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Rapha's cycling guide to the 2020 Tour de France week 3

Tour de France Guide: Week 3

As the leaves fall from the trees and the sun sets shortly after each day’s stage finish, time is running out for riders to make their mark on this strangest of Tours. As ever, the third week is largely the preserve of the climbers and overall contenders but there are opportunities for the fastmen too. Here’s what to look out for on the run into Paris.

10 September 2020

15.

Lyon - Grand Colombier

13.9.20 – 175km

 

A giant of the Jura, the Grand Colombier didn’t appear on the Tour until 2012 but since then it has become a firm favourite. With a spectacular series of hairpins and commanding views over the Lac du Bourget, it’s picturesque and this year hosts its first summit finish. And with two categorised climbs before the Grand Colombier, it’s sure to be decisive for GC.

 

Who does it suit?

Will Roglic peak too soon? Will Bernal recover in time? Only time will tell. Our call for this stage is Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez who has looked very strong every time the road has tilted upwards.

16.

La Tour-du-Pin - Villard-de-Lans

15.9.20 – 164km

 

The last time the Tour visited these parts, it took on an identical route. Frenchman Laurent Fignon looked to have the title sewn up in 1989 as he won by 24 seconds to extend his lead to nearly a minute. Famously, it wouldn’t be enough. Over three decades later, we can only hope for the same amount of suspense.

 

Who does it suit?

With climbs that are hard but not destructive, this stage is fertile ground for an ambush. A strong breakaway specialist or distanced GC favourite might well win. Mikel Landa perhaps?

17.

Grenoble - Méribel Col de la Loze

16.9.20 – 168km

 

Now here’s a stage for the cycling campaigners, complete with a spectacular piece of new cycling infrastructure which won’t help you on your ride to work but could well prove to be decisive in deciding the winner of this Tour. From Grenoble, we take on the iconic Madeleine followed by an unused ascent to the Col de la Loze, the last eight kilometres of which will be raced on a newly surfaced bike path. What’s not to like?

 

Who does it suit?

Altitude comes into play today as the race crests 2,000 metres twice. Logic and last year suggest that this will put the peloton’s Colombian contingent, and perhaps the 2019 winner, to the fore.

18.

Méribel - La Roche-sur-Foron

17.9.20 – 168km

 

For the final Alpine stage of this year’s race, the ASO have rolled out some of the range’s biggest hitters with the classic combination of the Cormet de Roselend, Saisies and Aravis. Debuted two years ago, the Plateau des Glières is the final climb of the day and also the toughest, sure to cause a GC shake up and reduce the bunch to an elite echelon of overall contenders.

 

Who does it suit?

Who’d bet against Wout van Aert pulling on the flat, whittling down the group on the climbs, then galloping away to another stage win. We would, this one’s for his teammate Sepp Kuss.

19.

Bourg-en-Bresse - Champagnole

18.9.20 – 160km

 

For the sprinters who remain at the start of this stage, it will feel like a long time since that last relatively simple sprinter’s stage. All the more reason to make the most of it. There are a few lumps and bumps on today’s route but nothing to trouble the fastmen who will duke it out in Champagnole, which hosts only its second stage finish, the small matter of 83 years after its first.

 

Who does it suit?

Sprints contested by riders with nearly weeks’ racing in their legs are almost another discipline. Ewan, Bennett and Van Aert might have lost some sparkle by now, so we back Kristoff to come good.

20.

Lure - La Planche des Belles Filles

19.9.20 – 191km

 

It’s been thirty-five years since Bernard Hinault last won the Tour for France, and if there was a stage for that drought to be ended, this is it. We’re in Thibaut Pinot’s backyard in the Vosges for the race’s only time trial and hopefully a finale that runs the iconic battle between LeMond and Fignon close in the drama stakes.

 

Who does it suit?

Everyone will be talking about Thibaut but this course suits Roglič to a tee. Hold onto your hats for this one, all bets are off.

21.

Mantes-la-Jolie - Paris

20.9.20 – 122km

 

The race’s arrival in Paris is by no means certain but if the riders make it, they'll already be two months late. The sprinters’ teams will be making up for lost, working hard to reel in the inevitable breakaway before the biggest set piece sprint of the year on the Champs Elysées.

 

Who does it suit?

Can Kristoff bookend his Tour? Might Bennett get lucky? It’s a wide open sprint field this year but, for our money, Caleb Ewan is still the favourite here.

What The Pros Are Wearing

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Tour de France Guide: Week 1

Fasten your seatbelts for an unusually lumpy first week of racing that will take the peloton from the Med to the Massif Central.

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Tour de France Guide: Week 2

If the riders thought the first week was tough, it’s not about to get any easier. As the Tour travels from Lavaur and Lyon, we take you through all that will come in between.

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