It’s been a long time since I wrote about TDF rumors, but I’m even more keenly following them these days because of the business. John and I run yearly Etape du Tour packages now and the route / location is never officially known until the October TDF route announcement (the Etape du Tour traces one of the hardest stages of a given year’s Tour). This means it’s imperative to be a little bit in the know so you can get some good quality accommodation before the rest of your competition hoovers it up. It’s a bit stressful, to be honest, but also a nice little detective game for us to play once the season starts slowing down.
Anyway, I trust you won’t go telling our competitors about this, so I think it’s safe to share some stuff we’ve scrounged up so far.
What is known for sure, like every year, is the first few days of the Tour, which will be in the Vendée department of France, up there in the west, just south of Nantes. The second thing we know is that the Tour is starting a week later this year, so better email your boss and change those vacation dates! The Tour de France 2018 runs from July 7th to the 29th.
From most sources we’ve seen, the route will head north to Brittany, with a possible stretch on the Tro Bro Leon dirt, which might be fun to watch. It appears that the peloton will then be lobbed over the top of Paris after Brittany, with a stage finish in Amiens, then either keep going to Verdun or – and I think we all hope this is the case – rumble up the pavé to Roubaix! It’s the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of WWI next year, so there should be something up there to commemorate it, I’d think.
We are now near the first rest day and no mountains to speak of at all, which always sounds horrible, but also always seems to end up being full of action. We’ll see.
The rest day is going to be in Aix-les-Bains, from what we can gather, then it’s into the Alps for only a couple of days, with Alpe d’Huez being on the schedule at least once. One rumor has it that it’ll be a stage finish one day and a time trial the next. Another suggests a different ascent from the usual ’21 bends’. We treat these with a little scepticism.
After descending from the Alps the route will cross France through our local mountains – the Massif Central, with Mende and Millau as potential host towns. From there it’s Narbonne, on the Mediterranean coast, which is as nice a place as any for the 2nd rest day. Then into the Pyrenees for 3 days, where 44|5 really hopes the Etape du Tour will end up being (the last time was in 2014 and you can read the horror story here – I’m still recovering from that one). We are now somewhere around July 24, 25, 26.
After the Pyrenees it’s a couple of flat stages in the southwest then back up to Paris. If you’d like to get more info, the still-best source of Tour de France rumors is Thomas, over at VeloWire, although more and more pop up every year. If you have any good leads on the Etape du Tour, email me directly and I’ll pay handsomely in bars, gels, and 44|5 stickers – pretty much all we have to offer!