2013 Tour de France: Detailed analysis of the route of the 100th edition
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2013 Tour de France: Detailed analysis of the route of the 100th edition

by Shane Stokes at 6:10 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Stage by stage breakdown of balanced, experimental parcours

Tour de FranceAnnounced today and featuring several notable twists, including the first-ever visit to the island of Corsica, the venue for the Grand Depart, a time trial finishing at the famous tourist highlight of Mont-Saint-Michel, two ascents of l’Alpe d’Huez and a night-time finish on the Champs Elysees, which will loop around the Arc du Triomphe for the first time ever, a very interesting route for the 100th edition of the Tour de France has been unveiled.

Regarded by many of the riders as a very balanced route after the 2012 time-trial focussed Tour, pure climbers such as Andy Schleck, all rounders such as Alberto Contador, Chris Froome, Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen, plus time trial specialists like Bradley Wiggins have all expressed satisfaction with the parcours.

There is one team time trial, two individual time trials, four summit finishes, a total of six mountain stages, seven flat legs considered conducive to a bunch sprint, and a total of 3,479 kilometres spaced out over 21 stages.

Something for everyone, in other words, and a blueprint which the organisers ASO hope will lead to some very memorable racing.

‘Once again, a broad range of terrains has been chosen, to offer all types of riders the possibility to shine, in all the sequences that Le Tour will include,” ASO said in a statement. “Time-trialists will have pride of place as part of a team time trial in Nice, then on their own at the Mont-Saint-Michel, whilst the sprinters should be looking forward to the finishes in Marseilles, Montpellier or also Saint-Malo. In any case, the route will constantly favour the brave and, amongst them, the climbers will have opportunities spread all along their journey to Paris.”

VeloNation has broken down the details of each of the 21 stages, and included the evaluation of race director Christian Prudhomme for each of those. Read on for an analysis of the route of the 100th Tour, which begins on June 29th and runs until July 21st.

2013 Tour de France:

Stage 1, June 29: Porto-Vecchio to Bastia, 212km: Day one of the 2013 Tour is almost completely flat, lacking any categorised climbs and giving what Tour organisers say will be – amazingly – the first chance since 1966 for a pure sprinter to take the jersey on the opening stage.

The day makes a more significant piece of history, though, marking the first-ever time a Tour stage will be held in Corsica.

Christian Prudhomme’s assessment: After a splendid course that runs around the bay of Palombaggia and the cliffs of Bonifacio, the sprinters will have an immediate opportunity to conquer the Yellow Jersey. Since the Prologue first took place in 1967, the only two inaugural stages fought out in normal racing fashion in 2008 and 2011, favoured the punchers. The finish was uphill. This time, it will be on the flat.

Stage 2, June 30: Bastia to Ajaccio, 154km: Stage two is a much harder proposition for the riders, with a saw-toothed profile making it likely that if a sprinter did take the jersey on day one, that he could lose it 24 hours later. These climbs include the categorised Col de la Serra (807m) and the Col de Vizzavona (1,163m), with the latter topping out 58.5 kilometres from the line.

That may give sufficient time for the bunch to come back together, but the short, sharp ramp of the Cote du Salario comes 11.5 kilometres from the line and could enable one or more riders to springboard clear.

CP: Before triumphing in the Imperial City, the riders will have to take on a medium-mountain stage including the Vizzavona pass. The final will be reminiscent of a spring classic, with the ascent of Côte de Salario twelve kilometres from the finish. The finish will be set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Iles Sanguinaires.


Stage 3, July 1: Ajaccio to Calvi, 145km: The third and final stage on the Corsican island is the location for two important birthplaces; Napoleon Bonaparte was born in the start town of Ajaccio, while the stage ends in the reputed birthplace of Christopher Colombus, Calvi.

Battle will rage in between those two points, with five climbs peppering the parcours and making it another tough day for the Tour riders. These ascents include two categorised climbs, namely the Col de San Martino (km 58) and the Col de Marsolino (km 132). The latter is just thirteen kilometres from the line, and will play a major role in the outcome.

CP: Corsica's spectacular landscape continues to unfold. After passing through Cargèse and Porto, the peloton will discover the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Calanques de Piana. However, let's not forget the day's five climbs. At this point, the first rider(s) to make it through the Marsolino pass will only have 13 kilometres to go before they reach Calvi.


Stage 4, July 2: Nice to Nice, team time trial, 25km: A ferry will take the race across to the French mainland, where the race will recommence with a short, fast team time trial. The Tour last visited the city in 2009 when the race began here with a prologue; in the years since, it has once again hosted the finish of ASO’s early-year event, Paris-Nice.

CP: The team time trial will, for the first time in the Tour's history, include a team crowned the world champion of the discipline. In theory, the relatively short distance will not allow any significant gaps to open up between the favourite teams. But watch out for seconds dropped on the Promenade des Anglais.

Stage 5, July 3: Cagnes-sur-Mer to Marseille, 219km: The nearby seaside town of Cagnes sur Mer was visited in 2009 by the race’s second stage, and this time hosts the start of day five of the race. The stage is one that could finish in a big gallop, but also offers the chance for a breakaway.

CP: During the last two finish stages in Marseille, Jakob Piil, in 2003, and Cédric Vasseur, in 2007 enjoyed breakaway victories. Adventurous riders will be inspired by these two recent examples and can count on the Gineste climb, well known to the Marseille-Cassis road runners, to succeed in their efforts.

Stage 6, July 4: Aix-en-Provence to Montpellier, 176km:
The town of famous French painter Cézanne is the starting point for what is expected to be a race for the sprinters; it extends 176 kilometres to Montpellier, where Mark Cavendish triumphed in 2011. Other sprinters who have won there include André Darrigade, Olaf Ludwig and Robbie McEwen.

CP: This will be a superb opportunity for masters of the sprint. With the help of their teammates, they will unleash their energies and engage in a robust combat on the approach to the finishing line which, once again, will span the entrance to the Yves du Manoir stadium. In the battle for the Green Jersey, precious points are up for grabs.

Stage 7, July 5: Montpellier to Albi, 205km:
Another gallop may well be on the cards, but the route is sufficiently complicated to give hope to others who are hoping for an alternative outcome.

CP: The landscapes of the Hérault and the Tarn include some hilly terrain that should raise the hopes of brave riders attempting a breakaway. They will however need to be determined and inspired if they are to foil the game-play of the sprinter teams, aware of the following Pyrenean sequence that will see them losing out on the leading positions.

Stage 8, July 6: Castres to Ax-3 domaines, 194km: The race will have encountered several decent climbs by this point, most notably in Corsica, but the first summit finish of the race will shake things up to a much greater extent. After starting in Castres, the hometown of the 1977 Maillot Vert Jacques Esclassan, the first two thirds of the stage are mainly flat, but then rear up to the summit of the 2001 metre Col de Pailhères (km 165.5) and then the 1350 metre-high Ax 3 Domaines (km 194).

The severity of the climbs plus the fact that the second comes right after the first will shatter the peloton and could well see a change at the top.

CP: The climb towards the Pailhères pass, one of the most formidable in the Pyrenees, will signal the start of the big moves by the star riders. The descent into Ax-les-Thermes, followed by the climb to the Ax 3 Domaines ski resort, will present an opportunity to shake up the hierarchy. Inspired climbers will have the chance to excel.

Stage 9, July 7: Saint-Girons to Bagnères-de-Bigorre, 165km: The second Pyrenean stage may lack a summit finish, but it should bring about another shakeup due to the five categorised climbs which come before the thirty kilometre drop down to the finish.

The Col de Portet d’Aspet comes after just 28.5 kilometres and will be a rude awakening for the riders; it is followed very soon afterwards by the Col de Menté, then at kilometre 72.5 the start of the fifteen kilometre climb of the Col de Peyresourde.

This will be followed very soon afterwards by the highest ascent of the day, the 1580 Col de Val Louron-Azet (km 107.5) and then the day’s last climb, the 9.9 kilometre Hourquette d’Ancizan. The summit is 135 kilometres after the start, after which the riders will hurtle down to the finish in Bagnères-de-Bigorre.

CP: This is where those attacking riders who are at home at high altitude will get the chance to combine showmanship with efficiency. Five climbs figure in the day's programme. Following two consecutive passes (Portet-d'Aspet and Menté) at the start of the race, riders will have to climb those of Peyresourde and Val Louron-Azet before facing the final challenge of La Hourquette d'Ancizan.


July 8: Rest day, Saint-Nazaire: The race’s first break from competition will see the riders stay in and around Saint Nazaire, which was frequently used in the early Tours. Teams will train in the morning to keep their legs moving and prevent them from seizing up, but the rides will be relatively short and at a lower intensity than racing pace.

The afternoon will be for resting, and many teams will hold media sessions.

Stage 10, July 9: St-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo, 193km: The race restarts on July 9th with a mainly flat stage to Saint Malo, the so-called Pirate City. Samuel Dumoulin won the last time the race finished here in 2008, and French riders will hope for more success in the city. However will likely have to fight against the sprinters’ teams to do so.

CP: Saint-Malo will host the only stage finish in Brittany. The ramparts behind the finishing line will make for an exceptional backdrop. Everything points to a good chance for a bunched sprint in the final. The escapees will be counting on the wind to trouble the pursuit, rather than the difficulties of the terrain.

Stage 11, July 10: Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel, individual time trial, 33km: Stage 11 is the second race against the clock, but the first where riders will set off alone. At 33 kilometers the gaps will be shorter than they were in the 2012 Tour, but the climbers will still seek to limit their losses as much as possible.

The stage finishes at the famous Mont-Saint-Michel, a rocky tidal island which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and which is separated from the land by sea at certain times of the day.

CP: It will be hard to steal the limelight from the Mont-Saint-Michel - a sumptuous visual feast for the riders. The thirty kilometre route of this time trial will perfectly suit the specialists in the field and seasoned cyclists. The magical site and the majestic decor will provide a stunning setting for the winner's photos.

Stage 12, July 11: Fougères to Tours, 218km: This appears to be another stage for the sprinters, being flat and fast. Tom Boonen led the bunch home in 2005, while Tours is the finish point for the Paris-Tours autumn Classic, which often goes down to a big gallop.

CP: After taking off and heading to Laval and the Mayenne area, the peloton will witness, in the heart of the Val de Loire, the castles of Langeais and Villandry. The day's course without any major climbs will look a lot like Paris-Tours. But the finish line will be set in front of the Parc des Expositions and no longer on the Avenue de Grammont.

Stage 13, July 12: Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond, 173km:
Stage thirteen looks to be yet another rendezvous for the sprinters, who will be keen to strike wherever they can prior to a tough final week.

CP: A journey to the centre of France... The route which will take the riders from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond will go through the Touraine and then the Berry countryside. The pace should be fast, but the riders will have to keep their wits about them as, on the flat, the wind may add a little spice to the day's proceedings.

Stage 14, July 13: Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule to Lyon, 191km: This lumpy stage could well reward the aggressive riders, with a smattering of ramps giving them opportunity to shake things up.

CP: The conquest of Lyon will be no mean feat. After a hilly first part to the stage, two major difficulties will show up: the Côte de Bourg-Thizy followed by the Col du Pilon. In the city of Lyon itself will be included the steep climbs up the Croix-Rousse and La Duchère. The punchers could well trouble the hopes of the sprinters.

Stage 15, July 14: Givors to Mont Ventoux, 242km: One of the Tour’s most famous climbs crops up on Bastille Day and is certain to lead to another big shakeup. The race last visited the climb in 2009, when Juan Manuel Garate beat Tony Martin to take the stage. Their break succeeded on that occasion, and riders will look to that as encouragement that it’s possible to hold off the pure climbers behind.

After starting in Givors, the stage will follow a lumpy profile as it races towards the final climb. There are no categorised ascents en route to Ventoux, but the road is sufficiently undulating to enable groups to go clear and build time.

The final ascent is 20.8 kilometres long, averages 7.5 percent and is regarded as one of the toughest climbs in France. It has the potential to bring about serious gaps in the general classification, and should be one of the most iconic finishes in the centenary Tour.

CP: This will be a day of contrasts. The initial stretch of this stage will be contested on the flat, where riders will need to pace themselves. This will be a determining factor in the final to be fought out on the formidable slopes of Mont Ventoux. The 14th July is an auspicious date on which the climb up Mont Chauve could provoke yet another revolution. This time, in the general classification of the Tour.


July 15: Rest day, Vaucluse province:
The second and final rest day is situated close to the previous day’s climb and will once again see the riders get in some training and media work, in addition to resting and eating well.

Stage 16, July 16: Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap, 168km:
The start town has been used just once before in the Tour, back in 2002, but Gap has appeared no less than 21 times. Winners there include Jean Francois Bernard in 1986 and Pierrick Fédrigo, who triumphed two decades after that.

The Tour visited Gap again in 2011, where Thor Hushovd got the better of his Norwegian counterpart Edvald Boasson Hagen. A breakaway is very possible, depending on how the bunch rides.

CP: The approach to the Alps, that will be the scene of a final week of intense action, can provide an opportunity for all-rounders to deploy their talents. The day's climbs will probably see the best climbers clinging together. However, one will need a fast pace to triumph in Gap after a long final straight.

Stage 17, July 17: Embrun to Chorges, individual time trial, 32km:
The race’s second time trial is considerably more tricky than the first, with Tour de France race director Jean-Francois Pescheux saying that it is the toughest race against the clock that he has ever designed. With what is termed irregular climbs and difficult descents, riders will have to gauge their efforts perfectly and also pay attention to safety.

CP: With the blue waters of Serre-Ponçon Lake in the background, this second individual exercise will once again take place in picture postcard surroundings. The distance to be covered will be almost the same as in the previous exercise, but things could open up for other challengers, as the terrain will be much more mountainous.

Stage 18, July 18: Gap to l’Alpe d’Huez, 168km:
The third summit finish of the race comes on a day which will be one of the big highlights for the hundreds of thousands of spectators on the ground and the millions watching on television. For the first time ever, the Alpe d’Huez climb will be climbed twice in one stage; one of the Tour’s most iconic climbs will thus play a very important part in the day’s action, and also in the overall classification itself.

Shortly after leaving Gap, the peloton will scale the first of five categorised climbs, the Col de la Manse. After over an hour of lumpy roads, the riders will climb the Col d’Ornon, then race into Bourg d’Oisans (km 104) and begin the first ascent of Alpe d’Huez. Just before the traditional summit, the route will veer off and begin the third category Col de Sarenne (km 127.5), then plunge down a long descent for the final battle on the Alpe.

CP: This will, without doubt, be a long awaited and memorable day in the 100th edition of the Tour. For the first time, there will be a double helping of nerves for the riders who will be dreading the double climb of the Alpe d'Huez, and rightly so. With its notorious twenty-one hairpin bends, it is also one of the most telegenic climbs in France.


Stage 19, July 19: Bourg d’Oisans to Le Grand Bornand, 204km: The second-last mountain stage will begin at the base of Alpe d’Huez, in the town of Bourg d’Oisans, and almost immediately the riders will tackle the Col du Glandon (km 83.5). Fifty kilometres later the bunch will crest the 2000 metre Col de la Madeleine, then the smaller ascents of the Col de Tamié and the Col de l’Epine. The final climb of the day is the Col de la Croix Fry, which tops out 12.5 kilometres from the finish and will be followed by a quick descent down to the line.

CP: This second alpine stage will present plenty of opportunities for those who want to shake up the order of the pack, in particular during the climbs on the Glandon and Madeleine passes. The descent into Le Grand-Bornand (around a dozen kilometres in length) on the other side of the Croix Fry pass, promises to deliver a moment laden with suspense.


Stage 20, July 20: Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz, 125km: The final mountain leg of the 2013 Tour may feature just two categorised climbs, but the stage is up and down from the drop of the flag in Annecy. The 1436 metre ascent of Mont Revard peaks 78.5 kilometres later, then a long descent and flat section will bring the riders to the base of the final Annecy-Semnoz climb, which will see the final general classification battles of this year’s Tour being fought out on the 10.7 kilometre ramp to the line.

CP: Anything could still happen during this penultimate stage, where only the first part of the race, around Lake Annecy, will be on the flat. After this, a group of climbs, to include Mont Revard, should see a number of attacks. The unprecedented finish in Semnoz involves climbs which are sharp enough to cause a last minute upset...


Stage 21, July 21: Versailles to Paris/Champs-Elysées, 118km: The final stage of the Tour is generally a procession for the race winner, although the final hour and a half of racing is progressively faster as the final sprint approaches. Rumours that the race would finish on Alpe d’Huez proved to be unfounded, but there is one final surprise: the stage will finish far later that usual, with an estimated 9.45 pm conclusion on the Champs Elysees.

The centenary Tour will also have another interesting touch: rather than turning several hundred metres after the finish line, the riders will continue right up to the Arc du Triomphe, arcing around the monument and then racing down the other side. That plus the floodlit roads should make for a spectacular conclusion to the race.

CP: The final stage of this 100th edition of the Tour represents a rare privilege for the peloton. The first few yards of the race will be inside the grounds of the château de Versailles before the pack heads towards Paris, where the riders will fight it out on the final circuit. This is where the candidates for a last exploit will launch their last-ditch attack on the sprinters.


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