Tour de France 2016 route: rider reaction

Chris Froome and rivals excited by balanced but challenging route

The cream of the pro cycling peloton have had their say on the challenging but balanced 2016 Tour de France route unveiled in Paris on Tuesday (October 20).

Nine mountain stages, including detours into Andorra and Switzerland, four summit finishes, and two individual time trials (one rolling, one mountain) have been worked into the route for the race which rolls out from the shadow of Mont-Saint-Michel on Saturday July 2.

Related reading: Tour de France 2016 route revealed

Defending champion Chris Froome is licking his lips at the prospect of a return to Mont Ventoux – scene of his stunning stage victory in 2013 – while rivals Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana are also pleased with the parcours awaiting them in 2016.

And it’s not just the GC men with plenty to ponder either, with 26-time stage winner Mark Cavendish set to be a part of Dimension Data’s Tour squad – and the prospect of a yellow jersey up for grabs on the opening stage.

So what can we expect from next year’s race? Here’s what the pros had to say…

Chris Froome says the 2016 Tour will be won by a ‘complete cyclist’ (pic: ASO)

Chris Froome: “It will take a complete cyclist to win”

“It challenges every aspect of cycling – time trials, mountains, a technical descent,” Team Sky’s defending champion told the BBC.

“It’s such an amazing, special race. I’m still 30 years old and feel I have a lot left in my legs and [the course] suits me better than this year’s Tour.

“The beautiful thing about the Tour de France is that it’s not specifically about one stage – I think it’s going to take a complete cyclist [to win] – but the stage that certainly stands out for me is Mont Ventoux.

“I know how difficult this climb is and how much time can be won or lost.”

Alberto Contador will ride his final Tour de France in 2016 (pic: Sirotti)

Alberto Contador: “Time trials will make the difference”

“Next year’s parcours appears to be very difficult and one has to start in good form because the fifth stage already has a fairly demanding finish,” Tinkoff-Saxo’s two-time former winner said, ahead of what will be his final Tour before retirement.

“The two time trials stand out and are probably the ones that make the difference from the 2015 parcours. Both time trials are tough, the first one not excessively long and I like them both.

“The mountain stages are evenly spread out from start to finish and you will have to manage your forces very well in order not to reach the final stages worn out.

“Overall, it is a parcours that I like, but as it is well known with the Grand Tours, it can turn against you at any moment. Without any doubt, it can be a nice and attractive Tour and I will prepare for it one hundred percent.”

Nairo Quintana is pleased with the 2016 Tour de France route, which he believes suits him (pic: Sirotti)

Nairo Quintana: “Testing parcours reminds me of Vuelta or Giro”

“It’s a good parcours for us,” last year’s runner-up, Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, said. “I think the mountains really suit us, plenty of them on the course with some finishes I know and have shone on in the past, like Mont Ventoux or Morzine.

“Also, from what I could see, the long time trial isn’t completely flat, so it shouldn’t be bad for us.

“Even though we saw last year that the pavé wasn’t a big disadvantage for us last year, not having it in 2016, combined with an ‘easier’ first week, will keep us under full focus, just like in every Tour start, but we’ll tackle it with more confidence.

“More than the Tour, this route reminds me of the Vuelta a España or even the Giro, with hard stages all over the three weeks of racing, but our approach must remain the same: starting off in good condition and keeping or improving it over the course of the race.”

Alejandro Valverde believes the route suits his team-mate Nairo Quintana (pic: Sirotti)

Alejandro Valverde: “Open route well-suited to Quintana”

Third last year, but set to focus on the Olympic Games this time out, Quintana’s team-mate Alejandro Valverde said: “I think it’s a more open route than last year’s, and undoubtedly beautiful and interesting.

“Stages seem to be longer -seven or eight of them above 200 kilometers-, which should make efforts harder at the end of the race, and mountains are distributed differently.

“The Pyrenees and Andorra climbs will bring some suffering before the first rest day, and together with the Mont Ventoux, I think they might set things really straight early into the race.

“However, with those two demanding TTs and the restless final week, it can really suit the whole team and Nairo well.”

The first mountain stage of this year’s Tour takes place on Romain Bardet’s home roads (pic: ASO)

Romain Bardet: “Home advantage”

“It appears to be a unique route,” said Ag2r-La Mondiale’s Romain Bardet. “We are not stuck in the routine of the last Tour routes. Mountain stages will have a major impact this year.

“The first mountain test is coming as early as stage five, which is close to my home. The roads in the department of Cantal are my training roads, I love to ride there.

“The tour will begin in a spectacular backdrop and the rider will remember, for a long time, this splendid province. That is why I appreciate the 2016 Tour route.”

Team-mate Alexis Vuillermoz added: “The tour will takes in the Jura, which is my home region. I know the roads as well as the people around there. I can assure you it will be a substantial moment of the Tour de France.”

Thibaut Pinot is happier with the 2016 course than the route used in 2015 (pic: Sirotti)

Thibaut Pinot: “Beautiful course could be favourable to Quintana”

FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot, who pulled on the white jersey in 2014, is also backing Movistar’s Nairo Quintana to shine, telling l’Equipe: “It is a beautiful course. The first mountain comes after five days [and] it changes a lot of things and it suits me.

“The first week should be less complicated than this year. Both time trials please me as well, although I am not sure that we should expect large differences between the leaders in the race against the clock along the coast.

“The mountain stages are staggered, that’s interesting. In general, I find that the course tends to favour small riders.

“Next year’s itinerary should be more favourable to Quintana than this year’s route.”

Mark Cavendish anticipates a lot of suffering on the non-sprint days (pic: ASO)

Mark Cavendish: “More sprint chances but more suffering too”

Mark Cavendish will ride for Dimension Data in 2016, and thinks of the route: “It’s a hard Tour de France. It gets harder and harder but that’s bike racing.

“It lends more sprint opportunities than 2015 but then the other days there’s going to be a grupetto forming pretty early on and suffering.

“Even the time trials – normally you can try and ride as close to the time limit as possible and ease back a bit but these time trials don’t lend themselves to doing that.

“Talking from a pure sprinter’s perspective, it’s going to be a difficult three weeks.”

Andre Greipel will vie for the yellow jersey on stage one with the likes of Mark Cavendish (pic: ASO)

Andre Greipel: “I really look forward to shot at yellow jersey”

Andre Greipel won four stages for Lotto-Soudal in 2015, and said of next year’s route: “Just like the Grand Depart in Corsica (2013) and Yorkshire (2014), we start with a flat stage which is the ideal chance for sprinters to take the yellow jersey. It is a unique chance and a goal on its own.”

“I really look forward to that and also to the remainder of the first week where there are a few sprint opportunities.

“Hopefully we get five bunch sprints, but that depends on how the race evolves. Not every stage that is suitable for a sprint finish, ends in a bunch sprint. For example, the wind could play a role already in the first stage.

“What draws my attention as a non-climber, are the four stages where we start the day with a climb. On such days, it’s a matter of suffering and trying to finish within the time limit. As a sprinter, I’m not looking forward to these days.”

Robert Gesink is anticipating a tough three weeks (pic: Sirotti)

Robert Gesink: “It looks tough at first glance”

LottoNL-Jumbo’s Robert Gesink concluded: “At first glance, it looks like a tough Tour.

“The mountain time trial [17km] is always hard, but do not underestimate the individual time trial of 37 kilometres.

“Also, maybe the descents will play a decisive role, like in the stage over the Joux Plane to Morzine.

“First, though, I’m going to sit quietly and study the route.”

Trek Factory Racing DS Alain Gallopin believes the race is suited to his rider, Bauke Mollema (pic: Sirotti)

Alain Gallopin: “Nice variation, but another tough final week”

Trek Factory Racing’s sport director Alain Gallopin said: “There is no prologue and on the second day already there is a small uphill finish, it’s nice.

“I think it’s good to change things and not do the same thing every year, and give a chance to all the different riders.

“I think it’s good for Bauke Mollema because there is no pavé and although last year he was okay there – though he did lose time in the windy stage – he is a climber and this route suits these skills.

“I think stage 20 when we do Col de la Ramaz and Col de Joux Plane in the same day is really hard and could be the most difficult day. Col de la Ramaz is already hard and we know about Joux Plane and how hard it is, so this stage with the finish in Morzine will be tough – a really, really hard stage.”

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