What will probably be the hardest stage of the 2019 Tour de France? Stage 18 on Wednesday, 24th July. To put it into perspective, 2017 Stage 18 was 178km. For 2019 they've added the Galibier as well and then a fast descent into Valloire
A Brute of a Stage - Stage 18 Wednesday 24th July 2019!
For us living and cycling in Serre Chevalier this is a dream stage featuring two of the most iconic climbs in France. This will be the stage that could well define the outcome of the tour.
The result on the day might not reflect the actual winner of the tour, as riders will be more than conscious of the days to follow afterwards, so the GC contenders will be marking each other closely.
However it is the length and ferocity of the amount of climbing packed into this stage that will expose any weaknesses in the following days afterwards.
My money will be on Primoz Roglic (that's if he's riding) who won in Serre Chevalier back in 2017 and who seems to excel at finishes involving a big descent after a lot of climbing.
Stage 19 is in comparison short at 123km to Tignes but they climb the mighty Col d'Iseran 2,770m, which is the highest pass in Europe and just about the only Col in France I have not tackled.
They descend down into Val d'Isère and then across the dam for the final sharp climb to Tignes.
The last day in the mountains will be the stage that the amateurs will tackle the Sunday before for the Etape. Only 131km but with three tough climbs. The Cormet de Roselend, the Côte de Longefoy and then a long 34km slog up to Val Thorens at 2365m.
Whoever wears the yellow jersey in Val Thorens will ride into Paris the next day as the winner of the 2019 Tour de France.
For Stage 18 in the 2019 Tour de France they depart Embrun and head down towards Lac Serre Poncon where they ride around the lake with it's spectacular views and then head up the Ubaye towards Barcelonnette and on towards the Col de Vars.
Then it's a descent down to Guillestre and along Les Gorges du Guil and the Queyras before the start of the climb up to the Col d'Izoard via Casses Desertes, which back in 2017 would have just about been the stage.
This time as they reach the Col it's a long 19km descent down into Briancon and straight back into climbing mode for the long drag up to the Col du Lautaret and the final attack up to the Col du Galibier at 2,642m.
Once atop the Galibier it's one or my favourite descents down to Valloire.
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