5th step: at the risk of cobblestones
The Tour takes the risk again on the cobblestones of northern France, for the first time since 2018. From the heart of Lille to Arenberg, at the entrance of the famous Trouée (which will not be used), the route passes eleven sectors with a total length of 19.4 kilometers. Barely less than in 2018 (21.7 km), which was the contemporary ceiling in this area since the Tour got used to including this highly spectacular exercise in its program: it will be the 5th time in 13 editions. .
Race director Thierry Gouvenou unearthed new sections north of Cambrai before joining cobblestones which are part of the tradition of Paris-Roubaix (Wandignies-Hamage and especially Sars-et-Rosières). At the end of the last sector known as Pont Gibus, in homage to Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle, double winner of “l’Enfer du Nord” in 1992 and 1993, the finish line is barely 7 kilometers away.
11th stage: an almost unprecedented giant
The Col du Granon, where the stage starting from Albertville ends, has only been climbed once in the history of the Tour, in 1986. At the time, “it was the highest finish in the Tour (2,413 m above sea level) ”, remembers Bernard Hinault, who lost his yellow jersey that day to his teammate Greg LeMond.
If the Tour reached higher afterwards (2,645 m from Galibier in 2011), the rise of Granon deserves its non-category label by its difficulty: 11.3 kilometers at 9.2% average slope on a cul-de-sac road. de-sac from Chantemerle, near Briançon. Especially since the stage will have previously crossed one of the most monumental alpine passes, the Galibier by its north face (Valloire).
12th stage: a facsimile from 1986
A nod to history! Thirty-six years after a memorable day, the Tour resumes the route of the stage leading from Briançon to Alpe d’Huez, via the Galibier, climbed by its Lautaret step, and the Croix-de-Fer, two alpine giants. In 1986, Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond arrived arm in arm following a scenario orchestrated by Bernard Tapie who was the boss of their team La Vie Claire. The third (Urs Zimmermann) was more than five minutes away.
Indigestion threatens non-climbers in the two alpine days: 65.8 kilometers of climb are added to the 44.3 kilometers the day before. With five climbs classified out of category in less than 48 hours.
18th stage: the verdict of Hautacam
The last day in the mountains alternates classicism and novelty. The Aubisque, by the side of Gourette, is one of the four great traditional passes of the Pyrenees, discovered in 1910. On the other hand, Spandelles, whose ascent (10.3 km at 8.3%) begins in Ferrières below du Soulor, has never been used by the Tour.
Its interest is to follow very quickly, at the bottom of the descent described as “technical”, with the rise of Hautacam, the last ascent of this edition to deliver the verdict of the mountain. In the history of the Tour, the 13.6 kilometers (at 7.8%) have already given rise to five finishes since 1994. The last time in 2014, when the Italian Vincenzo Nibali had completed his victory in front of Thibaut Pinot.