Mark Cavendish stood in awe as the 2024 Tour de France route was unveiled in Paris on Wednesday, leaving the seasoned sprinter slightly shocked by ASO’s presentation.
More time trials…and gravel
The 2024 Tour de France features a total of four mountain summit finishes, two time trials, a gravel stage, and eight flat stages for sprinters or breakaways. There are more time trials than the 2023 version and a notable addition is the gravel section featured on Stage 9. The race begins in Florence, Italy on Saturday, June 29, and culminates three weeks later in Southern France, concluding in Nice on Sunday, July 21, with a tough time trial. Due to the Paris Olympics happening at the same time, the traditional Champs-Élysées stage won’t be happening.
Very difficult route
“It’s so hard, it is so hard. I am actually in a bit of shock! It is so hard. There’s a few sprint opportunities, but you’ve got to get to them. That’s the problem you know,” Cav said to GCN after the presentation. “The start in Italy is super nice. Tt is right by my home for many years. It is only a few kilometres away, so I know the first kilometres really well, but it makes no difference because it starts hard, finishes hard and is all hard. It will be beautiful in Italy. The Giro is always an incredible race and I know the Tuscan people just love cycling. It is really quite special.”
The stage record
Cavendish, who is tied with the great Eddy Merckx for stage wins at 34, had hoped to break the record at the 2023 TdF. However, that dream died when he crashed and was forced to withdraw due to injury. It was meant to be his last year of racing, and was set to hang up the cleats at the end of 2023. In October, his Astana-Qazaqstan team announced he was un-retiring, and will be back for one more year. Michael Mørkøv, the Danish leadout specialist, was also hired to help give the Brit some help in the finales.
Is Torino the one?
In terms of what stages might suit him, he has some ideas. “I think Torino should offer the chance for sprinters. It is a difficult Tour de France, you know, it could be more comfortable,” he explained.