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The 2024 Tour de France route concluded with a satisfying finish, despite the challenging terrain. For the first time in history, the race did not pass through Paris.

Each year, the margins of victory in the men’s Tour de France become smaller. To secure a third win in 2024, defending champion Jonas Vingegaard will have to perform at his peak. This will be a difficult task since other Grand Tour winners, such as Tadej Pogacar, Primoz Roglic, and Remco Evenepoel, will also be aiming for victory on the French Riviera on July 21st.

The 2024 edition of the men’s Tour will begin on 29 June, earlier than usual, to create a week-long gap between the final stage in Nice (the first time the race has ended outside of the capital) and the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Paris. The start of the race will take place in Florence and will include three stages in Italy before crossing the Alps into France. The route will take the riders from Piedmont to the challenging mountain climbs of Haute Savoie.

The Tour de France offers a variety of challenges, including two lengthy time trials, some flat stages, 32 kilometers of gravel roads, and finishes at the French Alps, Massif Central, and Pyrenees. Even Mark Cavendish, who has delayed his retirement for another year, is eager to compete and potentially win his 35th stage, breaking a record.

In order to surpass Eddy Merckx’s long-held record, Cavendish will need to have a strong start. The 38-year-old expressed concern over the challenging 2024 route, especially with the French Alps being included early on.

“There are several stages that need to be reached, which is the issue,” stated Cavendish during the Tour presentation, in regards to the atypical early Alpine challenge of stage four from Pinerolo to Valloire.

Cavendish expressed difficulty with the Tour’s route, acknowledging that there were few chances for true sprinting. “I’m honestly quite surprised,” he added.

Mark Cavendish of Astana Qazaqstan Team descends the Col du Tourmalet in the 2023 Tour de France

The plans for the men’s 2024 course indicate a thrilling race. Once it departs from Haute Savoie, the race will leave the Alps and pass through Dijon and Colombey-les-Deux-Églises before traversing 14 sections of gravel roads to reach Troyes, where the first rest day will take place.

The group of cyclists will travel south from Orleans to the Massif Central, facing a challenging leg through the Cantal region to Le Lioran. This will be followed by three stages leading to the Pyrenees, including two high-altitude finishes at Pla d’Adet and Plateau de Beille.

Following a day of rest, the group of cyclists will ride through the southern French Alps for an exciting finish that includes three challenging mountain climbs and a time trial from Monaco to Nice, taking in the scenic coastal roads of the Côte d’Azur.

Despite a chaotic autumn where his mentor Primoz Roglic switched teams to Bora-Hansgrohe, defending champion Vingegaard of Jumbo-Visma remained determined and focused.

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As Roglic becomes a competitor, Vingegaard will face tough competition from the reigning time trial champion, Evenepoel of Soudal-Quickstep, and his longtime rival and former Tour de France champion, Pogacar, who is racing for UAE Emirates.

However, similar to others, the Danish cyclist was not overly enthusiastic about the number of gravel sections included in the stage to Troyes. “I think it adds an interesting aspect, but it also poses a risk for potentially losing the Tour,” Vingegaard commented. “If one of the top contenders were to lose five minutes there, it would be a disappointment. We just have to stay focused and prepared for any challenges.”

The female edition of the Tour de France will commence in Rotterdam on August 12, following the conclusion of the Olympics. The first three stages will take place in Rotterdam, before the women’s cycling group moves on to the Belgian Ardennes for a classic-style fourth stage from Valkenburg to Liège.

However, the Alps will once again be a prominent feature during the last weekend of the race. The second-to-last stage will take place in Le Grand Bornand, followed by an exciting finale on the challenging hairpin turns of Alpe d’Huez on the final stage. This climb has historically favored Dutch riders and the current champion, Demi Vollering, who emerged victorious on the Col du Tourmalet in July, will likely be the top contender.

Source: theguardian.com