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Tour de France 2015 Preview

by Tim Lefebvre
TDF 2015 MAP  ©  A.S.O.

July 03, 2015 – The 102nd Tour de France runs from July 4-26 and covers 3,344km. The 2015 edition starts with a unique 14km ITT/Prologue through the twisty city streets of Utrecht, The Netherlands. The Tour will remain in the country famous for crosswinds, winding along the western coast before entering Belgium and testing the riders through the Ardennes and up the Mur de Huy.

Mur de Huy climb  ©  Cor Vos

If that doesn’t make the peloton nervous, certainly Stage Four into Cambrai along the cobbled roads made famous by the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix will strike fear into most riders’ hearts.

The pack riding the cobblestones  ©  Cor Vos

This year’s route can be categorized into two distinct parts.  The initial nine stages are held in Holland, Belgium and Northern France with flat windy stages on hand.  Mix in some cobbles and short punchy climbs, and there is plenty of opportunity for Classics specialists and sprinters to shine.

Froome  ©  Cor Vos

On that ninth stage, we will be witness to the epic 28m TTT from Vannes to Plumelec on the Brittany coast. The Tour will not be won in these first nine days, but it can certainly be lost, as we remember the unfolding of one Christopher Froome (Gbr) Team Sky last year.

Stage 10 PROFILE  ©  A.S.O.

The second half of the race will begin after a much needed rest day in Pau.  It is Bastille Day that ushers in Stage 10 from Tarbes to La Pierre Saint Martin, and the Pyrenees Mountains.  A vicious 15.3km climb with an average gradient of 7.4% at the end of the day will be the riders’ first test.

Stage 11 PROFILE  ©  A.S.O.

Stage 11 returns to Pau and heads out to Cauterets Valle de Saint Savin.  This is a beast of a 188km mountain stage with no less than six categorized climbs including the Col d’Aspin and the Tourmalet.

Stage 12 PROFILE  ©  A.S.O.

Plateau de Belle will host the finish of Stage 12, as the peloton will face the Col de Portet-d’Aspet,  the 14km Col de Core and the Port de Lers before climbing up to the 16 km, 8% climb up to the finish.

Mark Cavendish (l)  ©  Cor Vos
The sprinters will once again have their chances across the south in finishing towns like Rodez, Mende and Valence before the Pyrenees Mountain range is upon them.  After the second rest day in Gap, there will be four more mountain stages before Paris without any final ITT.

Stage 17 PROFILE  ©  A.S.O.

Stage 17 to Pra Loup is an interesting route as they climb the first category Col dè Allos with three third category climbs beforehand to warm up the legs.  It was here in 1975 where Bernard Thevenet ended Eddy Merckx’s string of Tour victories.

Stage 18 PROFILE  ©  A.S.O.

The Col du Glandon is an hors categorie 21.7 km monster of a climb that comes after five categorized climbs on a 195km day.  The 18th stage will also include the Lacets de Montvernier which has coincidentally eighteen switchbacks within a 3.8km climb that comes near the finish in St. Jean de Maurienne.

Stage 19 PROFILE  ©  A.S.O.

The peloton receives no rest on Stage 19 as the route includes the Col de Chaussy, the Col de Croix de Fer, the Col de Mollard and the 18km finishing climb of La Toussuiere les Sibelles.  At only 138km the day will definitely separate the men from the boys.

Stage 20 PROFILE  ©  A.S.O.

The penultimate stage is again short at 110 km, but it is packed with what the Tour faithful perennially anticipate.  It begins with the Col de Telegraphe, followed by the Cold du Galibier before the famed Alpe d’Huez with its storied 21 switchbacks.

A final plane transfer to Paris where the riders will ride from Sevres Grand Paris Seine Ouest to the Champs d’Elysees.  This is due to the fact that Christian Prudhomme had promised a new entry point into the town while continuing the now 40-year-old tradition of finishing on the famous boulevard.

Contador won the Giro - can he win the Tour as well?  ©  Cor Vos

The Contenders

There are four major contenders for the 2015 Tour title. Recent Giro champ Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) of Spain will battle defending champion Italy’s Vicenzo Nibali (Astana) in the high mountains and time trials. Movistar’s Nairo Quintana (Col) will without question be aiming for the top step, as will 2013 champion Chris Froome (Sky) of Great Britain.

Nibali wins  ©  Cor Vos

All four of these riders have incredible climbing talents combined with very capable teams to support them.  The difference could lie in the time trials, but with less than fourteen kilometers of individual time trialling in this year’s edition it will not be a major factor. Look for the tricky early stages and high mountains to affect the final outcome.

Svein Tuft  ©  Richard Wooles

Two Canadians will start in Utrecht this July.  Svein Tuft, the 38-year-old, will contest his fourth TdF for the Australian-based Orica GreenEdge, along with Garmin-Cannondale’s Ryder Hesjedal who had a strong showing at this year’s Giro finishing 5th at the grand tour he won back in 2012.

Ryder Hesjedal  ©  Cor Vos


Tour de France 2015 Stage Highlights

– 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

Tour de France 2015 Stages

Stage 1 – July 4 – Utrecht (ITT) – 14km
Stage 2 – July 5 – Utrecht to Zelande – 166km
Stage 3 – July 6 – Anvers to Huy – 154km
Stage 4 – July 7 – Seraing to Cambrai – 221km
Stage 5 – July 8 – Arras to Amiens Metropole – 189km
Stage 6 – July 9 – Abbeville to Le Harve – 191km
Stage 7 – July 10 – Livarot to Fougeres – 190km
Stage 8 – July 11 – Rennes to Mur de Bretagne – 179km
Stage 9 – July 12 – Vannes to Plumelec – 28km

Rest Day 1 – July 13

Stage 10 – July 14 – Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin – 167km
Stage 11 – July 15 – Pau to Cauterets Vallee de Saint-Savin – 188km
Stage 12 – July 16 – Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille – 195km
Stage 13 – July 17 – Murut to Rodez – 200km
Stage 14 – July 18 – Rodez to Mende – 178km
Stage 15 – July 19 – Mende to Valence – 182km
Stage 16 – July 20 – Bourg-de-Peage to Gap – 201km

Rest Day 2 – July 21

Stage 17 – July 22 – Digne-les-Bains to Pra-Loup – 161km
Stage 18 – July 23 – Gap to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne – 185km
Stage 19 – July 24 – Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles – 138km
Stage 20 – July 25 – Modane Valfrejus to Alpe d’Huez – 110km
Stage 21 – July 26 – Sevres-Grand Paris Seine Ouest to Paris Champs-Elysees – 107km

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