team’s “Wolfpack” is destined to win—did anyone say Alaphilippe?
At La Fosse aux Loups, after 3km climb at 5.7 percent, on 19.6 feet-wide Route de St. Urbain.