Tour de France Preview
The Grand Tour season is now in full swing – with the Giro done and dusted, the Tour de France is up next. Our TdF preview takes a closer look at the Israel Start-Up Nation team, their bikes and route highlights over the 21 days of racing.
Photos by Bettini / Gruber Images
Multi Grand Tour Stage winner, Mike Woods, has proven his impeccable climbing strength, winning capabilities and leadership stance since his arrival to the team this year, locking in a string of credible performances throughout the opening half of the season, including stellar results in the Ardennes Classics, a stage victory and top five overall at the Tour de Romandie and at the recent Tour de Suisse
Woods’ success has only strengthened the team’s confidence in him, who confirmed that he will be leading the squad at this year’s Tour de France. Their key goal will be to support Woods to target Stage victories and to perform highly in the General Classification.
I am looking forward to taking on the GC role in the team. I love racing GC. It’s really challenging and doing it on Tour is more challenging, more intense, and much more stressful. But the way I am riding these days, I am up to the challenge. And with the team that we have, we will be a force to be reckoned with.”
Woods will be in good company with the support of highly experienced, four time former champion of the race, Chris Froome who will be returning to the Tour following a two year absence battling back from a serious accident at the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2019. Returning to the Tour will be a pivotal stepping stone for the seven time Grand Tour champion, who has worked incredibly hard to return to the sports highest level and will continue his journey forward this season with the support of Israel Start-Up Nation.
“I’ve been working tirelessly to get to where I am, and although my ambitions this year won’t be as leader, I hope to add my experience and support to the team as best I can as road captain. We have a strong contender in Michael Woods, and I look forward to giving my all for him and the team in the battle to Paris.”
Froome & Woods will also be joined by the experienced Dan Martin, who comes straight from the Giro d’Italia where he picked up a brilliant win on Stage 17, as well as veteran sprinter André Greipel. The lineup is completed with Omer Goldstein, Reto Hollenstein, Rick Zabel and Guillaume Boivin.
🇨🇦 Mike Woods
🇮🇪 Dan Martin
🇬🇧 Chris Froome
🇮🇱 Omer Goldstein
🇩🇪 André Greipel
🇨🇭 Reto Hollenstein
🇨🇦 Guillaume Boivin
🇩🇪 Rick Zabel
Tour de France Bikes
The eight-man squad will race the Tour de France onboard the OSTRO VAM, O2 VAM and SLiCK, ensuring there’s a bike suited to every stage and terrain faced throughout the 21-day race.
Every Factor bike is highly engineered to deliver exceptional performance, using the most advanced technology available to equip the team for success.
Launched at the 2020 Tour de France, the OSTRO VAM is our ‘everything’ bike; Searingly fast, incredibly light and supremely comfortable – it’s ready to win both sprints and mountain stages.
The OSTRO VAM is perfect for when the race route takes in mixed terrain, as it so often does. They can reach for a ONE on super-fast flat stages and an O2 VAM when the stage profile resembles shark teeth; the OSTRO gives them close to the best of both.
Ultra lightweight performance for the most challenging of mountain stages. Of course, while it was born for the mountains, its power transfer, crisp handling and compliant ride all mean that the O2 VAM will also deliver a fantastic experience in almost any road riding scenario.
The SLiCK is focused on one thing – speed. This highly developed TT bike incorporates everything we understand about aerodynamics, including our unique and wind tunnel-proven Twin Vane Evo downtube and Widestance seatstays.
Tour de France Route Highlights
The 108th edition of the Tour de France will get underway on June 26th in Brest. The three week Grand Tour will cover a demanding route, including six mountain stages (three of which are summit finishes), five hilly stages, eight flat stages and two individual time trials.
The opening four days of action will take place in Brittany, including a number of rolling stages suited to the puncheurs and versatile sprinters, perfectly suited to the Factor OSTRO. Stage 2 includes multiple ascents up the renowned Mûr-de-Bretagne which although short in length, will be the first ‘up-hill’ test of the race.
The race will then venture across to the Mayenne where the first of two Individual Time Trials throughout the tour will take place. The fairly long 27km race against the clock will likely present the first General Classification shake-up and an opportunity for the Time Trial Specialists to claim stage victory.
A fast and furious flatland stage 6 will follow, ensuring the pure sprinters will be primed and ready to rock, followed by the longest stage of the race on day 7. The mountain madness will then well and truly begin on Stage 8 as the race dives right into the depths of the French Alps. The Stage includes the likes of Le Grand Bornard and the Col de la Colombiere, ensuring the battle will be on and moves will be made on the hunt for the Maillot Jaune and precious seconds.
The challenging Alpine stage is backed by another mountainous Stage 9 route, including the return of Tignes, that dramatically caused the shortening of Stage 19 in 2019 due to landslides.
Following the race’s first rest day, it’ll be all on for the sprinters again on Stage 10, before another pivotal GC day on Stage 11. The day will see the special return of Mont Ventoux, not once, but twice via two different sides. The first side from the ‘easier’ Sault side, and the second ascent up the traditional Bédoin side. The same side that Chris Froome so famously ran part of the way up in 2016. Here’s hoping better luck is on his side this time round!
Stage 12 and 13 will travel along fast, flat roads on route to the Pyrenees, providing a much-deserved rest from the hills, and another opportunity for the sprinters to go head-to-head for glory.
Stage 14 will be the first real taste of the Pyrenees mountains for the riders, including three categorised climbs. All eyes and ears, however will be looking ahead to Stage 15 that is sure to be a race-shaping event as the peloton depart France, and head skyward into Andorra and its stunning, yet relentless high-altitude mountains. The stage includes the highest col of the race – the Port d’Envalira at 2408m, finishing off with a swift descent into Andorra that will round out the tour’s middle week.
A chance for the breakaway awaits the race on Stage 16, before hitting the Pyrenees hard on Stage 17 that includes the Col du Peyresourde and the Col de Val Louron-Azet before finishing atop the Col du Portet. Expect fireworks!
If that wasn’t enough to really fire the race up, Stage 18 most certainly will with another arduous mountain day on the menu, including the iconic Col du Tourmalet, backed by the Luz Ardiden – the final climb of the race and with that, the last summit finish.
A sprint stage will follow, before the riders whip their TT bikes back out of hiding for the penultimate 31km Time Trial from Libourne to Saint-Emilion. If 2020 is anything to go by, it’s not over until it’s over and this day could once again prove critical if standings remain close.
The Grand Tour will once again come to a close on the spectacular streets of Paris, where finishing laps and a final sprint opportunity lie on the Champs-Élysées.
Allez Allez Le Tour.
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