Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
The 2016 season’s final week of racing in Europe is focused on this coming Sunday’s Paris–Tours race. That’s because the venerable French classic, first held in 1896, is reviving some of its past glory. The organizer, ASO, has increased the race distance to 252.5 kilometers and eliminated two of the late hills to give sprinters a dress rehearsal for this year’s world road championship taking place in Doha, Qatar (#UCIDoha2016) on October 16.
#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada
To accommodate the extra distance, the start of the race has been moved 33 kilometers north of last year’s start in Chartres, to Dreux, a city 70 kilometers due west of Paris. The new course allows Paris–Tours to again start out through the Beauce region, which is characterized by long, straight roads across windswept plains where farmers tend agricultural land and hunt in the forests at weekends—as seen in this image from an early part of the 2005 race.
This Sunday will see the 110th edition of Paris–Tours, traditionally known as the sprinters’ classic because the flat terrain often favors a mass sprint finish. In postwar years, some of the more famous sprinters to win the event have been the Belgians Rik Van Looy, Guido Reybrouck and Freddy Maertens, the Italians Nicola Minali and Alessandro Petacchi, Germany’s Erik Zabel and Spain’s Oscar Freire.