2014 Tour de France Preview and Predictions
The parcours of the 2014 Tour de France favors climbers.
The parcours of the 2014 Tour de France favors climbers. The riders will take on three mountain ranges—the Vosges, the Alps, and the Pyrenees—and five mountaintop finishes. The race will have only one time trial, and it will include cobbles, which inject unpredictability, particularly for GC riders who might not be used to riding on them. The race’s 3,664 km will include an interesting combination of terrains. In addition, the race will have a number of starts and finishes in areas that the First World War, the centennial of which will occur in 2014, ravaged.
The race will begin in Yorkshire, England. Sprinters and classics men will dominate the first three stages. Stage 1 will take the field from Leeds to Harrogate, while Stage 2 will be a lumpy ride from York to Sheffield that a classics man should win. The third stage will go from Cambridge to London. The first stage will give Mark Cavendish a chance to wear the yellow jersey in front of his compatriots.
The Tour will cross the English Channel for Stage 4. The stage will take the riders from Le Touquet Paris-Plage, the site of one of the biggest Allied hospitals of the First World War, to Lille, the scene of fierce fighting in October 1914. Stage 5 will run from Ypres, Belgium, the scene of three major battles and the place where poison gas was first used, to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut. This stage will include 15.4-km of cobbles and should be won by a classics man.
The next two stages will provide additional commemoration of the war. Stage 6 will take the riders from Arras, the scene of France’s 1917 offensive, to Reims, whose cathedral was damaged. Stage 7 will run from Epernay to Nancy, with much of the ride running along the Voie Sacree (the Sacred Way), the road on which supplies traveled to the defenders of Verdun, France’s largest and costliest World War I battle.
The riders will head into the Vosges mountains for the next three stages. These three days will culminate with Stage 10, a 161-km ride that will take the riders over seven climbs before they reach the ascent to the finish. The field will face tougher climbs than the ones in this stage, but for sustained climbing, Stage 10 might be the race’s hardest stage. It will not decide who will win, but it could decide who will not. The rest day after this stage will be well earned.
The next two stages will be transitional ones that will give breakaways their chance to shine. Stage 13 will be the first Alpine stage. It will end with an hors categorie climb to the finish in Chamrousse. Stage 14 will take the riders over the Col du Lautaret and the Col d’Izoard before they tackle the climb to the finish. The Tour’s second rest day will follow Stage 15, which will probably be a ride for stage hunters.
Stage 16, which will run from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon, will be a transitional stage as the riders approach the Pyrenees. It