2024 Tour de France Preview

2024 Tour de France Preview

Last year was a year for the record books: Team Visma – Lease a Bike, Cervelo and Reserve won all three Grand Tours in a single year, a feat which is not likely to be repeated.

Obviously, this year is not going to plan, as all of the team’s good luck garnered in 2023 seems to have quickly turned into a string of unfortunate incidents. Jonas and Wout were both injured in early season crashes, which definitely put a damper on any chance of making a challenge for the 2024 Giro d’Italia (in the end, won by Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, in dominating fashion).

The second “big” race on the calendar is one that starts this weekend. The 2024 Tour de France begins on Saturday 29 June and marks the 111th edition of cycling's flagship race.

The race starts in Florence and traces a path east across the country, before heading back west towards France and into the Alps, ending three weeks later in Nice on Sunday, July 21.

This year is the first time the Tour starts in Italy and the first time it finishes in Nice (to avoid the preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympics Games, which begin just a week later). The riders will also take on the Apennines, Massif Central and the Pyrenees mountain ranges, and pass through Italy, San Marino, Monaco and France.

The world's best riders are set to vie for overall victory, with newly crowned Giro d'Italia winner Pogačar due to take on Jonas and Remco Evenepoel, and Primož Roglič, all three of which have been injured in crashes this year.

The route of the world's biggest race covers an estimated of 3,492 kilometers with some 52,320 meters of overall elevation. As reference, when the course was revealed in October, cycling legend Eddy Merckx, said that he was "in shock" and that this was the "toughest course" he had ever seen.

It features two individual time trials for a total of 59 kilometers, four mountain-top finishes, a series of gravel sections on stage 9, and a final hilly time trial to Nice. One for the climbers, the route incorporates four summit finishes, spans four mountain ranges, and features the hilliest opening stage in Tour de France history. 

One of the most interesting and intriguing routes of recent years, sitting between the predominantly hilly week one and week three sits a flatter week two, and stage nine – with an abundance of white roads; 14 sectors in total.

There's plenty for the sprinters as well as the general classification and climbing specialists, although there are going to be some tough mountains to get over to reach the sprint stages. One of the highlights will be the return of Mark Cavendish, who postponed retirement to target the Tour win record.

For the first time in 35 years, a final day time trial means the yellow jersey won't be decided on the penultimate day. 

The good news is that at time of writing this, defending champion Jonas Vingegaard and former green jersey winner Wout van Aert will start the 111th Tour de France in Florence on Saturday, June 29th. Bad news this week was that 2023's Vuelta winner Sepp Kuss was out due to lingering issues related to a recent bout of Covid.

The team said that Vingegaard has worked hard over the past two months to get fit in time, with a long stint at high altitude in Tigne, France.

Said Vingegaard: "I am excited to start the Tour. The last few months have not always been easy, but I thank my family and Team Visma - Lease a Bike for their unwavering support. We have worked together to get to this moment, and of course, I am very excited to see where I stand. I feel good and very motivated."

At the Tour this year, the team pays homage to the Renaissance with a special Tour de France jersey inspired by the spirit of this remarkable period of development. Said the Team: "The drive for innovation and progress from that era reflects the team's mission to push boundaries and strive for improvement every day. The unique Renaissance pattern on the Tour jersey represents this mindset."

Let's hope we see another exciting start to the Tour.



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