The 1st stage of the 2018 Tour de France starts on Île de Noirmoutier, a small island off the Atlantic coast of France. The riders cross the bridge to the mainland for an arrival in Fontenay-le-Comte. We should expect a fast finisher to be the first man in yellow, although echelons are a potential risk. Much of the route follows the twisting Vendée coastline, so cross winds could be lurking during the entire day.
Stage 2 runs from Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to La Roche-sur-Yon on gently rolling roads, so sprinters will be eyeing this one, too. The 3rd stage is a team trial of 35 kilometres featuring a few short climbs with gradients of approximately 5%. In 2015, the last Tour de France’s TTT was played out in Plumelec and BMC took the honours 1 second ahead of Team Sky.
The 4th stage sets off in coastal town La Baule to finish a false flat arrival in Sarzeau, while stage 5 travels on a hilly route to trying last kilometre in Quimper. Stage 6 takes in a double ascent of the Mûr-de-Bretagne in finale. In 2015, Alexis Vuillermoz bested Daniel Martin and Alejandro Valverde on the steep arrival.
With stage 7 and stage 8 – both likely candidates for a bunch sprint – the Tour de France leaves Brittany behind to head for the highlight of the first week of action: cobbles. Three editions ago the race featured its last cobbles, but in the 2018 edition the medieval stretches of pavé will be back with a bang. The 9th stage leads from Arras and Roubaix and takes in no less than fifteen cobbled sectors.
The first rest day will be in Annecy before the 10th stage leaves from the lakeside town for a stage to Le Grand-Bornand. The route travels over the Col de de Croix Fry, Montée du Plateau des Gières, Col de Romme and Col de la Colombière to conclude with descent into Le Grand Bornand. Stage 11 heads for a summit finish in ski-resort La Rosière, while Montée de Bisanne, Col du Pré and Cormet de Roselend are tackled as intermediate climbs. This is a short (110 kilometres) and possible explosive stage.
The 12th stage runs from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to a summit finish in L’Alpe d’Huez. The route takes in intermediate climbs up the Col de la Madeleine and the Col de la Croix de Fer – both massive at over 25 kilometres long – and amounts to more than 5,000 vertical metres.
Stage 13 travels from Bourg d’Oisans to Valence for a likely bunch sprint before the stage 14 serves a punchy finale in Mende. At the end of the 15th stage the riders fly down a descent of more than 30 kilometres to a flat run-in to the line in Carcassonne.
The last week of action brings three mountain stages in the Pyrenees. At 218 kilometres, the 16th stage goes from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de Luchon. The last 70 kilometres feature three tough climbs, while the race ends on descent. Stage 17 amounts to merely 65 kilometres, yet 38 kilometres are uphill, so this route is bound to be the tonic to ignite the fireworks big time. The arrival is at the Col de Portret after a 16 kilometres climb at 8.7%.
In stage 18 the peloton temporarily heads out of the Pyrenees for a flat finish in Pau, which should be a chance for the fast men, before it’s climbers alert again in the 19th stage. The last mountain race of the 2018 Tour de France takes in iconic climbs up the Aspin, Tourmalet and Aubisque before a 20 kilometres drop into Laruns. The altitude gain on this route amounts to 4,800 metres.
The 20th stage is a hilly individual time trial of 31 kilometres in the French part of the Basque Country, while the 2018 Tour de France ends where La Grande Boucle always ends: on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The 21th stage starts in Houilles.
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Tour de France 2018: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Stage 6: Mûr de Bretagne
Stage 10: Plateau des Glières
Stage 10: Col de Romme en Colombière
Stage 11: La Rosière
Stage 12: Alpe d'Huez
Stage 14: Côte de la Croix Neuve
Stage 16: Col du Portillon
Stage 17: Col de Portet
Videos final 5 K
Noirmoutier and Paris at Google maps
Presentation of the route
Video: hoogtepunten 2017