Tour de France 2020, Stage 1: Hills Around Nice and a a Likely Sprint Finish

the Bicycling Staff
·3 mins read
Photo credit: MARCO BERTORELLO/ - Getty Images
Photo credit: MARCO BERTORELLO/ - Getty Images

From Bicycling

Stage 1 - Nice to Nice - 156km - Saturday, August 29

Despite the fact that the entire region was just designated as a COVID-19 “red zone” by the French government, the 2020 Tour de France is set to begin on Saturday, August 29 (we hope!) in Nice, with a stage designed (before COVID) to give spectators lots of opportunities to see the race pass by.

Starting and ending in the heart of the city, Stage 1 (156km) covers three loops through the hills surrounding Nice. The first lap begins with a neutralized ascent of the day’s only categorized climb: the Category 3 Côte de Rimiez (5.8km at 5.1 percent grade). Just past the summit, the race begins in earnest as the riders pass Kilometer 0 (the official start of the stage). Here the road continues to climb for another 8km, which should serve as the perfect launchpad for riders hoping to make it into the first breakaway of the 2020 Tour de France.

Once over the uncategorized summit in Aspremont, the downhill ride to the finish along Nice’s Promenade des Anglais begins. The road is super-technical at first, but things soon open up with long, straight sections taking the riders back down to the coast. After crossing through the finish line on the Promenade, they’ll do another lap of the first loop, with the first King of the Mountains points of the Tour up for grabs when the riders officially summit the Côte de Rimiez.

The third and final loop begins with one more climb of the Côte de Rimiez, but makes a hard right turn after Aspremont for a 28km deviation that takes the race deeper into the foothills of the Maritime Alps. Here they’ll hit the highest point of the stage after an uncategorized climb to Levens, before another technical descent takes them down to rejoin the route of the first two laps, ultimately ending-up down on the Promenade des Anglais for what is expected to be a sprint finish.

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The finish itself is flat, straight, and wide, with 6km along the Promenade between the final corner and finish line. The Promenade runs right along the Mediteranean coast, so wind direction will determine how teams time their lead-outs. This is a short stage and riders will be nervous, which means we can expect to see more than a few crashes—especially once the race hits the Promenade for the last time.

Riders to Watch

The sprinters in this year’s Tour are all well-suited to a stage with so much climbing—and with few chances for sprinters overall, they’ll be extra-motivated to make the most of this opportunity. Look for Quick-Step’s Sam Bennett, Lotto-Soudal’s Caleb Ewan, Groupama-FDJ’s Arnaud Démare, UAE’s Fernando Gaviria, Cofidis’s Eia Viviani, and Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert to be the fastest, with the winner coming from whichever team is best able to get its timing right given the wind direction on the long straight line to the finish.

Riders to Watch

When to Watch

The stage begins at about 8 a.m. EDT, so if you’ve been Tour-starved for the past few months, tune in early. Otherwise, check-in at about 11 a.m. EDT to see the breakaway get caught and the sprinters’ teams fight to win the first yellow jersey of the 2020 Tour de France.

How to Watch

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