Tour de France 2018: Stage 20 preview

There's only one individual time trial in this 105th Tour de France, but its characteristics make it unique in the history of the race. The distance isn't huge (31km), but it's up and down all the way, and comes on the penultimate day of racing.

It's a much harder race against the clock than the final one in Marseille last year, which means that the difference between two GC contenders could be up to one minute. The climbs on the route are steep and the descents are very technical. It's definitely not for a pure time triallist, and is more a stage for an all-rounder.

Only the first part until Souraïde-Xurxurieta is rolling. With 3km left to go comes a climb called the Col de Pinodieta, which, although only 1km long, features gradients up to 22 per cent.

The stage finish in Espelette, meanwhile, is the French capital of the chilli pepper. It's the perfect place to spice up the finale of the Tour.

The stage takes place right in the heart of the Basque Country, where no stage has been held since the 2006 Tour's stage 10 from Cambo-les-Bains to Pau. This time around, the whole stage is in Basque territory, and signage and commentary will be in both French and Basque.

There may not be a top-tier Euskaltel team anymore, but the passion for cycling on the Spanish side of the Basque Country remain such that it'll be a very popular stage on the roadside.

 

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