Chris Froome says that the high altitude of many of the climbs in the 2019 Tour de France could play a defining role in deciding the overall winner. Froome singled out Nairo Quintana, who was born at well over 2,000 metres and won the only summit finish above that marker at this year's race, as one who the course would suit.
Three of the five summit finishes at the 2019 Tour de France will go above 2,000 metres while several more will be crossed along the way, including the Col d'Izoard, the Col du Galibier, and the Col d'Iseran, which is the highest paved pass in the Alps at 2,770 metres. The thin air could have a huge impact on the race and Froome says that altitude training will be as important as ever for next year's race.
"The high-altitude aspect of the race is going to be a significant factor," Froome told the press at the route presentation in Paris. "Some riders deal with altitude better than others, especially those who were born and live at altitude like Nairo Quintana. Those climbs should really suit him. I think that spending a lot of time at altitude will be one of the main parts of preparing for this Tour.
"Every year I've had to adapt and this year is no different. I'll do all I can to adapt to it and make sure I'm at my best in the mountains."
Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the iconic yellow jersey and several former champions were invited to the event. Among them were the three living five-time Tour de France champions, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain. Froome is just one win away from joining the elite group, which also includes Jacques Anquetil. Though he missed out on making that step in this year's race, he will be one of the favourites heading into the 2019 event.
"It's a race I'm really looking forward to preparing for now. It would be the dream for me to go for the fifth Tour de France win," he said. "It’s a very different parcours. There are comparatively fewer time trial kilometres compared to recent editions, so that's quite different too."
Froome added that he is looking forward to returning to La Planche des Belles Filles, on stage 6, where he won his first Tour de France stage in 2012. The steep climb will have a little added extra for the riders next year with the route set to go up a hiking trail after the finish line that has previously been used at the Tour. The add-on is just one kilometre but it has a sting in the tail with yet another 20 per cent ramp. It also comes after four other classified climbs.
"I’ve always enjoyed racing up La Planche des Belles Filles, the first summit finish, and with an added kick at the end of over 20 per cent it will certainly be interesting, and sort out the men from the boys."
The 2019 Tour de France will set off from Brussels on July 6 and concludes in Paris on July 28.
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