Tour de France 2020: Reaction from riders and sports directors

The route for the 2020 Tour de France was revealed yesterday and it is certainly an interesting one.

Starting in Nice on June 27 – a week earlier than usual because of the Olympics in Tokyo – the route is, shall we say, unconventional.

The riders will visit three mountain ranges – the Alps, the Massif Central and the Pyrenees – inside the opening eight days and the first uphill stage comes on day two.

With 29 categorised climbs – and six summit finishes – there doesn’t appear to be much for the sprinters.

Some of the more iconic climbs, such as the Ventoux and L’Alpe d’Huez, have been overlooked in favour of less well-known ascents but that will only add to the mystique of next year’s Tour.

There’s also not much on offer for the time trial specialists – the only race against the clock is a 36km ITT up La Planche des Belle Filles on the final Saturday.

On the surface, the 107th edition of the Tour appears to suit home favourites Julian Alaphilippe and Thibaut Pinot although the case could be also argued for the likes of Egan Bernal, Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin.

But what do the riders and sports directors think? Here’s a selection…

Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) – Tour winner 2019

“It will be a really hard Tour de France. It will be different without a team time trial and just one time trial, with an uphill finish. I think it will be a different Tour, one that people will really like, as I think there will be a lot of attacks in the final climbs.

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“For me it’s a little bit better this time trial than if it was a flat one. I think specialists will also be good in this time trail – they know how to do a good time trial even if it is uphill. It’s still a time trial, but for me it’s better like this.”

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck Quick-Step) – Yellow jersey holder for 14 days in 2019

“I will study the parcours in detail together with the team, but what I can already say is that it’s one of the toughest editions in recent years, with a demanding opening weekend in the south that will create some gaps and several gruelling climbs.

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“On paper, there are a couple of stages that suit me, but I will know more once I do the recon. What I can tell you for now is that I won’t go for the general classification, as next season I will have other goals.

“Overall, it is a parcours that I like, with many new climbs, which will make the race more interesting and spectacular, but at the same time, harder, and I can’t wait to be at the start in Nice.”

Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) – Winner of four stages at the Tour in 2019

“It was my first Tour de France presentation as a pro rider and I was happy to attend the reveal of the 2020 edition. In my opinion it’s a hard Tour with not so many real flat sprint stages.

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“Looks like it’s going to be a very hard tour. Looking forward to starting in Nice and racing on my training roads.

“Stage 1, for example, is a demanding course for the fast legs, but maybe we can survive the hills to sprint for the yellow jersey in Nice.”

Matt White (DS at Mitchelton-Scott)

“I like the course. I would have expected a little bit more time trialling kilometres and a little bit more high altitude. But in general, the route is a good one.

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“I think the thing that stands out for me is that the difficulties in the race are very sporadic and are scattered right throughout the route. When you look at stage two with 4000 metres of climbing and then on stage four there’s the first hilltop finish.

“The back end of the Tour is very hard, but the difficulties start straight away. So, it’s a tough one.”

Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) – Third at the Tour in 2019

“In recent years, the Tour organisation has provided a tough and challenging course. The upcoming Tour contains surprising elements with a climb time trial on the penultimate day and mountain stages in the first week.

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“I am happy with this course. It’s going to be a Tour in which you have to be good from start to finish.

“You’ll have to be eager to race, because it is a tough race from the beginning. The attackers will have enough opportunities on the many challenging climbs.”

Eusebio Unzue (DS at Movistar)

“It looks like, with those tough opening nine stages, we could well reach the first rest day with a clear picture of the final result. Obviously, it’s a route which will be applauded by the climbers, especially those able to do well on time trials, such as Thomas, Froome, Bernal, Dumoulin or Roglic amongst many others.

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“It’s a really difficult Tour, at all levels. It’s a huge gamble on routes that really make the riders suffer, a mixture of mid-mountain stages and those with really long climbs, and it also features many climbs never used in the Tour or any other big race.

It really shows that the organisers have made a big effort to leave their classic ingredients behind, staying away from that they’ve used for previous routes. Personally, we can’t feel sad about what we’ve seen here in Paris, and of course, it seems really difficult for anyone who’s not an excellent climber to get onto the podium in Paris.”

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) – Abandoned the Tour in 2019 on stage 19

“The icing on the cake is the last stage at the Planche des Belles Filles. These are roads that I know absolutely by heart, where I spend every day since my childhood. We even cross my village halfway, it will be very special for me.

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“It’ll make me do something about it on the Tour. I hope that I will have an important role to play at that time, that I will have a good place to defend and that it will remain a great memory for me. There will be suspense until the end and, unless a guy has three minutes in advance, it will be impossible to say Friday night who will win. “

Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) – King of the Mountains at the Tour in 2019

“This is a course that is quite new, with many new features, with the desire to think outside the box. 2019, it was the Tour of audacity, with an unbridled course.

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2020 is part of this idea, with many new climbs, which may make the race uncertain.

“It makes me want to return to the Tour of course, but it will also be a big year where I will play a lot and that motivates me already a lot.”

Chris Froome (Team Ineos) – Aiming for a record-equalling fifth Tour win in 2020

“I think it’s a brutal Tour – probably the hardest I’ve seen in the last five or six years at least.

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“It’s great – there’s loads of opportunities for the general classification to play out and the main rivals to go head to head. That’s what everyone wants to see. It should be an exciting race, hopefully it will live up the same standards as this year.

“There are no guarantees in sport but I’m going to give it everything I have.”

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