The Tour de France will start in Italy for the first time with a stage that includes more than 3,600 metres of climbing.
High mountains will be on the 2024 schedule as soon as the fourth day in a race that features two individual time trials and four summit finishes.
The finale of cycling’s marquee race will leave Paris for the first time since 1905, with the last stage taking place on the French Riviera because of a clash with next year’s Olympics.
There are a total of seven mountain stages on the program, across four mountain ranges, according to the route released on Wednesday.
The race will kick off in the Italian city of Florence on June 29 and will take riders to Rimini through a series of hills and climbs in the regions of Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. That tricky start could set the scene for the first skirmishes between the leading contenders.
Riders will first cross the Alps during Stage 4 when they will tackle the 2,642-meter Col du Galibier.
“The Tour peloton has never climbed so high, so early,” Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said.
And it will just be a taste of what’s to come since the total vertical gain of the 111th edition of the Tour reaches 52,230 metres.
The next big moment for two-time defending champion Jonas Vingegaard and his rivals will be Stage 7 for the first time trial in the Bourgogne vineyards. The first rest day will then come after a stage in Champagne presenting several sectors on white gravel roads for a total of 32 kilometres that usually provide for spectacular racing in the dust.
Tour riders will then head south to the Massif Central and the Pyrenees, then return to the Alps for a pair of massive stages with hilltop finishes, at the Isola 2000 ski resort then the Col de la Couillole, a 15.7-kilometer (9.7-mile) ascent at an average gradient of 7.1 per cent.
Because of security and logistical reasons, the French capital won’t have its traditional Tour finish on the Champs-Elysees and the race instead will conclude in Nice on July 21. Just five days later, Paris opens the Olympics.
And for once there should be suspense right until the very end because the last stage, traditionally a victory parade for the race leader until the final sprint takes shape, will be a 34-kilometer (21.1-mile) time trial between Monaco and Nice.
“Everyone remembers the last occasion the Tour finished with a time trial, when Greg LeMond stripped the yellow jersey from the shoulders of Laurent Fignon on the Champs-Elysees in 1989, by just eight seconds,” Prudhomme said. “Thirty-five years later, we can but dream of a similar duel.”
There are eight flat stages for the sprinters, leaving plenty of opportunities for Mark Cavendish to try to become the outright record-holder for most career stage wins at the sport’s biggest race.
The route for the third edition of the women’s Tour will take the peloton from the Dutch city of Rotterdam, starting August 12, to the Alpe d’Huez resort. The race will feature eight stages and a total of 946 kilometres.
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