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

Cycling Weekly - - Contents - Peter Cossins

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 prom­ises thrills aplenty, p22

Next year’s Tour looks set to be a white-knuckle ride

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