The Route d’Occitanie is a race with a lot of vertical gain. No stage serves less than 2,000 metres of ascent, but the Queen Stage is something else entirely. Played out on the third day this race takes in Port de Balès (19.1 kilometres at 6.1%) and Col de Peyresourde (9.7 kilometres at 7.5%) before finishing uphill on the Col de Beyrède (10.9 kilometres at 7.2%).
The grade on the Beyrède is far from consistent, so it’s hard to find the perfect pedaling cadence. The first kilometre is steep and then the uphill evens out. But from kilometre 7 onward it’s all systems go, while kilometre 8 – so with almost 4 kilometres to go – may be a good place to strike. The road goes up at 13% for 1 kilometre and the grade remains demanding until the flamme rouge. The last kilometre is merely a false flat.
Alejandro Valverde won the 2019 edition 8 seconds ahead of Iván Sosa. If the race once again comes down to such a close winning margin the final stage could be of interest. That race finishes atop a punchy climb in Rocamadour, where the first three riders earn time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds.
Favourites 2020 Route d’Occitanie
*** Egan Bernal, Thibaut Pinot
** Miguel Ángel López, Romain Bardet
* Chris Froome, Warren Barguil, Bauke Mollema