Designing the Tour de France Course: A Fan’s Perspective
Over the years of watching cycling, each of us has become a potential designer of the Tour de France route. The excitement that surrounds the presentation of the tour route is undeniable, as fans eagerly share their opinions and preferences.
For many of us, the Tour holds a special place in our hearts. We have grown up with familiar names, places, and images that have become synonymous with the race. We hope to see these iconic elements incorporated into the route year after year, despite the ever-changing nature of the sport.
As a passionate fan, I have compiled a list of must-have features that would make every July a memorable experience:
The Galibier: A Timeless Fixture
The Galibier is a peak that has captivated cycling enthusiasts for generations. Its majestic presence and the extraordinary moments it has witnessed, such as Contador, Indurain, Rominger, and Roglic’s triumphs, make it an essential part of the Tour. The Galibier never fails to impress, especially when approached from the Telegraphe side. Any Tour without the Galibier would be incomplete.
Alternating Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez
Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez are legendary peaks that always deliver thrilling moments. These iconic climbs, associated with names like Coppi and Simpson, evoke the rich history of cycling. It’s advisable to avoid visiting them on July 14, as the crowds can be overwhelming. Nonetheless, their mystique adds a touch of romance to the race.
The Tourmalet: A Pyrenean Staple
The Pyrenees offer a treasure trove of mountain passes, with the Tourmalet being a constant presence. However, we should not overlook the lesser-known but equally beautiful climbs, such as Bales and Larrau. Larrau, in particular, holds a special significance as the place where Indurain faced his toughest challenge. These breathtaking landscapes deserve more frequent visits, complemented by the likes of Aspin, Peyresourde, and Aubisque.
A Prologue: Reviving a Noble Tradition
A prologue, though not a necessity for every edition, would be a welcome addition. This initial time trial allows fans to witness their favorite riders one by one, while also showcasing the host cities. It would be a return to the profiles that initially captured our love for the sport, reminiscent of legends like Thierry Marie, Chris Boardman, and Erik Breukink in the famous Luxembourg prologue.
The Forgotten Time Trials
Time trials, often overlooked in modern cycling, hold immense significance. It has been years since we last witnessed a memorable time trial, with Pogacar’s triumph being a recent exception. Lance Armstrong’s domination on the road to Alpe d’Huez remains etched in our memories. Combining the elements of time trials and climbs creates a stage of true reality for all riders. While they may not be a regular feature, their inclusion has always resulted in captivating moments.
And who can forget Jeff Bernard’s iconic performance in the 1987 Tour?
Dirt and Cobblestone: Embracing Uncertainty
While the inclusion of sterrato and cobblestone may add stress to the favorites, it adds an element of unpredictability and excitement. These challenging terrains often lead to unexpected outcomes, creating a spectacle that keeps fans on the edge of their seats.
A Grand Finale Beyond Champs-Élysées
The upcoming coincidence of the Tour and the Olympic Games in Paris presents a unique opportunity. It allows us to witness an online race in the capital, competing for the road cycling gold medal with a different route than the traditional Champs-Élysées finale. This Olympic race will showcase alternative options in Paris, encouraging us to consider a similar stage to conclude the 2025 Tour.
Image: ASO/Charly Lopez