Start of 2025 Tour de France to pit favourites 'shoulder to shoulder'

cycling30 November 2023 15:00| © AFP
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Tour de France organisers unveiled the first three stages of the 2025 edition on Thursday with race director Christian Prudhomme saying it was tailor-made for the sprinters.

After hilly stages in 2020, 2021, 2023 and next year in 2024, as well as a prologue in 2022, "this will be the first time in half a dozen years that a sprinter will be able to take the first yellow jersey", said Prudhomme.

He also expects to see "the Tour de France favourites shoulder to shoulder from the first weekend".

"We'll obviously have some champions up front," he added.

The northern city of Lille, which hosted the opening stage in 1960 and 1994, will get the race going on 5 July, 2025, with a 185km loop around the city.

It has three listed climbs but avoids the tricky cobbles of the Paris-Roubaix and a flat final 50km will suit the sprinters.

But whoever triumphs in Lille will be in serious danger of losing their leader's jersey the following day between Lauwin-Planque and Boulogne-sur-Mer.

The 209km ride, with two climbs in the final 10km, should benefit the puncheurs.

The third stage, 172km between Valenciennes and Dunkirk, should once again see the best sprinters in the field go head-to-head.

There is just one uphill difficulty on the programme, the climb to Cassel, which runs for 2.3km at 3.8 per cent and should not be overly distressing, even for the sprinters.

The bigger problem is likely to be the wind especially with the finish by the sea.

"The direction of the wind will decide the scenario: either the peloton will split into several groups, or we'll be heading for a bunch sprint," said race organisers ASO.

The fourth stage will set off from Amiens, in the Somme, for a destination yet to be revealed.

Next year's race will take off from Florence, Italy and for the first time it will end in Nice and not Paris, due to the Olympic Games taking place in the French capital.