The Tour de France is coming to Denmark before heading to Normandie. It will be the clockwise journey through France with the first test at the Super Planché des Belles Filles before heading to Switzerland. From there, it is down to the Alps for the first big mountain stages and all the way south to the Pyrenees. A long time trial to settle everything before Champs-Élyssés. In the mix, we have a cobbled stage too and a big bridge to cross in Denmark.
A time trial in Copenhagen. A mix of big roads with power before the section after the intermediate time check near the little mermaid and a few cobblestones at Amalienborg. The longest straight is 3 km, this is by no means TT for the powerhouses.
A fantastic stage. Now, we can’t produce a lot of climbs but the terrain gets a bit tough near Costa Kalundborg. The Great Belt Bridge is what everyone is talking about but you should not underestimate the ride from Kalundborg down south to the bridge. It is near the coast and the road is narrow and in open terrain. The bridge itself is almost 16 km long with a short middle section on Sprogø before the last part in Nyborg. Here, the last 2.8 km are on tiny roads too for a final. A little kick inside the last 800 meters before it will be a downhill sprint. A day with a chance of crosswinds.
A day in Jutland. The wind can do some damage here as well. This is a sprint stage, but it is not an easy finale. A turn with 750 meters left is a bit dangerous considering it is early days – it is a place Asgreen has said we could see crashes.
Down to France after a rest-day. It is up or down most of the day, but with just 2000 climbing meters this early, it should come down to a sprint. From my understanding, there is also a slight chance of hard winds in Normandie. We will have to see how the teams approach the day.
It is time for some cobblestones. I do enjoy seeing them in a Grand Tour. We will see time gaps in the GC after this day. I, unfortunately, expect GC dreams to be over due to mechanicals or crashes. The weather can have a big impact on a day like this. If it is raining, it will be a day in hell.
A lumpy day starting in Belgium. With 219 km it is a long day and we will see who will control it. The finish excites me with four climbs in the last 16.5 km and one of them is a wall. We should see the likes of MvdP, Pogacar and Alaphilippe starting as the favorites.
The first mountain. I think it will be the first day for the breakaway as well. Not a lot of teams will be interested in the jersey just yet and the first mountain top finish has ended with a win for the breakaway in the last 7/10 cases.
They are going to Switzerland for an uphill finish in Lausanne. Once again, do not expect the teams with a sprinter to control it. It is a similar finish to what we saw in the Giro d’Italia on stage 1. Expect a mix of GC riders, puncheurs and sprinters wanting to fight for the stage win. It could also be a day for the morning breakaway if it is strong enough.
The last day in Switzerland. They are going through my Montreux, a town I lived in for two months a few years ago near the Lac Leman. Fantastic scenery – I hope to see the school I had my internship at. With 3500 climbing meters and no really difficult climb near the end, it should come down to a strong breakaway.
I think it will be another break. It simply is not hard enough for any damage to be dealt amongst the favorites.
Now, this is the first test, if you take into account that Super Planché des Belles Filles is likely going to be a stalemate between the favorites. Col du Télégraphe, Col du Galibier and Col du Granon Serre Chevalier. This is the first real battle.
Almost a replica of the Criterium du Dauphine stage 7. Instead of the finish in Vujaney, it will be l’Alpe d’Huez. A climb many of us really enjoy seeing. This will be the second big battle of the weekend.
The sprinter that survived the two prior stages will look at this and hope they can control the morning moves as the breakaway will fancy their chances too. It is hard now to determine if it will be a sprint or a day for the breakaway.
The finish in Mende brings back fond memories from 2018 when Fraile attacked early and fooled the big favorite, Alaphilippe. It is a stay where you need to ride smart – last time on the Mende stage, we had 28 riders in the morning break and with the hilly start, I expect the same this year.
Once again, it could be a day for the breakawau and it could be a sprint. I think the start is very hard for a team with a sprinter to control. And controlling 200 km of hilly terrain is certainly not a walk in the park in the third week of a Grand Tour.
A day for the breakaway. The sprinters will not be interested and I think Mur de Péguère ends too far from the finish line to see any GC riders make a move.
It is time for the last big battles. This day has a very flat start meaning it will be difficult for the pure climbers to get in the morning break. I am also uncertain if Peyragudes is difficult enough to see big GC gaps. The finish is mighty steep at the airport with 400m at 14.4%.
It could not be a start in Denmark without including Hautacam, a day Bjarne Riis made history. Another very flat start will make it difficult for the morning breakaway to be strong enough to make it to the line. If you don’t fancy your chances in the TT on stage 20, you must attack on this stage with three very demanding climbs.
A flat day before the time trial. Well, we will have to see how many sprinters survived – otherwise a few strong classic guys will take the day.
The long time trial. I really do like a long time trial at the end of a GT. By the looks of it, there are a few bit of twists and turns and two climbs near the end – you do not want to blow up.
A sprint in Paris.
The first three days in Denmark will be determined by the wind and the weather. The summer in Denmark can be wet and windy but it can also be sunny.
I think the cobbled stage is something to take in mind. How hard are the sectors? From what I can find, it could be a day with little impact but it can also be a day with big impact. A lot of riders starting do not ride the spring classics, they will have a hard time and it will cause a lot of crashes.
Looking at the two big weekends, I think the organizers have made some great stages with stage 11 and stage 12 in the Alps. In the Pyrenees, stage 17 and stage 18 also look hard enough to get a prober GC battle. The main problem is, that we only have two stages with more than 4000 climbing meters – it is a concern for me. We had five above 4000 climbing meters in the Giro d’Italia and it took a long time to find the strongest rider.
That means a lot of it will come down to the final time trial. It is likely going to be the most important GC day. In the mix, I do hope we see hard days in between. The French countryside is known for hard winds, something that could mix up the GC.
A final note is the lack of mountains in the first half of the stages. Flat starts with climbs in the second half to make up for boring cycling. Some of the best races we have had this year begin with a tough climb. Surely, the organizers want the sprinters to survive as far as possible and that must be respected. I think the route is great and there are a lot of opportunities for the breakaway to take a long of stage wins this edition. In the last three editions, 66% of the last 11 stages end with a breakaway victory in Le Tour. I think we are likely to see the same this year.