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‘Dazzling’ finish to new-look Tour de France route

Paris: High altitude, an Italian debut in Florence and a finale on the French Riviera are on the itinerary of the 3,492km route for the 2024 Tour de France unveiled on Wednesday.

The route embarks from Florence on June 29 and features four high altitude finishes as the race crosses the Alps twice and squeezes in two time-trials, including a potential high drama final day run from Monaco to Nice on July 21.

It is the first time the race does not finish in Paris which is off limits as it prepares to host the Olympic Games.

As spectacular as it is atypical, the route was revealed at a Gala overseen by Christian Prudhomme, president of the organisers ASO in front of almost 4000 guests and many of the expected competitors, mayors from along the route and a large press pack at a conference centre in Paris.

The Florence start and Nice finish were already known, prompting much excitement about not only the first ever Grand Depart in Italy, but the race’s first ever finale outside Paris.

“It’s difficult to replace Paris, so what better scenery could we give than than a dazzling Monaco to Nice time-trial,” said Prudhomme.

Instead of the traditional last day parade along the Champs Elysees, fans can instead anticipate a potentially decisive individual time trial down the Riviera coastline and in the hills between Monaco and Nice.

The scenario brings to mind the 1989 edition when American rider Greg LeMond beat Laurent Fignon by eight seconds on a last day dash.

After the Florence start, the race takes in Rimini on the Adriatic coast before cutting across Italy via Bologna and Turin and into France via the Alps on stage four.

“The Tour has never climbed so high, so early,” said Prudhomme. “The panoramas in the high Alps are just splendid.”

Stage six will catch the eye of wine lovers as it takes in the “Route des Grands Crus” between Macon and Dijon while stage seven goes through the vineyards of Nuits-Saint-Georges in Bourgogne.

There are a series of stages for the one-day specialists and for the sprinters, but the southern Alps will likely mark the start of the final battle for the yellow jersey.

“Could this herald a duel playing out between two, three, or – let’s dream a little here – even four contenders,” Prudhomme said after the 2023 Tour was marked by the two way duel between Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar.

A more generous than usual 60km total over the two time-trials will please the fast men such as Remco Evenepoel or Primoz Roglic.

The seven mountain stages, meanwhile, and four high altitude finales with the highest at 2802m on stage 19, will be very much to the liking of defending champion Vingegaard.

After Troyes in the Champagne region the race swoops south-east toward Pau and the Pyrenees, then heads west through Nimes back to the Alps and and the mouthwatering finale on the Riviera.