Chris Froome has described the 2020 Tour de France route as “the hardest I’ve seen in the last few years”, with the four-time winner hoping to make his comeback from injury in time to compete for a record-equalling fifth title.
The 2020 course was unveiled today in Paris, with Froome’s Ineos team-mate Egan Bernal and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) also in attendance.
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Alaphilippe, who wore the yellow jersey for 14 days in 2019, agreed that next year’s race will be one of the toughest in recent years, adding that the “demanding opening weekend in the south will create some gaps and several gruelling climbs.”
Nice will host the Grand Départ,and its second stage will feature two climbs with gradients above 6 per cent, while stage four enters the Hautes-Alps with a summit finish to the ski resort of Ocières-Merlette at 1,875m.
“The course for next year is brutal, probably the hardest since the last five-six years. There are many climbs, elevation,” Froome added. “There are plenty of opportunities for the overall standings, which is good for the riders, for my team and for the fans.
“It should be exciting, obviously with the climax of this time trial on the Planche des Belles Filles. It’s going to be something we have not seen in decades.”
2019’s victor Egan Bernal will be suited to the amount of climbing in the 2020 edition, having taken his victory this year on the final two days in the Alps, he said: “What will make the 2020 Tour so unique is the steepness of the climbs.”
France’s great hope Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) will also be grateful for the number of uphill kilometres. At the 2019 edition the Frenchman looked to be on his way to winning France’s first yellow jersey since 1985, taking the Tourmalet summit victory at this year’s race, before crashing out as he was poised to lay siege to the overall classification.
“It’s a course that I like and matches me,” Pinot said. “There are very nice finishes at the top but also many stages in the intermediate massifs. It’s a wonderful course, I’m already looking forward to it. We’re going to pass my village, that will be special.”
Crucially, the route only includes 36km of individual time trialling, which will finish uphill to the Planche des Belles Filles, included in the race for the second year running. This will aid Pinot, who will prosper up the 5.9km climb at 8.3 per cent average gradient compared to usually having to limit his losses against the likes of Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) in races against the clock on the flat.
Alongside the parcours, the 2020 race is shaping up to be one that will be well fought, with a number of strong protagonists set to compete for the overall victory.
Ineos are not short of Grand Tour talent, and Froome has refused to be drawn on whether he or defending champion Bernal will be handed team leaderships responsibilities: “Nothing is decided for the Tour at the moment. I will try to get back to the level before I even discuss who will be the leader or whatever. But I’m going in the right direction, so I’m optimistic,” Froome said.