Following the World Famous Tour de France
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It is the most famous cycling race in the world and millions of fans spend most of July every year tracking the riders as they make their way through the stages. We are talking about the Tour de France, of course. It is one of the main grand tours of the sport and the winners have gone down in history as the most talented – and spirited – cyclists of all time.
Although you should be able to find excellent coverage of the tour wherever you may be, there are some fans that take their devotion a little bit further. If you do watch the stages on TV you will see thousands of fellow cyclists and supporters lining the route, waiting for the short burst of time that they actually see their heroes speed by. Some will follow the tour around France, cheering on those battling for the yellow jersey.
The mixture of European travel and adventure is something that really attracts us, so we thought we would take a look at some of the places to visit along the route. The 2023 event is almost over but planning a trip of our own for the 2024 Tour de France seems like a very good idea.
The Grand Départ
If you have started reading this Tour de France travel guide with the hope of a French adventure, you may be a little disappointed with this first stage. The Grand Départ is when the Tour de France begins, but in recent years it has been something of a tradition to start outside of the country.
Copenhagen in Denmark was the opening city in 2022 and Bilbao in Spain saw the riders off this year. Next year it will be the turn of Florence in Italy. The Giro d’Italia is one of the other grand tours of cycling but the 2024 Tour de France will take this most prestigious of cycling races into Italy.
Florence is the starting point and the riders will head east, enduring 3,700 meters of mountain climbing before finishing in the coastal town of Rimini. For anyone wanting to grab a vantage point along the way, the Tuscan hills and the entire Emilia-Romagna region will provide a stunning backdrop. There will even be a brief sojourn into San Marino if you are looking to strike another country off of your list.
After 205km of grueling mountain cycling, mere mortals would probably not be able to raise themselves out of their beds. But the Tour de France competitors are famously made of sterner stuff and will have another 200km to cycle the next day. The Tour remains in Italy at this point and day two begins near the railway station in Cesenatico.
Cycling fans may recognize this seaside resort as the hometown – and final resting place – of Marco Patani, considered one of the greatest climbing specialists in the sport. He won the Tour de France in 1998 and it is a nod to one of the greats of the sport that the 2024 tour will visit here. Visitors can enjoy the delights of the Adriatic coastline, or line the route that takes stage 2 all the way to Bologna.
It will be another day of climbing for the riders, so that means some incredible vantage points for supporters along the route. Bologna will welcome the riders at the end of the day and this historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region offers a heady mix of old and new, alongside incredible food and drink options, of course.
The Need for Speed
After two days of mountain climbing gnawing away at the muscles of the riders, day three is strictly for the sprinters. Starting off in Piacenza, on the bank of the River Po, a 225km high-speed race to Turin will be as exhilarating as it is scenic. The sprint finish coming into the capital of Piedmont will be an experience like no other, although it will be familiar to anyone who regularly watches the Giro d’Italia.
This is the biggest city on the tour up until this point and is a major international hub for travelers, so there is bound to be a lot of interest. Fans of city escapes may well want to catch the exciting climax of the stage, but any location along the route will also provide a stunning setting.
The rest of the 2024 Tour de France route is still currently under wraps so we wouldn’t want to point you in the direction of a destination that won’t actually see any cycling action. The Pyrenees and the Alps usually play a role in the tour, so those regions could be worth checking out for some intrepid travels. But there is one other city getting ready for a stage that we do know about.
Usually, a finish in Paris is guaranteed with the Tour de France, so cycling fans can also take in the world-famous city of love while they cheer on the peloton. But 2024 is also the year that Paris is hosting the Olympic Games, so there will be no dramatic Champs-Élysées finish this time around. The action will take place almost 1,000km south on the French Riviera. Or more precisely, Nice.
The final two stages’ routes are already known and will be perfect for anyone wanting to check out the glamor of the south of France. The penultimate stage starts off in Nice and heads north through the hills to the Col de la Couillole mountain pass. The 21st and final stage will be another sprint of just 35km from the glamorous streets of Monaco to the Place Masséna in Nice. It may not be a Parisian adventure but Nice is hardly a down-market finish for any visitor lucky enough to be in attendance.
As more stages are announced, anyone wanting to enjoy a Tour de France adventure will be able to make their own travel plans. It should be noted that if you are thinking of hiring a bike to enjoy the tour, you should plan ahead – they sell out quickly. But however you enjoy the Tour de France, it will be a unique adventure that you will never forget.
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