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Oct 23, 2016 – To end this week’s synopsis of the just-announced route of next year’s Tour de France, we head to the Col d’Izoard, which for the first time in Tour history will be included as a stage finish. This image, taken during stage 18 of the 2011 Tour, shows an attacking Andy Schleck, who’s just starting the long breakaway that took him to stage victory at the summit of the Col du Galibier. This upper section of the Izoard, just after passing the iconic crags of the Casse Déserte, will be 2 kilometers from the finish of stage 18 next year.
#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada
That stage starts in Briançon, the highest incorporated city in France, and measure 178 kilometers in length. It first heads south on mostly valley roads through the towns of Embrun and Barcelonnette, before returning to the north over the Col de Vars to the foot of the Izoard at Guillestre.
The final 30 kilometers are nearly all uphill, first along the Queyras canyon, before the final 15 kilometers. On leaving the village of Arvieux, the climb hits a steady 9-percent grade for 7 kilometers to reach the Casse Déserte. The summit is at 2,360 meters elevation. Will there be another showdown on this final climb of the Tour between Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana, just like there was at the past two Tours? Or will another challenger emerge?
After the Izoard, there remain three stages in next year’s race: the Tour’s longest stage of 220 kilometers to Salon-de-Provence that favors breakaways; a 23-kilometer individual time trial in Marseille; and (after a flight to Paris for the riders) the final sprint stage on the Champs-Élysées.