The 2018 Tour de France features Roubaix cobbles and a return to Alpe d'Huez - here's a look at the stages of this year's race
The Tour de France 2018 takes place almost entirely in its home country, but the route for the 105th edition of the race promises to be far from boring.
The 21-stage race offers an eclectic mix of challenges including everything from a return of the Alpe d’Huez to the rumble strips of the Paris-Roubaix cobbles plus a 65km road stage in the Pyrénées with, for the first time in Tour history, a gridded start.
The grid style start of stage 17 will favour those highest on general classification, in a twist that could light up what will be one of the shortest stages in the race’s history.
Whilst nearly all of the 3,351 kilometres of the route takes place in France, stage 16 enjoys a brief dip into Spain, from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon.
Tour de France 2018: current standings after stage nine
1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team in 36-07-17
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky at 43s
3 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors at 44s
4 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors at 50s
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team at 1-31
6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 1-32
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team at 1-33
8 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 1-42
9 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott at 1-42
10 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team at 1-42
Tour de France 2018 stages
|1||Saturday, July 7||Noirmoutier-en-l’Île to Fontenay-le-Comte – report||201km|
|2||Sunday, July 8||Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to La Roche-sur-Yon – report||182.5km|
|3||Monday, July 9||Cholet to Cholet – report||35.5km (TTT)|
|4||Tuesday, July 10||La Baule to Sarzeau – report||195km|
|5||Wednesday, July 11||Lorient to Quimper – report||204.5km|
|6||Thursday, July 12||Brest to Mûr de Bretagne – report||181km|
|7||Friday, July 13||Fougères to Chartres – report||231km|
|8||Saturday, July 14||Dreux to Amiens – report||181km|
|9||Sunday, July 15||Arras to Roubaix – report||156.4km|
|Rest Day||Monday, July 16||Annecy||–|
|10||Tuesday, July 17||Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand||158.5km|
|11||Wednesday, July 18||Albertville to La Rosière||108.5km|
|12||Thursday, July 19||Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Alpe d’Huez||175.5km|
|13||Friday, July 20||Bourg d’Oisans to Valence||169.5km|
|14||Saturday, July 21||Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteuax to Mende||188km|
|15||Sunday, July 22||Millau to Carcassonne||181.5km|
|Rest Day||Monday, July 23||Carcassonne||–|
|16||Tuesday, July 24||Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon||218km|
|17||Wednesday, July 25||Bagnères-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan/Col-du-Portet||65km|
|18||Thursday, July 26||Trie-sur-Baïse to Pau||171km|
|19||Friday, July 27||Lourdes to Laruns||200.5km|
|20||Saturday, July 28||Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette||31km (ITT)|
|21||Sunday, July 29||Houilles to Paris||116km|
The opening stage of the 105th edition of the race started in Noirmoutier-en-l’Île and was one of two flat stages to begin the race before a 35.5km team time trial starting and finishing in Cholet on stage three.
The opening two stages should have resulted in few time gaps between GC contenders, but crashes and mechanicals meant some of the biggest names such as Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) lost time.
From Cholet, the race heads north into Brittany, with a lumpy stage between Lorient and Quimper before the first uphill finish of the race coming on the Mûr de Bretagne on stage six.
The next important stage should be stage nine, a short 156.5km stage that will take on 21.7km of cobbles over 15 sectors on the way to the finish in Roubaix that is likely to be scheduled earlier in the day so as not to clash with the final of the football World Cup in Russia.
After a rest day in Annecy, the riders will face three days in the mountains, with back-to-back summit finishes at La Rosière and Alpe d’Huez, the first time that the Alpe has featured in the Tour since Thibaut Pinot won there in 2015. There will also be a little bit of gravel for the riders to deal with at Plateau des Glières on stage 10.
Stage 10 will also be used for La Course, the women’s race reduced to one day after the anti-climax of 2017’s pursuit-style time trial around Marseille.
The second half of the second week sees the race traverse France, including an uphill finish into Mende where Steve Cummings won in 2015.
The Pyrénées will be the race’s final mountain range for the first time since 2014, with five the south west of France, including a summit finish at the Col-de-Portet at the end of the 65km stage 17, the shortest road stage in the race for a number years.
The queen stage of the race comes two days later, with a hellish 200.5km stage between Lourdes and Laruns, taking in the Col d’Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, and Col d’Aubisque.
As was the case in 2017, the Tour de France will be decided by an individual time trial on the penultimate day, with a 31km time trial between Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle and Espelette. This stage has rolling climbs throughout, with a steep 900m climb just three kilometres from the finish.
As is traditional the 2018 Tour de France will finish in Paris where the winner will be crowned on the Champs-Élysées.
Tour de France 2018 route map
Tour de France 2018 route: stage profiles
Stage one: Noirmoutier-en-l’Île to Fontenay-le-Comte, 201km
Starting on the island of Noirmoutier-en-l’Île off the west coast of the Vendée region, this stage had originally planned to cross the Passage du Gois causeway. However after the race was pushed back a week due to the football World Cup, this causeway will now be covered by the tide, meaning riders will have to use the road bridge across the the mainland on the way to a flat finish in Fontenay-le-Comte.
Stage two: Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to La Roche-sur-Yon, 182.5km
A second flat finish on the trot should see the same sprinters contest the stage win as on the opening stage. However with time bonuses of 10, six, and four seconds available on the finish line, as well three, two, and one seconds available at another point on the stage, it’s possible that the yellow jersey could change hands.
Stage three: Cholet to Cholet, 35.5km (TTT)
When the race last started in the Vendée back in 2011, there was a team time trial, and the discipline returns in 2018, with a 35.5km test starting and finishing in Cholet that could see a few GC contenders lose time if they’re on weaker teams.
Stage four: La Baule to Sarzeau, 195km
Likely to be another stage for the sprinters, although with a smattering of Breton climbs that will trouble any riders who are short of form. Sarzeau will host a Tour de France stage finish for the first time in its history, which will surely be attended by the town’s mayor, and president of the UCI, David Lappartient.
Stage five: Lorient to Quimper, 204.5km
A tricky stage through Brittany, this stage features barely a kilometre of flat road as the riders face five categorised climbs and countless other uncategorised climbs over the 204.5km between Lorient and Quimper.
Stage six: Brest to Mûr de Bretagne, 181km
The first uphill finish of the race will take place on the Mûr de Bretagne, a two kilometre climb that has been used as a stage finish twice before: in 2011 when Cadel Evans showed the form that would see him win that year, and in 2015 by Alexis Vuillermoz. The climb itself ramps up to more than 10 per cent for the first kilometre, before easing off a little for the final 1,000m to the line
Stage seven: Fougères to Chartres, 231km
The longest stage of the race sees the riders come within just 85km (as the crow flies) of the Champs-Élysées, and, like the final stage just over two weeks later, is likely to end in a sprint finish.
Stage eight: Dreux to Amiens, 181km
The second of a pair of stages for the sprinters, stage eight finishes in Amiens, the hometown of French president Emmanuel Macron, where André Greipel won in 2015.
Stage nine: Arras to Roubaix, 156.5km
A short, but difficult ending to the first week, stage nine sees the riders tackle 15 cobbled sectors totalling nearly 22km, the greatest distance of cobbles included in the Tour’s last five ventures onto the pavé. A number of these sectors are taken from the parcours of Paris-Roubaix, including the five-star sector of Mons-en-Pévèle.
Stage 10: Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand, 158.5km
After a rest day by the shores of Lake Annecy the riders face their first mountain test of the race, with four climbs on the way to Le Grand-Bornand. Although the Col de la Colombière, which is crested just 15km from the finish, is probably the best known, the Montée du Plateau des Glières is arguably the toughest, averaging 11.2 per cent for six kilometres, and riders being greeted with a couple of kilometres of gravel roads after the summit.
Stage 11: Albertville to La Rosière, 108.5km
The shortest of the three stages in the Alps, stage 11 starts off with climbs of the Montée de Bisanne and the Col du Pré, both of which feature long stretches of gradients in double figures, before a more steady climb up to the summit finish in La Rosière. If you want an idea of how this stage will play out, then bare in mind that it is almost a carbon-copy of the penultimate stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Stage 12: Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Alpe d’Huez, 175.5km
Alpe d’Huez returns to the race for the first time since 2015, but before the riders get there they have to get over the other hors-categorie climbs of the Col de la Madeleine and the Col de la Croix de Fer, as well as the spectacular Lacets de Montvernier ise back in 2016. The famous 21 hairpins of the Alpe will then decide the stage winner, with the GC riders having no excuses to hold back with the race heading out of the mountains the following day.
Stage 13: Bourg d’Oisans to Valence, 169.5km
After three tough days in the mountains, the peloton can look forward to an easier day on the road to Valence. The finish should suit the sprinters, but don’t write off the chances of a breakaway.
Stage 14: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteuax to Mende, 188km
The uphill finish the the aerodrome at Mende is a Tour de France regular, with Steve Cummings being the last victor here in 2015. The steep climb of the Côte de la Croix Neuve averages more than 10 per cent for its three kilometres, before a flat finish on the aerodrome runway.
Stage 15: Millau to Carcassonne, 181.5km
If Peter Sagan has packed his climbing legs, then this stage is tailor-made for the three-time world champion. The finish into the spectacular walled city of Carcassonne is flat, but it is preceded by the 12.3km, 6.3 per cent climb of the Pic de Nore, which the riders will crest just over 40km from the finish.
Stage 16: Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon, 218km
A long day in the saddle to bring the race into the mountains, the first two-thirds of the stage are flat before the triple whammy of the Col de Portet-d’Aspet, the Col de Menté, and the Col du Portillon. This latter climb is relatively short at eight kilometres, but with should be crucial with just a 10km descent remaining to the finish.
Stage 17: Bagnères-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan/Col-du-Portet, 65km
No, that’s not a typo, this really is a 65km road stage – the shortest non-split road stage of the last 30 years. And packed into those 65km are three climbs, with the Montée du Peyragudes – where Chris Froome lost time in 2017 – and the Col de Val Louron-Azet, followed by the final summit finish of the race to Saint-Lary-Soulan/Col de Portet – an unrelenting climb averaging nearly nine per cent for its 16km length.
Stage 18: Trie-sur-Baïse to Pau, 171km
A chance for a bit of respite for the GC contenders, stage 18 will see the race temporarily head out of the Pyrénées for a flat stage into Pau. This is the last stage for the sprinters before the grand finale in Paris, so if the green jersey is still up for grabs then don’t bet on a breakaway.
Stage 19: Lourdes to Laruns, 200.5km
Arguably the queen stage of the race, the 200km stage between Lourdes and Laruns features some of the Tour’s great climbs in the Col d’Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, and Col d’Aubisque. With a time trial on the agenda for the following day, this is the last chance for the climbers to impose themselves on the race, especially those who can also take advantage of the descent to the finish in Laruns.
Stage 20: Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette, 31km (ITT)
As was the case in 2017, the penultimate day of the Tour will see the race decided in a time trial. The 31km length of the test means that there is even less individual time trialling than last year, again beating the record for the lowest number of individual time trial kilometres in the race’s history. However this final time trial is tougher than the 2017 stage in Marseille, with a tough, rolling parcours, and a 900m climb averaging 10.2 per cent just three kilometres from the finish.
Stage 21: Houilles to Paris, 116km
After the time trial in the far south west of the country, then Tour caravan will face a long drive up to Paris for the final stage of the race. As usual this will be a ceremonial stage contested by the sprinters, with the yellow jersey awarded on the Champs-Élysées.