The 2016 Tour de France will visit the Pyrenees, Mont Ventoux, the Alps, and Bern in Switzerland, with a rolling 37km individual time trial into the Gorges de l’Ardeche valley on stage 13 and a mountain time trial between Sallanches and Megève on stage 18 separating the nine mountain stages and four mountain top finishes.
With no cobbled stage, no prologue time trial or team time trial, the 2016 Tour de France seems tilted in favour of the climbers, perhaps giving French riders Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet a real chance to take on Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana in 2016.
The full route was unveiled at the official presentation of the race in Paris on Tuesday morning with Froome celebrated as the winner of this year’s Tour de France. Also in Paris were Mark Cavendish, Tony Martin, Andre Greipel, Pinot and Daniel Teklehaimanot, who was part of the debuting MTN-Qhubeka team at this year’s race and wore the climber’s polka-dot jersey early on.
The 2016 Tour de France – the 103rd edition – will start in the northern Manche region of France, overlooking the English Channel, with three road stages across the region. The first starts in the shadows of Mont-Saint-Michel island and finishes along the windswept shores of Utah Beach that will always be remembered for the D-Day landings of World War II. Sea breezes could shake up stage 2 before it finishes atop the Côte de la Glacerie in Cherbourg, offering world champion Peter Sagan a perfect finish to show off his rainbow stripes.
The race will then quickly head south via Angers, Limoges and Montauban, with stages for the sprinters if they can control the breakaways and attacks. Stage five is hilly but not difficult. It celebrates the 80th birthday of French idol Raymond Poulidor by passing through his town of Masbaraud-Mérignat, showing that Le Tour never forgets its greatest second-placed rider of the past.
The mountain stages in the Pyrenees will be brief but intense with a finish in Lac de Payolle and then an up and down 183km stage to Bagnères-de-Luchon. The stage starts with the Col de la Tourmalet and ends with the Col de Peyresourde and a rapid descent to the finish. It seems perfect for a long breakaway.
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