The riders have already traversed the coast of the Med and the Pyrenees in this fictional 2013 route, taking in three summit finishes to the Tourmalet, Saint-Lary-Soulon and Hautcam. After some transitional days, the final nine days of the Tour are sure to ensure that only the strongest and best all around rider’s will survive to the finish, let alone even win the race…
Stage Thirteen: Friday 20th July, Strasbourg-Strasbourg TT 23.67miles/42.4km
The final time trial of the Tour is placed with eight days to go to prevent the negative racing that its placement on the final Saturday does, as everyone simply looks to the time trial rather then the mountains to gain time. This is the concession to the time triallists, who have a pan flat 25 mile circuit to play with, and will force the climbers to attack in the last week. Of course, it also gives some variety by ensuring the winner will have tackled all disciplines – a prologue, a hilly TT and a long one – and so makes their victory all the better.
Stage Fourteen: Saturday 21st July, Belfort-Dijon 104.06miles/167.4km
A slightly lumpier transfer stage should be the last chance for the sprinters, fresh with the knowledge they can chase with a rest day the next day, and the sprint into Dijon should be spectacular with its City Hall and cathedrals as a backdrop.
Rest Day: Sunday 21st July, Geneva A Sunday rest day will not be to TV’s liking, or indeed spectators, but this seems a sensible place to put it in order to ensure full on racing in the last week. I’ve often felt putting the last rest day with just four days to go was a waste, and gave the riders who may be on the edge of breaking a chance to come back. This rest at Geneva will be the final calm before the storm.
Stage Fifteen: Monday 22nd July, Genevea-Col du Grand Colombier 105.88m/170.4km
One of the highlights of the 2011 Tour in terms of scenery was the winding coils of the Col du Grand Colombier up the mountain side. Unfortunately, the mountain was miles from the finish, but this stage, all about beauty and suffering, rectifies that. After rolling past the shores of Lake Geneva and skirting Lake Annecy, the riders pop into Aix-les-Baines to tackle some cruel climbing before a fourth summit finish atop the Grand Colombier’s super steep ramps.
Stage Sixteen: Tuesday 23rd July, Fessons-sur-Isere-La Toussuire 66.35miles/106.7km
This stage copies the Alpine stage of the 2011 Tour, albeit making it a bit shorter to make it more aggressive. At just 66 miles, and with ascents of the 2000m Madelaine and Col de la Croix de Fer before a fifth summit finish at La Toussuire, this should be one for attacking climbers on a mission, especially if the King of the Mountains is their goal.
Stage Seventeen: Wednesday 24th July, Bourg d’Oisons-Alpe d’Huez 109.8miles/175.5km
This Alpine ring of death, taking in the Glandon, the Telegraphe, Galibier and Alpe d’Huez is arguably the Queen stage of the race, cruelly starting in Borg-d’Oissons just below where the riders will finish. Alpe d’Huez is the Hollywood climb of the tour…who will get their name written on one of its legendary hairpins today?
Stage Eighteen: Thursday 25th July, Susa- Col de la Bonnette 119.53miles/192.3km
The Tour takes an outing to Italy for arguably the hardest stage of the race, a 192km behemoth that will destory the legs first with the Col de Finnestre and Sestriere before taking in various ‘small’ mountains before arriving at the races penultimate summit finish – the 2715m Col de Bonnette, the highest finish the Tour will have ever had, although not quite surpassing the mighty Stelvio. The massive amount of climbing, fatigue, altitude and distance will make this stage a killer.
Stage Nineteen: Saint-Ettienne-Mount Ventoux 141.1miles/227km
The real Queen stage, this evil stage makes the riders climb the feared Mount Ventoux twice, finishing from the classic Bedoin stage. Whilst the top GC guys will be keen to mark their way up the final ascent, others will be looking at the first ascent to make the difference that could propel them to a podium finish of even better…whats certain is that this will be spectacular, and that even if they fail, the riders will still have one last cruel stage avaliable to make their move, and it isn’t even mountainous…
Stage Twenty: Reims-Arenberg 111.85miles/180km
After a long transfer, the riders will have the mental conflict of the long journey playing off against the knowledge that Paris is so close…but even if the Yellow Jersey has a five minute lead, he will not be resting easy. For this stage ends with the 2.4km drag along the Arenberg Forest and its apocalyptically evil cobble stones, coming at the end of a race where fatigue has been building steadily. A late shock could be on the cards, assuming there isnt some protest and the GC riders roll in as best they can together, which is likely. This should provide an crazy and fitting finale however, ensuring the winner will have tackled mountains, flats, hill, time trials and cobbles – could there be a more complete winner?
Stage Twenty One: Paris-Champs-Elysees 61.86miles/99.5km
Finally, Paris. The riders will Tour the city, starting from La Defense and skirting past Sacre Coeur, Notre Damne and the Eiffel Tour before making their way towards the final eight circuits of the Champs-Elysees. I did consider a time trial in honour of the 1989 race, but the time gaps will probably be too big for it too have made a difference.
And so that’s it. Not brilliant I admit – probably too hard, certainly too many transfers, plus the cobbled stage would probably see me executed by the riders union after forcing them up the Ventoux twice in one day. This made me appreciate what a tricky job route planning is, and that’s why I don’t expect too many calls from Mr Prudhomme and co, who will no doubt come up with something even more spectacular then we could have possible imagined for the Tour’s special year.
Final Distance – 2111.06m/3365.3km