PARIS -- Next year's Tour de France will feature two routes through the Alps as organizers avoid Paris due to the summer Olympics being held there
For the first time since its inception in 1903, the men's Tour will not finish in Paris, with the winner being crowned in Nice on July 21 after the race's Grand Depart in Florence, Italy.
With the Olympics scheduled to take place in Paris from July 26 to August 11, organizers decided to ease the pressure on law enforcement by avoiding the capital after negotiations with the government.
"We were determined to avoid Paris because of the Olympics," Tour director Christian Prudhomme told Reuters. "We only have 28,000 police officers, and we knew we couldn't get any more."
Four stages will be held in Italy, and some big names will be honored: the second stage will start near the birthplace of the late Marco Pantani and finish in Rimini, where he died in 2004.
The peloton will head to the Alps already on the fourth stage and will return for the final stage of racing, which will be decided by a mountain stage ending at Col de la Cayolle and an individual time trial in hilly terrain between Monaco and Nice.
For the first time since 1989, a final time trial stage will be held. Since Greg LeMond won the time trial on the Champs-Elysees and beat Frenchman Laurent Fignon by eight seconds in the overall standings, the final stage has always been a procession, with only the final sprint being contested.
"The last three or four days will be very tough because we'll be in the mountains," Prudhomme told Reuters.
Defending champion Jonas Vingegaard and second-place finisher Tadej Pogacar, if he participates, will again be the top favorites.
The women's race will also bypass France for the first three days, travel to the Netherlands and Belgium, and finish in Alpe d'Huez.
"We rode on the Tourmalet last year, we wanted to go to iconic places, and Alpe d'Huez is part of cycling history," women's race director Marion Rousse told reporters. "It's the toughest stage in the history of the women's Tour de France with 4,000 meters of climbing. There's also the Col du Glandon, which I believe is the hardest in France. Women have proven they have the level for this."