The Tour de France is defined by its climbs. Whether it’s a yellow jersey battle or the epée for the polka dot jersey, the climbs are the main attraction for the 21-day long tour around France. With just a couple of days to go until the Tour de France sets off from Nice, let’s discuss the key climbs that are bound tio define the 2020 edition of the world’s greatest bike race.
Col de la LozeEmbed from Getty Images
Standing at 2,304m above sea level, it’s hard to look past the new Col de la Loze as the stand-out climb in this year’s parcours. The fresh tarmac of the Col de la Loze offers a unique finale in this year’s race for many reasons, but most of all for its difficulty. Spanning 21 km and averaging 7.8% gradient, the climb’s final kilometres will be ridden on a cycling-specific pathway, the likes of which we have never seen before in the race. On top of this, the final kilometres will average at around 10% and will see slopes hit 20% at some points! A tougher challenge would be harder to find. We are sure to find out who the real climbers are once we reach the finish line of stage 17 on this Col de la Loze climb.
Col de la MadeleineEmbed from Getty Images
The Col de la Madeleine has been a staple of the Alps since its first passage in 1969. The climb sits firmly between Saint Jean de Maurienne and Albertville, 2 common TDF start locations, but this year the race will cross the climb before the peloton head for the Col de la Loze on stage 17. The climb is steady in gradient at 8% but lasts for 17 km. It is fairly categorised as hors catégorie (out if category) and could act as a springboard for those looking to make a daring move on this challenging day.
Col des Quatre CheminsEmbed from Getty Images
The Col des Quatre Chemins may not be a categorised climb at this year’s Tour de France but it may be one of the most exciting and crucial climbs of the first week of the race. Usually ranked as a category 2 at the Paris-Nice stage race, the Col des 4 Chemins will be the final climb on stage 2 of this year’s Tour. As the riders approach Nice, they will tackle this 5.5 km long climb at an average of 5.5%. This may not seem quite as tough as the others that we are going to see in this list but with there being bonus seconds for the first over the climb and a fast downhill finish on the cards – this climb may prove to be pivotal for some riders Tour de France campaigns. The French will be hoping to see the likes of Julian Alaphilippe and Thibaut Pinot attack on the climb to take the yellow jersey but I’m sure that Roglic and Bernal will try their best to light things up on this Paris-Nice staple.
Orcières-MerletteEmbed from Getty Images
Placed at the finish of stage of the 2020 Tour de France, the climb to Orcières Merlette will be the first summit finish of this year’s edition. The climb may not look all that challenging on paper at just 7 km in length and a 6% average but the restless peloton will be sure to make this climb hard on stage 4 of the race. As the first summit finish, we are sure to be in for some surprises. Historically, the stage played host to a time trial back in 1989, a year considered by many as the best Tour de France in history. On that day we saw cycling legend Greg LeMond clinch the yellow jersey, could we be seeing another Tour legend port the maillot jaune on the summit of Orcières-Merlette this year?
Grand ColombierEmbed from Getty Images
Known for its lush green hairpins, the Col du Grand Colombier has only been used twice before in the Tour de France including when Thomas Voeckler lead over the climb on his way to vanquish the polka-dot jersey in 2012. Le Grand Colombier, translating to the large dove house, will be one of the toughest summit finishes of the race. Taking place at the end of the second week of racing on stage 15, the climb up the Grand Colombier will test the riders over 17 km at a 7% average. The climb has no rest in it, ramping up and creating a truly testing climb where we will find out who the real title contenders are. In recent memory, it was Roglic who tamed the climb at the recent Tour de l’Ain – could he do the same again?
Col de Marie BlanqueEmbed from Getty Images
The Marie Blanque pass was last used in 2010 on the same day as the mythical stage up to the Col de Tourmalet. It averages at 8.6% over the 7 km ascension but the gradient ramps up to 11% at some points. This climb will be the last climb of the Pyrenees, thus proving critical for those looking to make the most of their time in this mountain range. It also sits at the end of the first week on stage 9, opening itself up to a frantic battle for seconds on the climb of the Marie Blanque and its descent.
Col de PeyresourdeEmbed from Getty Images
The Col de Peyresourde is one of the most frequently used climbs in the Pyrenees mountain range, featuring in the race on 67 occasions. The climb is the perfect example of a Pyrenean climb, short, narrow and tough. At just under 10 km in length and at an average percentage of 7.8%, this climb does not let up until the very end. The gradient comes close to 8 and 9% in many points, allowing for a challenging end to stage 8 on the way down to Loudenvielle. You may remember this climb from 2016 when Chris Froome launched his iconic downhill attack on his way to winning that year’s edition of the race. With a similar finish on the agenda, who will shock us cycling fans this time?
La Planche des Belles FillesEmbed from Getty Images
The Vosges’ most iconic climb, La Planche des Belles Filles has taken its place as one of the most mythical climbs of the last decade of the Tour de France. With such moments such as Ciccone taking yellow, Aru’s maiden Tour win, Froome’s breakthrough – it’s no wonder why this climb is back again. This year however it takes a unique place as the final climb of the 2020 Tour de France on stage 20, but also, this stage will play host to the only time trial in this year’s edition. The riders will battle against the clock on the leg-breaking slopes of La Planche des Belles Filles which average 8.5% in gradient over the course of the 6 km long climb. However, the testing final slopes of the climb even hit 20%, proving to be the last challenge of the Tour de France. Upon the arrival of the final rider, we will finally know the name of the winner of the 2020 Tour de France.