2020 Tour de France stage 18 preview

Stage 18: Méribel - La Roche-sur-Foron

Date: September 17, 2020 

Distance: 175km 

Stage start: 12:05 p.m. CEST

Stage type: Mountain

The final Alpine stage of the 2020 Tour is another roller coaster with four big climbs, with barely any respite in the 4,000m of climbing.

They got it wrong last time the Tour came over the Plateau de Glières, in 2018. The climb came early in the stage, and the overall shape of the stage discouraged GC action, so the break was just left to get on with it. The first rider over the top in 2018 was Julian Alaphilippe, en route to the stage win, and the mountain points title. The Frenchman has a long history with the climb - in the 2013 Tour de l’Avenir, representing France at the age of 21, he was the solo winner of a stage that finished at the top.

On a racing level it’s perfect - a tough climb, followed by a rolling gravel section through the plateau. So for 2020, they’ve given it the headline slot on the final Alpine stage of the race. (Technically, there have been eight Alpine stages in total this year, so it’s a prestigious slot.)

Stage 18 climbs the beautiful Cormet de Roselend, the Saises and Aravis before the Plateau de Glières. The Cormet de Roselend and Saisies made their Tour debuts in 1979, while the Aravis appeared on the route the first time the Tour went into the high Alps, during the 1911 race.

It’s another stern test of climbing aptitude and endurance. From the top of the last climb, it’s another 30km to the finish, and not all of that is downhill. If you include the climb, that’s well over an hour of racing. This is not the time for solo heroics, but even less so is it the time for a bad day.

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