From the spectacular setting of the Mont Saint Michel to the familiar surroundings of Paris, this year’s Tour de France route offers opportunities for all sorts of riders. Only time trial specialists will feel left out.
It's almost certainly the smallest place the Tour de France has ever started and it's among the most picturesque. A mere 41 people live on the Mont Saint Michel, though numbers are permanently swelled by tourists. A stunning abbey sits atop the 92-meter high island that protrudes from the coast of Normandy into the sea, lending the place a fairytale air and making it a perfect stage for cycling’s biggest event.
The location is the brainchild of tour director Christian Prudhomme and the event will finish at Utah Beach, one of the beaches where troops landed on D-Day in 1944.
No Tour for time trialists
This year’s route offers something for just about any type of rider. Sprinters such as Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel, both from Germany, will get their shot at the famous yellow jersey over the opening few days on flat terrain while all-rounders and classical riders like Slovak World Road Race champion Peter Sagan and John Degenkolb will also be confident. For the hill specialists, the Pyrenees, the grueling climb of Mont Ventoux in the south of France and the grand finale in the Alps will be a chance to shine.
But there is one type of rider likely to miss out this year - the time trial specialist. Big names in this discipline like Tony Martin or Fabian Cancellara are likely to have grimaced when they saw this year’s route. Even the 13th and 18th stages, seemingly the best target for these riders - appear too mountainous and techincally complex for the men who fight against the clock.
The battle in the Alps will decide the winner
As is so often the case, the battle for the yellow jersey will be decided in the Alps. Naturally, the organizers of the tour want drama and suspense until the end, so it’s little surprise that they’ve landed on a tricky endurance test for the penultimate stage.
Four short but taxing climbs (Col des Aravis, Col de la Colombiere, Col de la Ramaz, Col de Joux Plane) will separate the wheat from the chaff and make it clear who will take the acclaim on the ride down the Champs-Elysées on July 24.
The stages at a glance:
02.07.2016 Stage 1: Mont-Saint-Michel - Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, 188km
03.07.2016 Stage 2: Saint Lô - Cherbourg-Octeville, 182km
04.07.2016 Stage 3: Granville - Angers , 222km
05.07.2016 Stage 4: Saumur - Limoges, 232km
06.07.2016 Stage 5: Etappe: Limoges - Le-Lioran, 216km
07.07.2016 Stage 6: Arpajon-sur-Cère - Montauban, 187km
08.07.2016 Stage 7: L´Isle-Jourdain - Lac de Payolle, 162km
09.07.2016 Stage 8: Pau - Bagnères-de-Louchon, 183km
10.07.2016 Stage 9: Val d'Aran - Andorra Arcalis, 184km
11.07.2016 First rest day
12.07.2016 Stage 10: Escaldes-Engordany - Revel, 198km
13.07.2016 Stage 11: Carcassonne - Montpellier, 164km
14.07.2016 Stage 12: Montpellier - Mont Ventoux, 185km
15.07.2016 Stage 13: Bourg-Saint-Andéol - Vallon-Pont-d'Arc, 37km (TT)
16.07.2016 Stage 14: Montélimar - Villars-les-Dombes , 208km
17.07.2016 Stage 15: Bourg-en-Bresse - Culoz , 159km
18.07.2016 Stage 16: Moirans-en-Montage - Bern/Schweiz, 206km
19.07.2016 Second rest day
20.07.2016 Stage 17: Bern - Finhaut-Emosson/Schweiz, 184km
21.07.2016 Stage 18: Megève , 17km (TT)
22.07.2016 Stage 19: Albertville - Saint-Gervais-Mont-Blanc, 146km
23.07.2016 Stage 20: Saint-Gervais-les-Bains - Morzine, 146km
24.07.2016 Stage 21: Chantilly - Paris Champs-Elysées, 113km