Bilbao (AFP) – The Visit de France begins in Bilbao on Saturday with two major top choices – – reigning champ Jonas Vingegaard and double cross victor Tadej Pogacar, next in line the year before.
Five things to know before the 110th running of the three-week race are examined by AFP Sport.
25th start outside France
For the 25th time, the Tour will start outside of France. San Sebastian in 1992 was the second start from the Spanish Basque Country. After two phases in Spain, the peloton sets out toward Bayonne in France. The Grande Boucle began in Copenhagen in 2022 and will start in Florence, Italy, in 2024. Urban areas pay the consequences for the option to have the Amazing Withdraw, which race coordinators ASO demand grows the global impact of quite possibly the most excellent game on the planet.
A very mountainous route
With almost 56,000 meters of getting over, a record 30 passes, five French mountain ranges and a solitary time-preliminary, this Visit presents an extreme profile favouring climbers. The Tour returns to the Puy de Dome in the Massif Central after 35 years following the Pyrenees. The race will then ascend through the Jura, the Alps, and the Vosges on the eve of the July 23 finale in Paris. The main stage will take the race to Courchevel via the Col de la Loze (2,304 m).
Pogacar-Vingegaard highest point duel
The big favourites are Dane Vingegaard, who won the event last year after finishing second in 2021, and Slovenian Pogacar, who won in 2020 and 2021 and finished second in 2022. Pogacar broke his wrist on April 23 during the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but his form is unknown. The first concern for Vingegaard is whether or not he can withstand the pressure of defending his title. Twelve riders, including French pair David Gaudu and Romain Bardet, Spaniard Enric Mas and the Australian Ben O’Connor, could battle for platform places. Remco Evenepoel, Primoz Roglic and Geraint Thomas are the principal non-attendants.
Priority is paid to safety.
The demise of the Swiss rider Gino Maeder in mid-June, diving a mountain during the Visit through Switzerland, plunged the peloton into chaos and reignited the discussion over security. Many riders, which are used to going faster than 100 kilometres per hour downhill, expressed their concern, pointing out that danger is an essential aspect of their sport. The organizers have planned precautions, such as installing padding on certain turns to prevent riders from falling into the void.
Covid-19 is only a distant memory in most sports, but virus protocols mean cycling must compete in another Tour. The Giro d’Italia organizers want to avoid the issues that occurred this year when Evenepoel pulled out after a positive test while leading. Staff, journalists, and guests must wear masks when interacting with riders, and they are urged not to take selfies or sign autographs. This is the same as the previous three Tours.