Tour de France 2015: The PEZ First Look!
The organizers of the biggest bike race in the World have announced the route of the 2015 French Grand Tour. It’s a tough parcours with a lot of climbing and very little time trialing, but the sprinters do get their opportunities. Our first thoughts: tough but fair.
The 2015 Tour de France route was unveiled Wednesday in the Paris Palais des Congress, not far from the Champs Élysées and the Arc du Triomphe, in front of an audience of riders, team managers and the press. Not all the top riders attended; Alberto Contador, Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana were missing, but last year’s winner Vincenzo Nibali saw what he was up against if he wants to keep his Tour crown.
Race director Christian Prudhomme ran through the stage details of the French Grand Tour, from Utrecht in Holland on the 4th of July to the last day in Paris on July the 26th.
Here is our ‘First Look’ at each stage of the 2015 Tour de France with the full route map and video at the bottom of the page:
Stage 1, Saturday July 4th – Utrecht to Utrecht 13.7 K (ITT):
Stage 1 runs through the city of Utrecht from west to east and back again on a flat circuit. The start is in front of the Jaarbeurs Utrecht Trade Centre, then to Stadion Galgenwaard, the football stadium of FC Utrecht. Past the Science Park, the university, the historical centre and Maliesingel before passing in front of the railway museum and finishing next to Utrecht central station. Not too technical, but it will split the field.
Stage 2, Sunday July 5th – Utrecht to Zelande 166 K (sprinter stage):
The race organisers describe the stage as being “in the sea,” finishing on the Zeeland Delta. Exposed to the wind there will echelons and crashes, but in the end should be one for the fast-men.
Stage 3, July 6th – Anvers to Huy 154 K (uphill finish):
Antwerp to the Mur de Huy, a mini Flèche-Wallonne. The GC hopefuls will want to show their form and it will suit just about all of them. If Philippe Gilbert rides this year’s Tour; it’s the stage for him and maybe a chance to take the Yellow jersey. The Pez himself went mano-a-Pezo with the Mur du Huy here.
Stage 4, July 7th – Seraing to Cambrai 221 K (cobbles):
13 kilometers of Paris-Roubaix pavé, the team leaders will have to be careful not to repeat the disastrous crashes of 2014. Vicenzo Nibali must be pleased.
Stage 5, July 8th – Arras to Amiens Metropole 189 K (sprinter stage):
A flat, fast stage with a near guaranteed sprint finish. Mario Cipollini is a past winner in Amiens.
Stage 6, July 9th – Abbeville to Le Harve 191 K (sprinter stage):
The stage route follows the Normandy coast and should be another one for sprinters, but again the cross-winds could be a factor. Splits could form with echelons, not a day to be at the back of the bunch.
Stage 7, July 10 – Livarot to Fougeres 190 K (sprinter stage):
The race moves from Normandy into Brittany with the same problem of coastal winds, but with the added disadvantage of the tough roads in the area. Breton roads breed hard riders like Bernard Hinault, a break could succeed if given too much space early on.
Stage 8, July 11 – Rennes to Mur de Bretagne 179 K (uphill finish):
Similar to stage 3 on the Mur du Huy, stage 8 finishes on the long and steep Mur de Bretagne, which has been named the Alpe d’Huez of Brittany. All the GC men will have to be firing on all cylinders at the stage end.
Stage 9, July 12 – Vannes to Plumelec 28 K (TTT):
Whatever has happened before this point could all be blown away by a bad team performance. The profile is flat and mostly straight, but the finish is up the 1.7 kilometer Cote de Cadoudal climb. Time could be gained or lost here.
1st Rest Day, July 13th:
It’s a rest day, but the race has to get from Brittany on the north-west coast down to the Pyrenees for the start of the proper battles.
Stage 10, July 14th – Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin 167 K (climbers stage):
A new climb to the Tour; La Pierre-Saint-Martin is very demanding, but before that there is the steeper Col de Soudet. This will be the first big appointment for the overall contenders.
Stage 11, July 15th – Pau to Cauterets/Vallee de Saint-Savin 188 K (climbers stage):
The Col d’Aspin and the Tourmalet will have to be climbed on the way to Cauterets/Vallée de Saint-Savin. Another hard stage that will shape the Tour.
Stage 12, July 16th – Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille 195 K (climbers stage):
The third day in the Pyrenees will be hard for everyone and the final climb to the Plateau de Beille is made for the pure climbers. There should be fireworks in the finalé.
Stage 13, July 17th – Murut to Rodez 200 K (climber/sprinter):
This is the sort of stage that would suit a rider like John Degenkolb, a rider who has a sprint at the end of some hard climbs. Not mountainous, but hard enough to get rid of the pure sprinter.
Stage 14, July 18th – Rodez to Mende 178 K (uphill finish):
Another day for Philippe Gilbert or Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodriguez could put in a good show on the Côte de la Croix Neuve which is 3 kilometres long with over 10% ramps.
Stage 15, July 19th – Mende to Valence 182 K (sprinters stage):
The Rhône Valley can be windy, but the lead-out trains should keep things in control for a fast sprint finish.
Stage 16, July 20th – Bourg-de-Peage to Gap 201 K (transition stage):
A break could succeed on the road to Gap. There has been many solo riders cross the finish line here, if not it will be another chance for the tougher of the sprinters.
2nd Rest Day, July 21:
The Alps are coming and with four excruciating days ahead all the riders will be looking forward to the break.
Stage 17 July 22th, Digne-les-Bains to Pra-Loup 161 K (climbers stage):
30 years ago Bernard Thévenet put an end to the reign of Eddy Merckx on the climb of Pra-Loup, but the Col d’Allos has to be tackled first. Both are fearsome, there could be heartbreak in these hills.
Stage 18 July 23th, Gap to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne 185 K (climbers stage):
From the start line the peloton has to climb the Col Bayard before the monster of the Col du Glandon. 10 kilometers before the finish the race hits the 18 bends of Montvernier, who ever is still in contention at that point will have to attack.
Stage 19 July 24th, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles 138 K (climbers stage):
Another horrendous stage, the profile is either up or down. The Col du Chaussy, a new climb for the Tour de France, the Col de la Croix de Fer followed by the Col du Mollard before the final climb up to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles. Anyone who isn’t on his knees by the end of the stage will be a winner.
Stage 20 July 25th, Modane Valfrejus to Alpe d’Huez 110 K (Climbers stage):
The climb to l’Alpe-d’Huez could the last hope to steal the race from under another riders nose. But there is the small matter of the Col du Télégraphe, the Galibier (highest summit of the 2015 Tour) before l’Alpe-d’Huez. The Tour is billing the stage as: “100 kms of pure drama!” They might be right, but it could also be a game of mountain climbing chess.
Stage 21 July 26th, Sevres via Grand Paris Seine Ouest to Paris Champs-Elysees 107 K (sprinters stage):
After the flight back to Paris the riders will have to race on those cobbles of the Champs-Élysées. The route will come in from a different direction to take in the west of Paris. And that will be the end of a very hard Tour de France.
What the Riders Think:
Last years Tour winner, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana): “It’s a nice Tour, more or less along the lines of 2014 in that it’s a tough course and you can’t take anything for granted, right from the first week. We’ll certainly have wind in Brittany, and the final week will be very tough with all the summit finishes. Maybe the course is missing a long time trial and I think that’s maybe a bit for the French riders who perhaps aren’t specialists, although they are still developing. Riders like Bardet, Barguil and especially Thibaut Pinot will like this course. I liked the pavé a lot this year, but I won’t undervalue it because there are always difficulties in that stage. I’ll need to do a recon, but I’m glad it’s in. I think it has a place in the cycling of today. We’ve seen it often at the Giro d’Italia with the Strade Bianche, so why not cobbles in the Tour too?”
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “The first stages are a bit different from the last few years. You have to be in good shape from the very first stage. It begins with a short time trial, but there will be time differences. We must to be strong in the two uphill finishes, because, although they’re short, sometimes there are bigger time differences here than on the long climbs. It will be very important to have a strong team to stay protected. This is also important on stage 4 with cobblestones, which we will have to see before determining how difficult they are. This first part of the Tour ends with a team time trial in which it will be important not to have lost riders in crashes or from illness, because a stage like this will be different if you have lost two riders in contrast to having a full team ready. The key to this first part will be to avoid losing time, as it will be in the mountains, where this particularly mountainous and demanding Tour will be decided. The uphill finishes in the Pyrenees will be very important, just as is the finish in Mende, a finish that I know well. Despite being short, there will be differences on this climb. In the 2015 edition, the recovery from all that effort will be very important, especially if you look at the last week in the Alps. It will be very complicated in case you have to defend the lead, although the last week gives many tactical possibilities in case you have to attack. In general, it’s a Tour where you have to arrive in good shape and stay fresh and well recovered until the very end. I like this Tour, it’s harder than what the last years have been and requires me to recover well from the Giro d’Italia. But I will prepare myself thoroughly.”
Chris Froome (Sky): “The team and I will have to give it some careful consideration before we make any commitments to which of the grand tours I will compete in. I see myself as quite a balanced GC rider and the Giro with its inclusion of a long TT of 60km and tough uphill finishes will make it a well balanced race which suits me well. If I did the Giro I may also be able to get myself back to top shape for the Vuelta and go there with a realistic chance of aiming for the win. There’s no two ways about it, next year’s Tour is going to be about the mountains. There’s very little emphasis on time trialling which means the race will be decided up in the high mountains. With 6 mountaintop finishes it is going to be an aggressive and massively demanding race. In the past I’ve only targeted one grand tour each season but it could be a good opportunity for me to focus seriously on two. It’s still early days though and we’ll have to sit down and put our heads together as a team to work out what 2015 is going to look like for us. I actually quite enjoy the challenge of riding on the cobbles. It’s a difficult and stressful obstacle for us to overcome when it’s part of a race like the Tour de France, but we’re all in the same boat and there’s no reason why I’d be any worse off than any of the other GC contenders. The cobbles were not the cause of my departure from the Tour this year, it was the crash on the previous stage which could have happened to anybody. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Alberto Contador will be the man to beat, you can never discount the likes of Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali and other GC contenders like Purito (Rodriguez) and Valverde. Alberto is the guy who stands out though. He came back after his injury in an amazing way to win the Vuelta España title this year and I expect him to be just as strong next season.”
Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “On paper, it looks like a good route for me, it suits me well. Very few kilometers of time trials, plenty of mountains… the only thing that could become worrisome is the pavé. It’s a day where, just as we saw this season, we have to pay full attention – I mean, you won’t probably win the Tour there, but you might lose it. You must keep that into account and stay much focused on it, because it’s going to be long and the last two sections will be especially tricky and demanding. With so many mountain-top finishes, the route plays on my favour, and though I’m still to confirm my race schedule, I’ll probably plan my training on coming at 100% and fight for the win. Those are really good climbs for me, plus the TTs are not long at all this year – I’m not afraid of the TTT, though, because we’ve already proven what we can do. Of course, having the world’s number one by my side makes me more calm and confident, but it won’t be just Alejandro, but the whole team. I’m sure we will bring a strong squad to the start. This team always goes into a race to win it.”
Tony Gallopin (Lotto Belisol): “The first nine days of the Tour 2015 are very tricky and can offer lots of spectacle. The wind could play a crucial role in the second stage through Zeeland and in the sixth stage to Le Havre. Just like last year there’s a cobblestone stage and there are several opportunities for punchers. The stages to Huy, Mûr de Bretagne and Mende suit me. After the first rest day there’s lots of climbing to do, it will be a very tough Tour. We should definitely be able to be successful with the team. The past edition I won a stage and wore yellow one day, on the French national holiday. This was the first time I was live at the Tour presentation. When I saw the images of my stage win and myself in the yellow jersey it gave me goosebumps, especially with the music and the impressive Palais des Congrès as location.”
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step): “I’m quite happy with this Tour. A lot of the starts and finishes we’ve done before at past editions of the Tour de France. It’s a flattish first week, which is good for the sprinters. There are few good opportunities for the sprint in the first week, plus two more occasions in the last 2 weeks including the Champs-Élysées. I won on the Champs four times and I’m looking forward to trying again. The number of chances for a sprint at this Tour are outstanding for me. This route will still provide some good finishes for the GC guys. I think it’s a very nice route. It’s still going to be hard, we’ll still be going full gas every day. If there are windy conditions in any stages that first week, we’ve got the best team in the world to handle that as we’ve shown in past Tours de France. Omega Pharma – Quick-Step is filled with strong guys that know how to animate races, particularly in crosswinds. I’m more excited about those possibilities than nervous. This Tour leaves good chances for sprinters and plenty for GC riders as well.”
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “It’s a beautiful Tour for me, and also for Nairo, because it has few kilometers of time trialling, just the 14km on day one and the Plumelec TTT, with only 28km. Those eight mountain-top finishes make this Tour a very hard one, probably the most in the last few years. I’m surprised they left so few terrain for TT specialists, but also the fact that the mountain stages are shorter than in previous times, quite shorter. The race route looks more like the Vuelta’s. As I’ve already stated many times before, I know what my place would be there, and even more considering how well this route suits Nairo. If I make it to the start, I think we can make a good duo, as we did in this year’s Vuelta before he crashed. I think this Tour is really good for the team. We didn’t talk yet about my calendar and we won’t probably be doing it until the first training camp in mid November. Before we see there what’s the best thing to do, I won’t start thinking about which GT’s I’ll ride in 2015.”
9 flat stages
3 hill stages
7 mountain stages with 5 altitude finishes
1 individual time-trial stage
1 team time-trial stage
2 rest days.
6 new stage cities:
Utrecht, Zélande, Livarot, La Pierre-Saint-Martin, Muret, Sèvres – Grand Paris Seine Ouest.
Points Classification: Bonus for Victory!
A new points distribution system will be implemented on the 9 flat stages of the 2015 Tour de France to give more importance to stage victories:
New points distribution on “flat” stages: 50, 30, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 points for the first 15 riders completing the stage.
Le Parcours du Tour de France 2015