WHITEY’S TDF ROUTE REVIEW: ‘As far as the design of the course goes, I like it.’

Thu 25 Oct 2018

The 2019 Tour de France course was revealed in Paris today and there’s a few characteristics that move away from what we have seen at the Tour in recent times. We spoke to head sports director Matt White to get his thoughts.  

The 2019 Tour de France will cover 3460km across its 21 stages, with five altitude finishes, 30 cat-2 or harder climbs and just 54km of time trialling across two stages, of which one will be a team time trial. It will begin with the Grand Depart in Belgium and finish with the traditional stage on the Champs Elysees.

Whitey: “As far as the design of the course goes, I like it. It’s certainly got a bit for everyone, but, of course, the devil will be in the details and we need to see the profiles and the final three kilometres for those 6-7 ‘between’ stages to see what impact they will have.

“There’s two things that stand out for me - the altitude gain with how high we are going and then the distance of the stages.”

The altitude:
As the course was revealed, the major talking point was the heights in which the Tour de France would tackle in 2019.  There will be three finishes above 2000m - Col du Tourmalet, Tignes and Val Thorens – which is a first in history for the Tour de France.  Alongside the three altitude finishes, the route will pass six other peaks above 2000m.

Whitey: “It’s not necessarily the hardest Tour de France route climbing wise, but what’s different about this year’s route, is that I have never seen a Tour de France go so high. There is some serious altitude and climbs, high-wise. 

“There’s been Tour de France routes in previous years that haven’t gone above 2000m on any stage, and off the top of my head, there would be close to 10 times we are going over 2000m nest year, including some high finishes too. We’re going up a climb that’s 2700m, I’ve never heard of that is the Tour history and I think one of the stages next year is the highest finish the Tour has ever had.”

The distance:
With a total distance of 3460km across 21 days, there’s some long days in store. There are no less than eight stages of over 200km, the longest is stage seven at 230km, with another two over 190km.  At the other end of the spectrum, there are four short, punchy road stages under 131km in length.

Whitey: “It’s a long Tour, nearly 3500km, and the stages are either 200km+ or 120-130km, there’s not too much in between. There’s some long days, and then ther short days thrown in there are intense days.” 

Time trials:
Two time trials will feature on the 2019 course, the first a 27km team time trial on stage two and the second, an 27km individual time trial stage in the middle of the second week. The TTT course specifics are yet to be announced but will take place in the city of Brussels, whilst the stage 13 ITT features two short climbs.

Whitey: “The team time trial will be undulating, it will be solid, and the second time trial actually has two climbs in it.  Again, I don’t remember a Tour de France with this little time trialling, especially individual time trialling.

“The individual TT has a filthy stage to follow, probably one of the hardest stages of the Tour, so that can be a factor. Riders go so deep in a time trial, on different bikes, and some guys do pull up a bit rougher than others.”

Mitchelton-SCOTT Wrap:
Whilst final plans for 2019 won’t be determined until later in the year, once all Grand Tour routes have been released, Mitchelton-SCOTT has three general classification contenders with similar strengths, and the consensus is that the route is a good one for the Australian outfit. 

Whitey: “It’s a good course for us for the basic and obvious reason in that the individual time trialling is minimal and we are still one of the best team time trial teams.”

Photos: Kristof Ramon.