If Tadej Pogačar needed any more motivation to come in all guns blazing at the 2024 Tour de France, the final two stages start and finish in his backyard, on his training roads, near his home in Monaco.
The UAE Team Emirates rider was not there at the Tour de France route presentation in Paris on Wednesday, but was pleased with what he saw. There are five summit finishes across the three weeks, and two individual time trials stages seven and 21. On stage 19 and 20, there are summit finishes to Isola 2000 and the Col de la Couillole, respectively, before a hilly final day time trial in Nice.
Pogačar has fallen short of challenging Jonas Vingegaard at the Tour in the past two years, after triumphing in both 2020 and 2021, but will think himself capable of returning to the top step in 2024. Next year will be the first time the Slovenian is not eligible for the white jersey.
The route is challenging from the beginning, with 3,600 metres of climbing on stage one from Florence to Rimini, and stage two includes Bologna's San Luca climb twice towards the end
“The course is pleasant," Pogačar told L'Equipe" I really like the first week, [it is] a little harder than in past years. You will have to arrive in good shape from the start of the Tour.
"There is a difference in altitude, finishes for the sprinters, two time trials, which is super exciting. The mountain stages are pretty normal, nothing out of the ordinary, but it looks really good to me. Especially the last three days, the ones that will make the decision I think."
Stage 19 finishes atop Isola 2000, after the Col de Vars is first tackled, at 2,120m, and then the Col de la Bonnette, at 2,802m, marks the high point of the race. Then on the penultimate day, stage 20 feels like a Paris-Nice penultimate stage, with four famous climbs ascended.
The Col de Braus is first, 10.2km at 6.3 per cent, before the Col de Turini, 20.6km at 5.6 per cent, and then the Col de La Colimiane, 7.6km at 6.8 per cent, and then, finally the Col de la Couillole, 15.7km at 7.1 per cent. That's 4,500m of elevation in just 132km.
On stage seven of this year's Paris-Nice, Pogačar won on the Couillole, putting time into Vingegaard in the process, which could be a good omen.
He also has a good experience of late time trials in the Tour de France, with his triumph in a time trial on stage 20 over Primož Roglič in the 2020 race ensuring he captured that year's yellow jersey.
"It's not a classic end to the Tour where we perhaps have a difficult finish on the last three stages," Pogačar said. "Here, the last three days are super hard, without the Champs-Élysées usually reserved for sprinters.
"The time trial between Monaco and Nice is super interesting, I'm really looking forward to it but you will have to arrive at this final stage with good legs to win.
"Spending the Tour on roads where I train most of the year will be special. Just seeing the profiles, this end of the journey makes me smile. It really is full of promise."
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