A week from today (on October 25), road racing has arguably its biggest offseason event, the annual reveal of next year’s routes for the Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes.
Of course, we’ll have all the details when things are officially announced. But as is always the case, news and rumors are widespread about what we’ll see when Christian Prudhomme and Marion Rousse emcee the big gala.
Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift
The big news is from the Dauphiné Libéré (yes, the paper that used to sponsor the June stage race): the women will go into the Alps a year after this season’s fantastic Tourmalet finish in the Pyrenees.
On tap, says DL, is a weekend brace of stages on le Grand-Bornand and Alpe d’Huez to wrap up the eight-stage race. We already know that, due to the Paris Olympics, the TdFF takes place two weeks later, from August 12-18 (yes, that’s a Monday to Sunday). That means Saturday the 17th should see a stage to Grand-Bornand (Dauphiné Libéré suggests a start in Champagnole), followed by a race-ending summit finish on the 21 switchbacks of Alpe d’Huez.
That would be the bookend to the three-day Grand Depart, which we already know will take place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, including a time trial and, unusually, a double-stage day on Tuesday the 13th. With three stages up north and two in the high Alps, that leaves just three stages in the middle to traverse the 500-odd kilometers from the low countries to the Jura, if the reported Champagnole start for stage 7 is accurate.
Newspapers Vosges Matin and L’Est Republicain are tabbing a couple of stages in the Doubs and Vosges regions, which suggests the TdFF route overall will be more a north-south transect than a big loop. What we don’t know is the makeup of those stages, but both have the potential at least to be quite hilly if coursemakers desire. If those basic details are correct, the race will likely also have one big transfer after the Grand Depart, which will be tricky to manage with a double-stage day.
Tour de France Hommes
First, let’s start with what we know: due to the Olympics, the Tour will start a week earlier than normal (June 29), and finish outside Paris for the first time in its history. The final two stages will instead take place in and around Nice on the Cote d’Azur, which will be both extremely strange and kinda cool – if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind Tour vacation experience, this one may never be an option again. The Tour is tempting fate with a final-stage time trial, not attempted since Laurent Fignon lost to Greg LeMond on the final day in 1989, an upset which started an as-yet-unbroken drought for the French in their home Tour.
We also know the Tour’s Grand Depart will be in Italy, amazingly for the first time ever. This is no quick jaunt over the border; the race starts in Florence, but we won’t see much Strade Bianche-style terrain as the race beelines for Rimini on the Adriatic coast, and then hightails it back in the direction of Turin (lucky ducks, the Turinese get to host Tour and Giro stages in the same year).
That’s the limit of the hard info, but at least the broad outline of the stages is likely confirmed by Thomas Vergouwen at Velowire, via original reporting and aggregation of other media outlets’ stories. The shape of the route looks to be an odd one, with a decided focus on the Alps, Pyrenees, and center of France (which is only fair as much of this part of the country gets passed over most other years).
Vergouwen’s and other outlets’ reporting takes the race into the Alps as early as stage 4, with a possible stage from Pinerolo to Valloire. Valloire holds the potential for a summit finish, but other options are available. Dauphiné Libéré also reports that the Tour will make not one, but two trips through the Alps. Word is that after the first time through, the race will head north of Lyon and into the center of the country, to Orleans, before heading south across the Massif Central in the direction of Pau.
The final portion of the second week, in the Pyrenees, will reportedly host summit finishes at Plateau de Beille and Pla d’Adet before a rest day on the Mediterranean and a transitional stage across Provence before that repeat trip into the Alps. The final set of stages looks … rough, with supposed summit finishes at Super Devoluy and Isola 2000 before the confirmed final weekend with a finish on the Col de la Couillole and a hilly time trial around Nice that takes in both the La Turbie and Col d’Eze climbs.
That’s at least five summit finishes, depending on what’s on tap for that first trip through the Alps. But all of them are in the second half of the race unless the organization decides the balanced nature of its 2023 route is a formula worth keeping and wants a summit finish on the first pass through the Alps. There are at least 35 km of individual time trial, with likely one more test against the clock in the first week (whether individual or team is not yet known, but the last time the Tour held a TTT was 2019).
What’s missing? For the second year in a row, we’ll see hardly anything of Provence. There’s nothing in the north and west at all: Brittany, Normandy, and the rest of the Channel coast are left out. But have no worry: rumors are of course already percolating about the 2025 Tour, with a supposed Grand Depart around Lille and a trip into Brittany. Sounds like fun, right? But first, let’s get to next Wednesday, when we’ll finally know for sure what we’ll see in 2024.
What did you think of this story?