The 2018 Tour route has twists and surprises aplenty as organisers try to ignite the race
Take a look at the 2018 Tour de France route
T he biggest innovation of the 2017 edition of the Tour de France was that every kilometre was broadcast live. For the first time ever viewers could watch each of the 21 stages from start to finish. The wall-to-wall TV coverage, however, left the organiser ASO and the route glaringly exposed. Many commented that the race, won for the fourth time by Chris Froome, wasn’t actually all that exciting. Considering all the extra television coverage, the criticism is likely to have stung.
Much has been made of the idea ASO have tried to design routes in the past with the aim of breaking Froome and Sky’s stranglehold on the Tour, but for 2018 it seems they’ve accepted that whatever type of race they conjure up it will not faze the team. Instead, they appear to have designed a course that is the antithesis of boring. It’s packed with novelties and new terrain that will keep teams guessing. A team time trial, cobbles, gravel tracks, a short 65km mountain stage, new Pyrenean climbs, a hilly individual time trial and a new bonus time rule all feature in next year’s 21 stages, packing the route with enough different elements to keep the viewers entertained.
The 2018 Tour is a race of two halves split across northern France and the Alps and Pyrenees. The sixth Grand Départ in the Vendée has long been confirmed, and the first week has a mix of terrains to test the peloton, as the route makes its way east towards a showdown on the Roubaix cobblestones. While nothing that appears is new to the Tour so far - cobbles made an appearance in 2010, 2014 and 2015, and the short, sharp Côte de Mûrde-Bretagne has also appeared twice as a summit finish recently - each has been dialled up an extra notch.
This time around the Côte de Mûr-de-Bretagne is tackled twice, the second time at the finish, and although rumours that the Tour would return to the pavé were spot on, few expected 21.7 kilometres of them on stage nine. Almost like a summer version of the spring Queen of Classics, the 154km stage packs in 15 sectors before finishing close to the Roubaix velodrome.