The route of the Tour de France seems to have hit the airwaves officially today and there is a LOT to cover. Since things are moving rapidly, I will toss out what for me stand out as the highlights
Stage 1: Wait, we are in Italy? For the TOUR?!
I have long surmised, based on nothing more than a list of old Tour routes, that they wanted nothing to do with Italian anything if they could help it. Maybe it was a petty rivalry with the Giro d’Italia, or not so much petty as simply practical — the world doesn’t need a French Giro when it already has a (usually spectacular) Italian one? That’s the generous reading. The likelier scenario is that Henri Desgranges is rolling over in his grave. Anyway, now we will know what it’s like for Canadian fans to watch hockey games played in Arizona.
[Side note: Rimini? Is the Tour currying favor with its temporary hosts by doing a Pantani tribute stage? Was this negotiated into the deal for the Grand Départ? Sigh…]
Stage 2: It’s the Giro dell’Emilia Tribute Stage!!!
There’s an old Simpson’s bit where Homer responds to one of his kids feeling ignored by society with “I’m between the ages of 18 and 45, everyone listens to me!” and he pulls out a product called “nuts and gum: together at last!” This is pretty much how I feel right now. The Giro dell’Emilia and the Tour de France. Together at last.
Stage 4: It’s the 1949 Giro Tribute Stage!!!
OK, now they are just trolling me. The stage starts in Pinerolo, finishing point of the famous stage 17 of the 1949 Giro where Coppi went on his solo ride for the ages, and reverses that course over Sestriere and Montgenèvre, before breaking off for a “fuck it, we’re just riding the Galibier” monster stage, before the riders have had time to get used to being back on French soil. I guess they could have stuck with the bit longer and done the Izoard and Vars climbs (Vars shows up in week 3), but you won’t hear me complaining. I will be too busy yelling at everyone to buy Dino Buzzati’s books.
Stage 9: Gravel Is Everything Now
If you weren’t sure that this was the least traditional Tour ever, well… we will get to that more in a bit. But this is another brick in that wall.