Good morning and welcome along to the big reveal. Paris' Palais des Congrès is filling up and we're about to be presented with the route for the 2020 Tour de France. We'll be taking you through it right here.
The lights will go down in the Palais in just five minutes' time. There will be speeches from ASO officials before Christian Prudhomme begins to unveil the 21 stages that will make up next year's Tour.
If you haven't read this yet, now's your last chance.
As ever, despite ASO's efforts to keep a lid on things, a reliable picture of the route usually emerges from local newspaper reports and people looking at which towns' hotels are all full on the different days in July. Here's what's on the cards.
As well as these live updates, you can also watch the real thing for yourself. We have a live stream of the presentation from Paris, and it has literally just started.
Here we go then! The lights go down, and ASO's speaker - you know the one (ponytail) - walks out onto the stage to tell everyone to turn off their mobile phones.
First up, riders are being called onto the stage. We have Sam Dumoulin, Alexis Vuillermoz, Anthony Delaplace, Maxime Bouet, Cyril Gautier, Pierre Rolland, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Jade Wiel, Jasper Philipsen, Yoann Offredo, Anthony Turgis, Stephane Rossetto, Christophe Laporte, Rudy Molard, Tony Gallopin....
Pierre Latour is next, followed by Warren Barguil, and now Chris Froome, the four-time champion. The calibre is going up now and we have three-time stage winner Caleb Ewan, followed by a polo-necked Romain Bardet. Next up is Steven Kruijswijk, third this year.
Big cheers now as Thibaut Pinot and Julian Alaphilippe, the two Frenchmen who lit up this year's race, walk onto the stage. They're followed by the champion, Egan Bernal, and that's it for the riders.
Now it's time for Jean-Etienne Amaury, president of the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which runs the race. He never usually says anything too interesting, but we'll let you know if he does.
He talks about the environment and women's cycling, but it's wishy-washy on both counts, vaguely highlighting things ASO have done on two issues they arguably haven't done anywhere near enough on.
Amaury is off. Now for the video retrospective of the 2019 edition. Much better.
This year's Tour was a belter, wasn't it? The memories are coming flooding back...
And now Pinot has to watch himself climbing off his bike in tears, Alaphilippe has to watch himself fall away on the Iseran. Bernal watches himself pull on the yellow jersey and break down in tears himself. What a crazy day that was.
And that's it, up the Champs, three for Ewan, Colombian national anthem on the podium, and that's a wrap for the 2019 Tour.
Now for 2020!
Christian Prudhomme, the race director, comes onto the stage. He'll also say a few words before unveiling the route and he usually has something of substance to say. In the past he has used this stage to call for bans on power metres and tramadol.
Reminder that you can follow this presentation with your own eyes, with our live streaming. Here's the link to the video.
Romain Bardet rocking the turtleneck, looks like the only one not dressed by his mum at today's #TDF presentationOctober 15, 2019
Prudhomme begins with an ode to Nice, the city on the Côte d'Azur that will host the Grand Départ of the 2020 Tour. And we now have a video about Nice.
We've got our hands on the route map. Here it is, ladies and gentlemen.
This map confirms that once again the rumours were largely accurate. The race will start in Nice before heading into the mountains to the north, on the southern edge of the Alps. From there, it's across to the Pyrenees, then up the east coast for the first rest day, the back across the Massif Central en route to the Alps, where the headline act is the summit finish on the all-new Col de la Loze. Finally, penultimate-day the time trial up La Planche des Belles Filles is happening. That's going to be one of the most hotly-anticipated Tour time trials in recent history.
That Planche stage is the only time trial on the 2020 Tour route. No team time trial, no prologue, and not even a short ITT for the rouleurs. It's perhaps the furthest ASO have gone in their war on the rouleurs. It's a climber's edition, but it's not all set-piece high-mountain stages in the Alps and Pyrenees. There's plenty of time in the Massif Central and an even spread of hills, with very few purely flat days, where the race could feasibly open up at any moment. In other words, they saw what Julian Alaphilippe and Thibaut Pinot did this year and thought 'we want more of that'.
Here it is. Stephen Farrand's full story on the route
The Mayor of Nice has just been on, talking about... Nice? Not sure, was writing about the route. Anyway, Prudhomme is back and he's about to show us the route. We already have it, but he's about to go through it stage by stage.
We already know what the first two stages look like - these were confirmed some time ago.
Stage 1: Nice-Nice (156km) - This is a largely flat opener finishing on the famous Promenade des Anglais.
Stage 2: Nice-Nice (187km) - This one heads for the hills to the north, including the Col d'Eze, which you'll know from Paris-Nice, before finishing back on the Prom
Stage 3: Nice-Sisteron (198km)
The race heads north of Nice into the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence - not the high Alps but still a significantly hilly foray this early in the race. It's a largely downhill run into Sisteron, leaving some sort of bunch finish.
Stage 4: Sisteron-Orcières-Merlette (157km)
The first summit finish of the race. Again, an early one. Orcières-Merlette last featured on the Tour in 1989, when Steven Rooks won an individual time trial and Greg LeMond moved into the yellow jersey. The 1840m-high ascent is not the most daunting – 11km at an average of 5.9 per cent – but a summit finish so early in the race will give an indication of everyone's overall ambitions.
Stage 5: Gap-Privas (183km)
The race heads away from the Alps and across to the Drome and Ardeche for a short uphill finish in Privas.
Stage 6: Le Teil-Mont-Aigoual (191km)
Another key early test. This is a largely flat stage with a major summit finish, at the Mont Aigoual observatory in the southern part of the Massif Central.
Stage 7: Millai-Lavaur (168km)
More hills here but net downhill and a flat run-in, so probably a sprint.
Stage 8: Cazeres-sur-Garonne-Loudenvielle (140km)
The race reaches the Pyrenees at the weekend. Just two stages in the Pyrenees this year, neither with a summit finish. This one still looks brutal, taking in the the Col de Menté, Port de Balès and Col de Peyresourde - all in just 140km.
Stage 9: Pau-Laruns (154km)
The second in the Pyrenean double-header takes in the Col de la Hourcère and Col de Marie Blanque ahead of the run down to Laruns.
Rest day - July 6
The race transfers north up the east coast for the first rest day in La Charente-Maritime.
Stage 10: Ile d’Oléron-Ile de Ré (170km)
A pan-flat stage but the wind will be blowing in from the Atlantic.
Stage 11: Chatelaillon-Plage-Poitiers (167km)
Another possible sprint opportunity as the race heads inland.
Stage 12: Chauvigny-Sarran (218km)
The race heads south east towards the Massif Central. No major climbs here but it's net uphill and the longest day of the race - the only stage above 200km. With a late short climb, it looks like one for a reduced group sprint. Breakaway hopefuls will be bookmarking this as we speak.
Stage 13: Châtel-Guyon-Puy Mary (191km)
Back into the Massif Central we go, and this is a hearty stage typical of the medium-mountain range. It's up and down all day, with three categorised climbs preceding the summit finish on the 1,589-metre high Pas de Peyrol (Puy Mary) in the heart of the extinct volcanoes of the Auvergne.
Stage 14: Clermont Ferrand-Lyon (197km)
The race leaves the Massif Central, via a couple of testing climbs, before a long run down to the major city of Lyon.
Stage 15: Lyon-Grand Colombier (175km)
The final act of the second week sees a marquee summit finish on the Grand Colombier in the Jura mountains. We've seen it a few times in recent years but never as a summit finish. The riders will take in the Col de la Biche ahead of tackling the hardest side of the Grand Colombier. It's only 1500m in altitude but it's a big showdown.
Rest day 2 - July 13
The race pauses in Isère for the second and final rest day.
Stage 16: La Tour-du-Pin – Villard-de-Lans (164km)
The third and final week takes us into the Alps. The Col de Porte and Côte de Revel precede the Montée de Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte, from which there's a short run to the finish in Villard-de-Lans.
Stage 17: Grenoble – Méribel, Col de la Loze (168km)
This is big. It will surely be the most anticipated mountain-top finish of the 2020 Tour. The Col de la Loze is an all-new traffic free mountain pass linking Méribel and Courchevel. The Tour has finished at Méribel's altiport before (in 1973) but this new cycle track will take the race 6km further, all the way up to the summit at 2304m. The famous Col de la Madeleine is the starter and the only other climb on the menu.
Stage 18: Méribel – La Roche-sur-Foron (168km)
A savage day, where the roads are only going up steep mountains or down them. The riders are immediately hit with the Cormet de Roselend, then the Col des Saisies, then the Aravis, then the climb to the Plateau des Glières - whose dirt tracks were used a couple of years ago. It's down, then up a short uncategorised climb, then down again to the finish. It's a different test to the previous day, but just as important.
Stage 19: Bourg-en-Bresse – Champagnole (160km)
We leave the Alps behind and head towards the Vosges for that Planche time trial. In order to get there, we have this transition stage, which is, in itself, still lightly hilly and far from nailed-on for the sprinters.
Stage 20: Lure – La Planche des Belles Filles (ITT, 36km)
It's actually happening. When the rumours started surfacing, this was the one on everyone's lips. ASO's recent infatuation with La Planche des Belles Filles deepens, as we have it in the form of a time trial as the final act in the battle for the yellow jersey. It's a 36km TT that starts out flat, becomes false flat, and then hits La Planche - 6km at 8.5%. The gravel section at the top that was used this year is not part of the course here, but still... for a final-day time trial, this is pretty exciting.
Stage 21: Mantes-la-Jolie – Paris (122km)
The final stage. You know the drill - champagne, photos, Paris, Champs-Elysées, sprint, podium ceremony, bonne nuit.
That's it then, that's your route. For the full details, here's our story.
We also have the reveal of the route for La Course, and this year it's heading back to Paris and the Champs Elysées.
As for the 2020 route there is a kind of identikit Grand Tour emerging across Giro Tour & Vuelta which is basically how many climbs can we cram in & how wacky can they be. It has its strengths and its weaknesses but it's very much for one kind of riderOctober 15, 2019
.@chrisfroome 🎙 "It's the hardest route I've seen in the last few years"« C’est le parcours le plus dur que j’ai vu ces dernières années. »#TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/VLQXyKTBxGOctober 15, 2019
My colleague Stephen Farrand has grabbed a word with Team Ineos boss Dave Braislford behind the scenes at the Palais.
"I think there’s a reduction in time trials and flats, then the last time trial is interesting, but they’ve taken the climbing kilometres and spread them throughout the race rather than have them focused on your Alpine and Pyreenean stages, which is interesting. It’s more a mid-moutain all-rounder route. I don’t think that makes it more difficult to control," Brailsford says.
"Every year it’s a different puzzle to solve. We’ll take it away, pick it apart and figure it out. In the team we’ve got riders who can really climb, who can time trial well and whichever way a Grand Tour goes we’ve got guys who can cover all the bases. It’s now a question of sitting down, looking at the Giro, this, then looking at the Vuelta and then deciding how we’re going to tackle the season."
And here's what Julian Alaphilippe has to say...
“There are really a lot of difficult stages in this Tour. It’s starts out very hard and stays hard all the way to the final time trial. It really is an unprecedented route, which has surprises in store, with a scenario that’s impossible to predict. It’s very good."
After this year's exploits, will Alaphilippe be making a target of the general classification?
“On paper, yes, there are plenty of stages that suit me – that suit me very well, even. But it’s still far away," he says. "I have to study the parcours in more detail, and go out and recon the stages, in order to get a clearer idea. For the moment, I can’t say."
Let's hear from the 2019 champion, Egan Bernal
"It will be a good parcours for a good climber because there’s one time trial and the final part of the race will be really hard. There are really steep climbs, really hard climbs and I think that people will try and attack. That will be good and it will mean a good Tour to watch on TV."
As for his plans...
"I don’t know. First we need to take the decision over whether I go to the Tour or not. We have really good riders who can win the Tour. We need to be calm, talk to the team and to Dave and then analyse the parcours. I would like to come back to the Tour next year but I also have a lot of respect for the Giro and the Vuelta. We’ll see what the decision of the team is. For sure I want to come back as I’m the last winner. It would be nice to come back with number one on my back. It’s not just me in this team though; there are other riders."
Here's our story with Brailsford's reaction
ASO always insist they don't have a particular rider in mind when they create their Tour de France routes... Hard to believe that with this latest edition.😉Looks really exciting though, lots to chew on.October 15, 2019
Here are some of the riders on stage a little earlier
The TDF route presentation is an annual showcase of the general inability of professional cyclists to dress up- you have to remember that these guys spend most days of the year either wearing lycra or a tracksuit. This year's crop isn't actually that bad, compared to what we've seen in the last few years, but it's still bad, obviously. Ewan, tie askew, looks like a mischievous sixth-former... Similarly, Bernal's popped his dad's suit on for the prom. Kruijswijk has fallen into the trap of wearing a smart jacket with blue denim. Froome... is just Froome - we see this look every year. Pinot, Alaphilippe, Barguil are on work experience at the local accountants, it seems. And that leaves Bardet - what to make of that? He's the only one who has put in any real amount of thought or effort, but you can see on his face he knows it hasn't worked.
We've got some reaction from Pinot now. The Frenchman was in such a good position this year - he thought he was going to win it - but left the race in tears with a muscle tear on stage 19.
"It’s a course for me, but not only me," Pinot says of the 2020 route. "It’s for all the climbers, and I think it suits Bernal completely. But it’s a course that I like."
We've got reaction from four-time champion Chris Froome.
"I haven't seen a parcours that hard in the last five or six years. It's brutal.
"Even though there's a lack of time kilometres, there are a lot of opportunities in the mountains. It's definitely going to be a race that is won or lost in the mountains, especially with the last TT going up La Planche des Belles Filles. It’s a brutal sting in the tail.
"It doesn’t suit one particular rider; it suits anyone who can climb… It suits Egan pretty well… If I can get back to where I left off, then I'd be confident on the start line."
Here's the full story on Froome, who said that just to make it to the start line in Nice next July would represent an "incredible" achievement, given the injuries he sustained in June. Here's the link.
Not a tour for sprinters!!! Tour de France 2020 green Jersey for a Climber 🥵🥵October 15, 2019
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