Five key stages of the 2019 Tour de France

The 2019 edition of the Tour de France is just around the corner so it’s about time we took a deep dive into the five key stages that are set to define this year’s race. From short and snappy team time trials to lung-busting mountaintop finishes, this year’s route has it all – many touting it as the toughest of the 21st century.

We’ve included all the info you’ll need to catch every second of racing live on TV, whether that be from the comfort of your couch at home or on a sneakily hidden tab on your work PC. Here are the five stages that we think could see some real fireworks…

Stage 2 – July 7 – Brussels Palais Royal à Brussels Atomium (27km, TTT)

Time trials aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s definitely something different about a team time trial – all eight riders churning the gear in one fluid and perfectly synchronised paceline. This 27km TTT comes very early in the race and could see some big gaps created between the main favourites, potentially putting some riders with weaker teams on the back foot before the real mountains have even begun.

 

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⏱👈🏻Fighting against the time. / La moindre seconde compte. #TDF2018 – 📸À.S.O. @paulineballet

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The route around the centre of Brussels isn’t hilly by any means, but there are some long false flats that will really sap the strength of some riders. There are also quite a few technical corners to negotiate which, on a time trial bike, will be difficult to fly through at speed. In all, this isn’t your average, flat and fast TTT. This is a stage for the well-disciplined teams with a lot of time trial experience – think Team INEOS, Deceuninck-Quickstep and Mitchelton-Scott.

Stage 6 – July 11 – Mulhouse à La Planche des Belles Filles (157km)

The first crucial mountain stage of this year’s race comes as early as stage 6. Having such a tough stage so early on in the race is really going to throw the proverbial cat among the pigeons. Those riders wanting to slowly build up their form and wait for week three are going to get a rude awakening on this stage – there are four category 1 climbs to negotiate, one of them being the infamous summit finish of La Planche des Belles Filles.

 

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This climb has become a regular Tour stage finish in recent years, but this year’s edition will see a slightly different approach to the finish line. Instead of summitting on the regular tarmac road, the riders will be sent further up the mountain on an extended dirt track to a lesser known, but more punishing summit. This could be a great opportunity for a breakaway, but also expect the GC riders to stretch their legs and test their rivals on this final climb. Riders like Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot and Nairo Quintana will be in their element on the leg-breaking, double-digit gradients.

Stage 14 – July 20 – Tarbes à Tourmalet (117km)

This short and snappy mountain stage comes just a day after the crucial 27km individual time trial around Pau. Some of the climbing specialists may lose a lot of time on that stage, so expect them to be out in full force on stage 14, attacking each and every time the road pitches upwards.

There is a category 1 climb to negotiate midway through the stage, but this will be nothing more than a taster for what’s to come – the Col du Tourmalet. This is a mythical climb and one that’ll scare a lot of riders. Whoever is in yellow after the previous day’s TT may have one tough fight on their hands, and if they don’t have a strong team to rally around them, their grip on the race could be in danger.

This is the second summit finish of the race so expect those riders that excelled on La Planche des Belles Filles to do well here with similarly hellish gradients near the summit. ASO have been incredibly kind to us and placed this stage on a Sunday, so grab the sofa snacks and prepare for a whole day of explosive Tour de France action.

Stage 18 – July 25 – Embrun à Valloire (208km)

This long Alpine stage marks the start of the business end of this year’s race. With notable climbs likes the Col de Vars, Col d’Izoard and Col du Galibier rearing their ugly heads on this stage, we’re in for one hell of a GC battle – probably the biggest of the race so far.

 

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Unlike the previous mountain stages, this one is just as much about the descents as the ascents, so expect riders like Vincenzo Nibali and Julian Alaphilippe to be pushing the boundaries of physics on these rip-roaring downhills. Whoever finishes this stage in the yellow jersey can’t rest up just yet; there are still two beastly looking stages before the peloton arrives in Paris.

Stage 20 – July 27 – Albertville à Val Thorens (131km)

This is it, the grand finale of the 2019 Tour de France. It’s another short Alpine stage at 131km, but with almost all of those either climbing uphill or hurtling down technical descents, there’s going to be one massive and inevitable GC battle – the last of this year’s race.

The final climb to Val Thorens is a rarely used climb at the Tour and for good reason, it climbs at an average gradient of 5.5% for 33km – yes, you read that right, 33km. After three weeks of non-stop racing, this climb is going to sting. Only those riders who’ve managed to save enough energy are going to survive.

 

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Expect the big GC favourites of Geraint Thomas, Jakob Fuglsang and Tom Dumoulin to be going toe to toe here, knocking seven bells out of one another as they decide who’s going to ride into Paris wearing the coveted yellow jersey the following day.

 

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Tune in to Eurosport or ITV4 for live coverage, or catch the evening highlights for the day’s most important moments.

If you’ve enjoyed this brief preview of the 2019 Tour de France, then be sure to keep checking on the site over the coming weeks for more Tour-related content. All this racing talk has no doubt got you pumped to do your own makeshift tour so why not go and check out our cycling travel insurance policies to grab the best deal for you and your bike before you head off.