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“I think it’s good for Bauke 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. It’s also a good Tour...

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BAUKE MOLLEMA

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21.10.2015 @ 11:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The complete route of the 2016 Tour de France was unveiled at the Palais des Congrès de Paris convention center in Paris on Tuesday and the 103rd edition of the Grand Boucle disclosed some significant changes from last year.

 

Gone are the cobblestones and team time trial and added are two individual races against the clock, placed in the latter part of the race (S13 and S18) where they will have a more decisive role. Once again the Tour de France organization ASO has chosen to stray from the traditional prologue start and the race will kick off with a 188-kilometer road stage in Normandy, allowing the pure sprinters a chance at the coveted yellow jersey.

 

Trek Factory Racing’s sport director Alain Gallopin was on hand as the new itinerary was revealed publicly and TFR.com reached him by phone to find out his thoughts about the 2016 parcours.

 

“Like I say every year,” Gallopin pointed out immediately, “The Tour de France is the Tour de France and whatever the road we have a strong rider to contest the race. It’s still, like last year, for the climbers, and maybe even more since we don’t have the cobblestone stage anymore. With the wind it could be a little dangerous – I need to check this more – but it will not be like last year in the first road stage.”

 

“But again at the end it’s really for the climbers, a guy like Quintana [Movistar] will be a big favorite. Also, because of the two TT’s: one is climbing, and the other is also not flat because I know this area and its always up and down. But the main thing there’s a lot of mountains.”

In its three weeks, the Tour will visit Switzerland, Spain, and Andorra and encompass nine flat stages, two individual time trials, one medium mountain stage and nine full mountain stages with four mountain finishes. Similar to 2015 the final week is jammed full of hills and will again be the deciding week.

 

“This is more or less the same as last year with again the last week very difficult and good for breakaways, but only for the climbing specialists,” said Gallopin. “We will need to go with climbers again. The only complaint I have is that they should put in some flat stages in the last week. Last year there was none and what we saw was then the riders who are not so good in the climbs have nothing to do in the last week – even if there was a breakaway they had no chance.”

 

Last year Bauke Mollema led the team and finished seventh overall, no easy feat in a highly competitive race that saw Nairo Quintana battle back in the final week, but Chris Froome (Sky) hold on to take the victory. It will be expected that Mollema will lead the team again in 2016, and the new route, at least on paper, appears to favor the Dutch climber.

 

“I think it’s good for Bauke 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,” continued Gallopin, then laughed, “It’s also a good Tour for me!”

 

Alain Gallopin is no stranger to the Tour de France, arguably the team director with the most experience and knowledge in the biggest race in the world and all in his immense ‘backyard’.  Overall, he had a favorable opinion of the route, and offered what he thought would be the hardest stage of 2016:

 

“There is no prologue and on the second day already there is a small uphill finish, it’s nice,” he said. “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 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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