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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Tuesday, October 15, 2019: Extra!

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories | Commentary | Our YouTube page
2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

Reactions to 2020 Tour de France Route

Here's our 2020 Tour de France page.

We'll start with Team INEOS' Egan Bernal, winner of the 2019 Tour:

Egan Bernal is ready for a hard but exciting edition of the Tour de France as the route for the 2020 edition was unveiled.

2019 winner Bernal and Team INEOS Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford both expressed their excitement at a mountainous route, with the action set to begin on June 27 in Nice.

Egan beranl

Can Egan Bernal do it again? Sirotti photo

For Bernal the presentation marked a return to the French capital for the first time since clinching the yellow jersey on stage 21 of the 2019 race. “It’s special to be here again in Paris. I think it will always be special for me,” he said.

TDF volume 1

“It will be a really hard Tour de France. It will be different without a team time trial and just one time trial, with an uphill finish. I think it will be a different Tour, one that people will really like, as I think there will be a lot of attacks in the final climbs.”

Bernal admits that the race’s lone time trial, with a summit finish on La Planche des Belles Filles, is an advantage to him versus flatter courses of recent years. He added: “For me it’s a little bit better this time trial than if it was a flat one. I think specialists will also be good in this time trail – they know how to do a good time trial even if it is uphill. It’s still a time trial, but for me it’s better like this.”

Having run the rule over the route, Brailsford is excited at the prospect of a tough climbing challenge – one which he believes will favour the riders of Team INEOS. He explained: “It’s a constant challenge all the way through. The climbing is more spread out than usual and they haven’t got the classic set-piece stages in the Alps or the Pyrenees. It will be strong teams, strong riders and strong racing. I’m really looking forward to it, I think it’s fantastic.

“I think it will definitely suit our team. Particularly in the back-up team, you’re going to have to have really strong all-round riders – guys who can climb and ride on the front. That’s one of the elements of our team that we’re really good at. Of course with the guys we’ve got who can lead the team, we’ve got different riders who can do really well in this race.”

With the Tour stages confirmed, Brailsford and the team will now wait for the routes of the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana before drawing up a plan over the winter.

On the next steps, he added: “Now we’ll take it away as always, look at the Giro course, look at Vuelta as well. We’ll look at all of it and do a big analysis. We’ll look at our tactics, plans and who is going to do what throughout the season. It’s an enjoyable part of the job – it’s like a puzzle. By the middle to the end of November we’ll have our plan.”

And here's what 2013, '15, '16 & '17 Tours winner Chris Froome had to say:

Chris Froome is relishing the prospect of returning to the Tour de France next season. The Team INEOS rider is ramping up his training as he continues his return from the serious injuries he sustained at the Criterium du Dauphine.

Speaking on Tuesday as a mountainous route was presented in Paris, the four-time race winner believes the parcours should lead to a thrilling event, with Froome targeting his Grand Tour return in June.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome will be 35 years old when he starts the 2020 Tour. Sirotti photo

“I think it’s a brutal Tour – probably the hardest I’ve seen in the last five or six years at least,” he explained. “It’s great – there’s loads of opportunities for the general classification to play out and the main rivals to go head to head. That’s what everyone wants to see. It should be an exciting race, hopefully it will live up the same standards as this year.

“There are no guarantees in sport but I’m going to give it everything I have.”
Froome’s motivation to return has never been in doubt, with the Brit now able to focus on the challenge at hand, with the profile of all 21 stages now revealed.

He added: “Initially when I woke up in the ICU, all I wanted to hear was that it would be possible to come back to the same level. As soon as I knew that then everything was so much clearer for me. I had a clear goal and that’s to get back to the Tour de France next year.

“Given the injuries I’ve had I think a lot of people would have seen that a career-ending crash. I’m extremely lucky to be where I am now. I just see it as such an amazing opportunity that I have ahead of me now, that we’re even talking about coming back for next year.

“I’ve still got a big plate on my hip at the moment. Hopefully at the end of this month we’ll remove that. From that moment on hopefully things should start to improve even more.”

Froome also expanded on the support he’s received during his rehabilitation. He said: “I’ve been extremely lucky over the last few months to have the support that I’ve had from family, friends and the team. The rehabilitation has gone as well as I could have hoped. I’m back on the bike now, so I get out for two or three hours most days. But I’m working quite hard off the bike as well, trying to improve the strength of the leg that I broke.”

Team INEOS Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford was also in Paris to see the route revealed and explained that Froome’s great mental strength will be a major asset as he continues his comeback.

He said: “He’s back training now and doing efforts. He’s still got a long way to go, there’s no doubt about that, but he’s on the right track. He’s very motivated and psychologically he’s very motivated, which is the most important thing. He hasn’t let it knock him back – if anything it’s made him stronger.

“He gets up early in the morning with his physio and he has something on all day with his recovery programme. He’s more determined now than he’s ever been. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so hungry and determined.

“When he sees this course and this route he’ll be ready to go. He knows the roads down in Nice and that first block very well. It’s a hard, mountainous race. People are going to be really tired at the end of this race, so that final mountain time trial will be important. Somebody like Chris and the guys will be looking at that thinking ‘I can win that.’”

Julian Alaphilippe's Deceunick-Quick Step team posted this reaction:

The route of the 107th Tour de France is out and even though not all the stage profiles have been unveiled, it’s more than clear that next year’s edition will favour the climbers, six daunting summit finishes (including an uphill time trial) being spread out over the 3470km-long parcours which starts from Nissa La Bella, host of the Grand Depart for the first time since 1981.

Sprinters, puncheurs and baroudeurs – they will all have opportunities next summer, between June 24 and July 19, but the spotlight will be again on the yellow jersey contenders, who are expected to light up the fireworks on Orcières-Merlette, Mont Aigoual, Grand Colombier, Villard-de-Lans, Méribel, and La Planche des Belles Filles – the mountain top finishes of an edition that will feature close to 30 tough classified ascents, including Plateau des Glières, Col de la Madeleine, Col de la Lusette, and Col de la Hourcère.

Julian Alaphilippe was one of the stars of this year’s Tour de France, shining brightly in what has been a spectacular July for him and Deceuninck – Quick-Step and leaving an indelible mark over his home race, which saw him put in an electric performance and spend 14 days in the yellow jersey; to this, he added two tremendous stage victories, in Épernay and Pau, and a top 5 overall in Paris, where he took to the podium to be awarded the most aggressive rider of the race prize.

Julian Alaphilippe

Will the magnificently talented Julian Alaphilippe make it to Paris in yellow in 2020? Sirotti photo

The 27-year-old Frenchman was among the riders who attended Tuesday’s presentation held in the Palais des Congrès, and shared his thoughts on the route: “I will study the parcours in detail together with the team, but what I can already say is that it’s one of the toughest editions in recent years, with a demanding opening weekend in the south that will create some gaps and several gruelling climbs. On paper, there are a couple of stages that suit me, but I will know more once I do the recon. What I can tell you for now is that I won’t go for the general classification, as next season I will have other goals. Overall, is a parcours that I like, with many new climbs, which will make the race more interesting and spectacular, but at the same time, harder, and I can’t wait to be at the start in Nice.”

Here's the report from Steven Kruijswijk's & Dylan Groenewegen's Jumbo-Visma team:

Steven Kruijswijk and Dylan Groenewegen see opportunities in the 2020 Tour de France. The number three of the last edition speaks of a ‘challenging course’. Just like this year, Groenewegen sees an opportunity to grab the yellow jersey in the first stage.

Kruijswijk is pleased with the route. “In recent years, the Tour organisation has provided a tough and challenging course. The upcoming Tour contains surprising elements with a climb time trial on the penultimate day and mountain stages in the first week. I am happy with this course. It’s going to be a Tour in which you have to be good from start to finish.”

Four-time stage winner in the Tour Dylan Groenewegen: “It’s a Tour with many uphill stages. I expect that there are four to five real sprinter’s stages. I want to be the best sprinter in the world every year. Winning stages in the Tour contributes to that. It has previously been proven that a GC-rider and a sprinter can work together in a team. I like having lead out guys around me. We are going to carefully look at what opportunities there are for me.”

Dylan Groenewegen

Can Dylan Groenewegen (shown winning stage seven of the 2019 Tour) grab the Yellow Jersey after stage one?

Team Jumbo-Visma has no line up written out yet, sportive director Merijn Zeeman says. “We have to balance the different options. It is too early to provide a clear view. We do not yet know how many altitude metres there are and whether there are climbs in the final kilometres, for example. We are going to balance our opportunities and plan them well throughout the year. First, we will evaluate everything in detail. Step by step we will determine the line up and the strategy. Our team presentation is on 20 December. By then our plans will have become clear.”

Kruijswijk would like to participate in 2020’s La Grande Boucle. “Nothing has been decided or discussed yet, but if it were up to me, I will return to France. It’s up to the management to figure out what the exact plans are, but I have confidence in them.”

The 32-year-old rider also says that he expects many attacks during the Tour. “You’ll have to be eager to race, because it is a tough race from the beginning. The attackers will have enough opportunities on the many challenging climbs.”

The Grand Départ will be in Nice next year. As usual, the finish is on the Champs Elysees in Paris. The riders will have to conquer 29 mountains of the first, second and third category. What’s new is that all five mountain ranges in France are part of the course. This provides a variety of different types of climbs.

There are few opportunities for time trial specialists. On the penultimate day, only the climb time trial to La Planche des Belles Filles is on the program.

“At first glance, I am not really happy with the course, we would like an individual time trial and a team time trial. These are disciplines that we are good at. It is a pity that they are lacking”, Zeeman says.

Team Jumbo-Visma won the team time trial of this year’s Tour de France. According to him, the team has the qualities to perform well on this course. “We can’t go to the Tour de France with three leaders. Therefore another good option is to spread our chances. For example, winning the Vuelta a España for a second time, but winning the Giro d’Italia is also a fantastic goal of course.”

Team Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué reacts to the 2020 Tour reoute:

“To be honest, I don’t remember a single Tour de France which was held on roads from the Massif Central to the southern border for 85% of its length, and neither a route with so many different mountains all over the entire three weeks of racing, leaving such small room for the sprinters. It looks like, with those tough opening nine stages, we could well reach the first rest day with a clear picture of the final result. Obviously, it’s a route which will be applauded by the climbers, especially those able to do well on time trials, such as Thomas, Froome, Bernal, Dumoulin or Roglic amongst many others.

Eusebio Unzue

Eusebio Unzué. Sirotti photo

“It’s a really difficult Tour, at all levels. It’s a huge gamble on routes that really make the riders suffer, a mixture of mid-mountain stages and those with really long climbs, and it also features many climbs never used in the Tour or any other big race. It really shows that the organisers have made a big effort to leave their classic ingredients behind, staying away from that they’ve used for previous routes. Personally, we can’t feel sad about what we’ve seen here in Paris, and of course, it seems really difficult for anyone who’s not an excellent climber to get onto the podium in Paris.“

Team Bora-hansgrohe team had this to say about the 2020 Tour route:

The route of the 2020 Tour de France was presented in Paris today. The 107th edition of the race, which will take place between 27 June and 19 July, will commence with a Grand Depart in Nice. The 21 stages contain 29 categorized climbs as well as six mountain-top finishes. With the first mountain stage already coming on the second day, and the final mountain stage on the penultimate stage, this promises to be a challenging edition of the Tour.

Team Manager Ralph Denk said about the parcours: “The exact details of the route still cannot be fully known, but it appears as though the 2020 Tour de France will definitely be something for the climbers. The route will go into the mountains already from the start, which means that one has to be in good form right from the first day, and keep this up until the mountain time trial on the 20th stage. This is a particular challenge.

"I think that the stage after the first rest day also has the capacity to bring about changes. After the rest day, some riders experience problems, and in the event of echelons along the coast, riders can lose more time than on a mountain stage. A decisive stage of the race will be after the Place des Belles Filles. At that point, one will need to have enough left in the tank to fight for seconds in the final kilometres of the time trial. Afterwards when we’ll be closer to the German border, I’m of course hoping that many German fans will show up to support Emu. Overall, I think that the route suits Emu. There is only one time trial, and that takes place in the mountains. It will be important to be focussed right from the beginning, and he is capable of doing this. And there are several mountain stages, which will suit him as a climber. Without a team time trial, the composition of the team will also perhaps be slightly simpler for us than it was this year.” - Ralph Denk, Team Manager

Team Ag2r-La Mondiale sent me their reaction to the 2020 Tour route

Vincent Lavenu: "A Tour for the climbers"
"This is undeniably a Tour for the climbers, and therefore a Tour that matches the strengths of the AG2R La Mondiale team. The course passes not far from our headquarters, and that in particular motivates us. In 2020 again, we will work hard to arrive at the start with the team that can best influence the race."

Romain Bardet : "A very beautiful route"
"Once again the Tour de France has created a very beautiful route. The number of stages in the mountains will offer us the chance to put on a good show, and I imagine that many riders will want to take part. This presentation has given me the chance to see what we’ll be facing more clearly, and offers new elements to finish drawing the outlines of my 2020 season.

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet after stage 20 of the 2019 Tour. Sirotti photo

Pierre Latour : "A nervous route"
"It is a nervous route with fairly short stages and a lot of beautiful climbs. Even the flat sections promise to be exposed to the wind. I am happy to see that many stages will be held in my region. It's always nice to race at home. The time trial on the Planche des Belles Filles may also suit me well. After having missed the Tour in 2019, I cannot wait to be there."

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