For the first time since its inception in 2014, the women’s La Course by Le Tour de France race will not be contested on the streets of the Champs Élysées. Instead, the Women’s WorldTour peloton will contest a 66km route ahead of the men on stage 18 from Briançon to the hors categorie Col d’Izoard in the Alps.
It’ll present a new test for the race after the sprint finishes of the last three years in Paris, won by Marianne Vos, Anna van der Breggen and Chloe Hosking respectively.
While the men will tackle a 129km stage from Briançon which takes them via the Col de Vars en route to the Izoard, the women will start a few hours and begin racing directly towards the foot of the climb. While the Izoard measures in at 14.1km at 7.3 per cent average gradient, the women’s peloton will only tackle the first 10km up to Casse Déserte.
That 10km however, features a nine per cent average gradient to the finish, a climb once described by former Tour de France director Jaques Goddet as “[a] harrowing trial which establishes the boundary between difficult and terrifying”.
The Col d’Izoard has featured 34 times in the history of the Tour de France, but will host its first summit finish in that time in the 104th edition. The amateur event L’Etape du Tour will also finish on the Izoard as thousands of riders take on the stage 18 parcours.