As every single summer, rumours about the next Tour de France‘s route begin to be heard. After a pretty intense edition though the three weeks of competition, the stages for the next one are already on their way to be designed, with its organizers preparing the menu that will be all on the record for the next October, as its tradition. Still many stones to unturn, many doors to be knocked, many pieces to be placed in this complex puzzle called Tour 2024. But one is clear and it is the return of Col de la Bonette, the highest mountain ever climbed in the history of the three Grand Tours, higher than 2,800 meters above sea level.
This very mountain road connecting the towns of Saint Étienne de Tinée and Jausiers has been climbed for the last time in 2008, year that saw Spaniard Carlos Sastre winning with such a memorable attack on the bottom of Alpe d’Huez. The bunch arrived the summit from the south, all opposite to what will happen this time, suppose to climb this huge monster from the north. Fifteen years before, 1993, the peloton finished atop Isola 2000 ski resort ascent. The rumours for 2024’s route say the stage will include the previous and classic Col de Vars, plus the already mentioned Bonette climb right before the final col, some kilometers away from Italy, really present country in Tour 2024.
The depart of the stage will be located in Embrun this time, a classic start for several mountain stages in the last decades. The riders must face more than 4,000 elevation meters in a stage slightly over 140 kilometers, one of the queen stages. The map will start in Florence (Italy) and will return to France through Sestrieres, Montgenevre and Briançon, the highest city in Europe and an alpine reference for the world of cycling. It will be the northest destinantion in the Alps, although it does not seem that this will be one of the toughest stages of those to be presented in October.
Neither Alpe d’Huez, nor Galibier, nor any other famous alpine mountain further than Bonette to be included this time. 2024 is the year of the Alpes-Maritimes, taking advantage of the end of the road in Nice, the first time the Tour de France would not be finished in Paris. It does not mean that the surroundings of the French capital are left out. The cobble sections enter the rumors, quite late for the heights of the race at which it is usually included. There will be Pyrenees, of course, with the finale confirmed at Plateau de Beille, another happy return after nine long years of silence. It is intuited that this massif will see its presence diminished. Alps will again be decisive.
Around the stage that will include La Bonette, relevant and tough stages will be held. On the one hand, a stage arriving in Barcelonnette is rumored. Logic would lead us to think that some of the colossi that surround this mountain village would be included. The finish in Superdevoluy, near Gap and already used by Dauphiné, would precede them. Hard stages with low distances to be ridden and, above all, very short travel distance between end and start. It is one of the fundamental volunties for the next edition, in commitment to the environment and to the rest of the riders.
The last two stages are known, with a very hard day in the high mountains on the way to the Col de la Couillole, which would take place the day after the rumoured Isola 2000 stage. The last, as it is already public, will be a time trial between Monaco and Nice, presumably the only one on the Tour, given the result of the 2023 edition. A very tough and decisive last week that will have an impact on a slightly softer first two, although there will be elements to test the favorites to get the yellow jersey. The formula will not vary too much, so no one expects surprises in that regard.
Written by Jorge Matesanz