The Tour de France yellow jersey will once again be decided by a time trial on the penultimate day in 2018, according to regional newspapers in south-west France, which report a race against the clock of around 30 kilometres in the Basque region.
The Sud Ouest newspaper had reported earlier this week that the town of Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle had been successful in its bid to host a stage start, and on Wednesday it confirmed that it would be a time trial stage – rather than a road stage – on July 28, one day from the traditional finale in Paris. The finish will be in the town of Espelette, with much the same information being reported by the regional arm of France Bleu.
Both sources talk of a rolling course around 30 kilometres in length, without a major climb but with undulating roads that will empty the legs after three weeks of racing.
The route for the 2018 Tour will be unveiled officially next Tuesday, October 17, in Paris. All that has been confirmed so far are the three stages that will form the Grand Départ in the Vendée region of north west France, though local press reports allow for more than a rough outline of the route to be drawn up in advance.
This year, it seems, the race will tackle the Alps ahead of the Pyrenees for the first time since 2014, after heading up into Brittany and across the north of the country for a stage finish in Roubaix. After the Alps, the race would make its way across the south of France for two or three stages in the Pyrenees that would feature the denouement in the fight for the yellow jersey.
Details of the final stages had been scarce, but Sud Ouest and France Bleu appear confident that, after the mountain stages, the riders will be racing the clock for the maillot jaune on the last day of true racing, the final stage into Paris being a largely ceremonial affair.
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