Get ready for mountain highs and epic rides – the 2024 Tour de France and the women’s race are shaping up to be unforgettable. We’ve been eyeing the newly revealed routes, and here’s the lowdown:
New Starting Points for Men and Women
Next summer’s Olympics in Paris are flipping the script for the Tour de France schedules. The guys usually wrap up in Paris, and the gals kick off their race right after. But with the Olympics in town, that’s a no-go. The solution? Kick-start the races abroad. The men will start in Italy (a bit unusual, but totally thrilling), and the women will take off from the Netherlands (they’ve got a solid track record for launching the big three men’s tours). These initial stages aren’t just for show – they’re packed with challenges that’ll set the tone for the race to the yellow jersey. And to dodge any Olympic shadow, the women’s race will hit the pedals on August 12th, 2024, post-Olympics.
Men’s Early Alpine Challenge
The men will dive into the French scene through the Alps – and it’s set to be a showstopper. Starting in Pinerolo, they’ll tackle four hefty climbs, culminating in the monstrous Col du Galibier – it’s so tough, it’s off the usual scale, and it’s a beast they don’t usually face until much later in the race. Then, they’ll zoom down a spine-tingling descent to Valloire. At the end of this high-altitude drama, the day’s hero could be snagging the yellow jersey.
Riding on Gravel!
Last year, it was the women breaking new ground on the gritty gravel paths of the Champagne region. This time, the men are up on Stage 9 with a loop that kicks off and wraps up in Troyes. They’ve got 32km of crunching white gravel to conquer, split into 14 sections – with the last six promising a thrilling end to the stage.
This part of the race is sure to be a crowd-pleaser as the first week wraps up. But for the cyclists, it’s more than just a ride – it’s a high-tension, highly awaited challenge. And it’s hitting them just after they’ve pushed through the Tour’s initial time trial. Some will be battling to recover time, coming off the trial with bruises to show and scores to settle.
Peak Performance in the Pyrenees
The 2023 Tour de France took a swing through the Pyrenees right from the start, catching some off guard in the first week. This year, the mountains take center stage on the second weekend, with stages 14 and 15 daring the riders to duel it out to the summit, twice in a row. They’ll tackle eight graded climbs, including the towering 2115-meter Col du Tourmalet, scaling a total of 8750 meters. And with the Bastille Day weekend in full swing, they’ll be cheered on by throngs of exuberant fans celebrating along the way.
Exploring France’s Alpine Heights in Week Three
Week three of the men’s Tour takes us on a Southern France adventure, diving deep into the Alps. The highlight? Stage 19. It’s a grueling trek with three climbs over 2000 meters, topping off at the Isola 2000 ski haven. But let’s zoom in on the second climb, the star of the show: Cime de la Bonette. Towering at 2,802 meters, it’s not just France’s loftiest paved path but also the Alps’ runner-up. The views are stunning, though the racers might miss the scenery as they zoom past.
The Tour’s Coastal Curtain Call
This year, the Tour breaks tradition, swapping Paris for a Nice finale. The riders face a tough last weekend with a tricky summit finish and a decisive solo time trial. Stage 20 is a scenic yet challenging jaunt across the Maritime Alps, ending atop the Col de la Couille. It’s a familiar sight for fans of the Paris-Nice race. The climax? A 34-kilometer time trial from Monaco to Nice’s Place Masséna. With luxury backdrops, this is where the 111th Tour’s fate could be sealed.
Cavendish Eyes One More Win
Mark Cavendish, the British sprinting legend, isn’t done yet. Despite a tough crash and an elusive stage win record, he’s not ready to hang up his helmet. This year’s mountain-rich route isn’t doing him any favors. Cavendish has dubbed it as one of the toughest yet. Nonetheless, he’s backed by a top-notch team, including Denmark’s Michael Mørkøv from Astana—his secret weapon for chasing that record-breaking win.
A Double Challenge for the Women
Rewind to a time when double-stage days were the norm in the Tour. That’s not been seen since ’91 due to the strain on riders. But this year, the women’s Tour flips the script, starting on a Monday. Come August 13th, they’ll tackle two stages in a single day. A morning road sprint from Dodrecht to Rotterdam, followed by a short, tricky time trial through Rotterdam’s cityscape, rain could make it a true test of skill.
For the Women: A Fusion of Iconic Races
The fourth stage of this year’s Tour de France Femmes is shaping up to be a showstopper, merging the intensity of two iconic spring races: the Amstel Gold Race and the Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It kicks off in Valkenburg, the celebrated end of the Amstel Gold Race. The course doesn’t waste time challenging the cyclists with a series of climbs reminiscent of the Dutch Classic’s thrilling conclusion. After this Dutch detour, the action shifts to Belgium’s steep Ardennes climbs, echoing the most grueling parts of the Liège–Bastogne–Liège. It’s a stage brimming with potential for drama and could very well be a deciding factor for the Tour.
Alpine Climax for the Women’s Tour
The grand finale of the Tour de France Femmes is nothing short of epic, with a double whammy of Alpine ascents. The penultimate day’s stage is a marathon of 167km, featuring five grueling climbs and culminating at Le Grand Bornand. But it’s just a prelude to the ultimate test on the following day: conquering the infamous Col du Glandon and then tackling the legendary climb of Alpe d’Huez, with its 21 notorious switchbacks, each named for a past champion. It’s a weekend of breathtaking cycling not to be missed—especially on Sunday, August 18th, when history will be made on the slopes of Alpe d’Huez.