Tour de France 2018: essential guide
By mixing cobbles, gravel roads, new summits and old favourites, the Tour boss has served up a delicious prospect for 2018
Three days before Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme unveiled the
parcours for next July’s extravaganza, French sports paper L’équipe published a “design your own Tour route” article, asking a series of expert commentators including ex-pros Charly Mottet and Jérôme Pineau to reveal their ideal Tour itinerary. This was, given what Prudhomme served up at the Palais des Congrés in central Paris 72 hours later, the perfect hors d’oeuvre.
Since taking over as the race director in 2006, and especially since Thierry Gouvenou became his route director in 2014, Prudhomme has been searching for ways to spice up every day of the sport’s greatest race. With his sights set principally on forcing the general classification favourites into the front line more often, the Tour boss has presented a host of unexpected challenges ranging from a Liège-style stage through Yorkshire, to high-mountain tests the day before the Paris finale, viciously pruning the amount of time trialling and this year’s deliberate attempt to keep the yellow jersey hanging in the balance for as long as possible.
These initiatives have achieved varying degrees of success, with the latter of that trio yielding what was widely described as one of the dullest Tours for years. Yet, rather than roll back the innovation and opt for something less radical in 2018, Prudhomme and Gouvenou decided to try every trick in the book and in doing so have served up one of the most intriguing Tour routes ever seen.
With unpredictability very much their watchword, the pair are aiming to deliver a twist at almost every turn on a route that’s sliced into two very distinct halves. The first, beginning in the Vendée on France’s western coast and finishing in Roubaix
Next year’s Tour looks set to be a white-knuckle ride
Next year’s Tour promises thrills aplenty, p22