Nice hosts its second Grand Départ, having previously seen the race set off in 1981 with a Bernard Hinault prologue victory. The 1st stage is a hilly out-and-back race in Nice, while the 2nd stage features the Col de Colmiane (16.3 kilometres at 6.2%), Col de Turini (14.9 kilometres at 7.3%), Col d’Èze (7.8 kilometres at 7%) and Col de Quatre Chemins (5.5 kilometres at 5.5%) before a flying descent back into Nice.
The Tour de France leaves Nice in stage 3. The riders will kick off from the Allianz Riviera, home stadium of OGC Nice, to travel through the lavender fields of the Provence to a finish in Sisteron. The 4th stage serves an early summit finish in Orcières-Merlette. The climb to the ski resort at 1,850 metres is 7.1 kilometres long and the average gradient sits at 6.7%. The penultimate kilometre goes up at 8.9%.
The 5th stage travels from Gap to a likely sprint finish in Privas, while the 6th stage traverses the rugged and remote Cevennes region for a summit finish at Mount Aigoual. The last 50 kilometres move through Florac, Vebron and Meyrieus, while the 26 kilometres finish climb to the Weather Observatory ends at an altitude of 1,565 metres. The long uphill is broken up by two false flats and short descents, which accounts for an average gradient of 3.3%.
The 7th stage from Millau to Lavaur is a transition race before the Pyrenees loom. Stage 8 rolls out from Cazères to tackle the Col de Menté, Port de Balès and Col de Peyresourde as intermediate ascents before the finale is a downhill into Loudenvielle. The 9th stage is set to finish in Laruns, where Primoz Roglic took the spoils in 2018 after riding away from the other favourites in the descent of the Aubisque. This time the race concludes with a downhill from Col de Marie Blanque before a false flat run-in of 6 kilometres to the line.
The first rest day comes after nine days of racing before the Tour resumes with stage 10, which is set on the Atlantic coast – start on Île d’Oléron and finish on Île de Ré. The 11th stage travels from Châtelaillon-Plage to Poitiers, while stage 12 is a long race to Sarran. In fact, this is the only leg of more than 200 kilometres.
By now, the riders have entered the heart of France and the traverse from west to east continues on the Massif Central with an arrival at the Pas de Peyrol – 11.4 kilometres at 5.7% – at the end of stage 13, which features an elevation gain of 4,400 metres. A race from Clermont-Ferrand to a tricky finale in Lyon is on the cards in stage 14 before the second week ends in the Jura Mountains with an arrival atop the Grand Colombier – in fact, the riders tackle the ascent three times in stage 15.
The 16th stage is a mountain race from La-Tour-du Pin to Villard-de-Lans before stage 17 will see a summit finish at the steep and unprecedented Col de la Loze. The 18th stage travels north through the Alps – traversing the steep and partly unpaved Montée du Plateau des Glières – to a finish in La Roche-sur-Foron.
An alluring scenario unfolds in the last days of the 2020 Tour as La Planche des Belles Filles serves as the ultimate uphill test. The 20th stage takes the form of a 36 kilometres individual time trial with the last 5.9 kilometres on this climb with an average gradient of 8.5%. A likely sprint finish in Champagnole in the 19th stage precedes this promising denouement.
Obviously, the Tour finishes in the 21st stage on the cobbles of the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Tour de France 2020: route, profiles, more
Click on the images to zoom