The 1st stage of the 2019 Tour de France begins on the central square of Brussels, called Grand Place or Grote Markt. The race heads for the Wall of Geraardsbergen and Bosberg – both Flemish Classics hallmarks – to turn back to Brussels via Charleroi, Villers-la-Ville and Sint-Pieters-Woluwe. It’s a special moment when La Grande Boucle moves through Sint-Pieters-Woluwe, as Eddy Merckx spent his youth here. In 1969, the Cannibal also took his first maillot jaune in the place where he spent his early years.
The 2nd stage is a gently undulating team time trial of 28 kilometres. The teams roll down the start ramp near the Royal Palace, while the finish is near the Atomium. The boulevards in Brussels are wide and straight, so top speeds are to be expected.
The 3rd stage starts in the fortified Wallonian town of Binche and concludes with a punchy finale in the Champagne region in the north of France. A race from Reims to Nancy is included on the fourth day of action and the 5th stage travels from Saint-Dié-des-Vosges to Colmar.
The 6th stage runs to a summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles. The steep climb was included in La Grande Boucles of 2017 (Fabio Aru victory), 2014 (Vincenzo Nibali), and 2012 (Chris Froome). The ascent used to amount to 5.9 kilometres with an average slope of 8,5%, but the upcoming Tour de France is supposed to feature an extra section of approximately 1 kilometre on gravel road. The final kick up to the finish line is 100 metres on tarmac again (allegedly because it is too steep for gravel). This section begins with a stretch of 24%, which is the steepest ramp of the whole climb.
Stage 7 runs to Chalon-sur-Saône, while stage 8 is a hilly race to Saint-Étienne. Brioude hosts the arrival of the 9th stage. Romain Bardet was born in Brioude and the finale of this stage will be challenging. Stage 10 travels from Saint-Flour to Albi before the first rest day.
The Tour de France features the Pyrenees in its second week, but before tackling the high mountains stage 11 travels from Albi to a likely sprint finish in Toulouse. Following climbs up the Col de Peyresourde and La Hourquette, a downhill finish in Bagnères-de-Bigorre is included in the 12th stage. The 13th stage is a rolling ITT of 27 kilometres in Pau.
The last two days in the Pyrenees are sure to turn the overall classification upside down. Stage 14 is only 117 kilometres and features a summit finish at the Col du Tourmalet after a 19.4 kilometres climb at 7.4%, while stage 15 travels to a an arrival in the mountains above Foix. The race takes in the Port de Lers, Mur de Péguère and ends at the Prat d’Albis after a 11.8 kilometres climb at 6.9% with its steepest kilometre an astonishing 14.5% (average!).
Via Nîmes (stage 16) and Gap (stage 17) La Grande Boucle continues to the Alps. Stage 18 takes in intermediate climbs up the Col de Vars, Col d’Izoard and Col du Galibier before a flying descent to the line in Valloire.
Stage 19 finishes uphill in ski resort Tignes, while the mega long Col de l’Iseran will be the penultimate climb. The riders tackle the 32.9 kilometes to the summit of the Iseran around halfway. The average gradient is 4.2%, yet the last 3 kilometres are marked by double digit ramps. Following a descent to Val d’Isère the route rises to Lake Chevril – 7.4 kilometres at 7% – before the last 2 kilometres to Tignes are a false flat.
At 131 kilometres and featuring 4,450 vertical metres, stage 20 is set to act as the climax in the fight for the yellow jersey. At 2,300 metres, Val Thorens is Europe’s highest ski resort and it has hosted only one Tour de France finish. In 1994, Colombian Nelson Rodriguez climbed to victory on the hors catégorie slopes.
Of course, the 2019 Tour de France finishes on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The 21st stage will set off in Rambouillet.
Tour de France 2019: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Profile 19th stage
Profile 20th stage
Stage 6: Profile final km
Stage 12: Details Hourquette d'Ancizan
Stage 14: Details Tourmalet
Stage 15: Details Prat d'Albis
Stage 18: details Col de Vars
Stage 18: details Col d'Izoard
Details Col du Galibier
Stage 19: Details Col de l'Iseran
Stage 19: Details Montée de Tignes
Stage 20: Details climb Val Thorens