After Fleurance (1977, 1979), Nice (1981), San Sebastian (1992), Monaco (2009) and Porto-Vecchio (2013), the Tour de France will start from the south for the 7th time as it returns to Nice.
The first two stages of the 107th edition will consist in two opposite challenges with a course designed for the sprinters as an opener and a climbing festival the next day which should suit the best climbers of the peloton.
The starts from the South of France are among the options offering unusual prospects and scenarios. By hosting the Grand Depart of the 2020 Tour de France, Nice is writing a new chapter of its long history with cycling, which started in 1906 with a first visit by the Tour. For the 100th edition, the town was also asked to provide a superb gateway onto the continent when the peloton reached the mainland from Corsica. Almost 40 years ago, the 1981 edition also started from Nice, where Bernard Hinault made another show of strength and class. The prefecture of the Alpes Maritimes department is also an annual fixture of the cycling calendar with the Race to the Sun, often providing nail-biting finales.
The first stages of the 107th edition should prove just as exciting. While the riders will be forced to raise on their pedals straightaway for the ascent of cote d'Aspremont, the three laps of the circuit designed for the opening stage should normally lead to a bunch sprint on Promenade des Anglais. But the man sporting the yellow jersey the next morning will certainly struggle to retain it given the profile of another Nice-Nice stage this time highlighting the hilly profile of the city's hinterland. On the 190 km of the course, the riders will have to tackle col de la Colmiane, col de Turini and Col d'Eze! A fierce battle of climbers on only the second day of the race...
July 27, 2020. Stage 1 : Nice midlands > Nice, 170 km
The stay in Nice will start by a stage where one will need to stand up on the pedals. Yet and in order to allow a sprinter to possibly capture the first Yellow Jersey, a final 25-kilometre portion was designed leaving the valley of the Var and heading for a final explanation on the Promenade des Anglais. But before that, the riders will have already crossed the finish line twice. Indeed this first stage will be covered on a circuit in a rather unfamiliar format: a 50-km loop to be ridden two times and then a third 70-km one. Such a race will give the spectators an opportunity to see the pack go by all along the day before witnessing the first act of the great battle of the sprinters.
July 28, 2020. Stage 2 : Nice highlands > Nice, 190 km
The Yellow Jersey holder will have all the problems in the world to defend it at the start of the second stage. The odds are actually quite high that the sprinter that will have captured it the previous day, could struggle as soon as the climb up to the Col de la Colmiane which will only be the first difficulty to face on this very mountainous day (close to 3700m of cumulated elevation). Rapidly after that, the riders will have to take on the climb to the Col de Turini and then battle it out to the Col d’Èze. In the final 17-km loop, the hardest part of that climb, up to the Col des Quatre Chemins, will once again be on the menu. There will then only be a few kilometres of downhill left before reaching the finish… where the first losers will already be noticed!
A rich and beautiful history… It was indeed in 1906, during the 4th edition that the Tour visited Nice for the first time. René Pottier would become the inaugural winner at the end of a 345-km stage starting in Grenoble. In 2020, the capital of the Cote d'Azur will welcome La Grande Boucle for the 37th time and a second Grand Départ after the one of 1981.
1906 - René Pottier, both winner of the Tour and of the first stage finishing in Nice.
1950 - A double as well for Ferdi Kübler, stage success in Nice and overall victory in Paris.
1975 - It was after starting a stage in Nice that Bernard Thévenet would manage to dominate Eddy Merckx on the climbs towards Pra-Loup and would then win the first of his two Tours.
1981 - Bernard Hinault, current World Champion at the time, captured the prologue. He was on his way to the third of his five Tour de France victories.
1981 - Freddy Maertens wins the bunched sprint on the occasion of the first half-stage on the Promenade des Anglais.
2013 - After a spectacular team time-trial, Australian squad Orica-GreenEDGE proved to be the best.
Capital of the Côte d’Azur, 5th biggest city of France with 350 000 inhabitants, 2nd touristic destination of the country with over 5-million visitors every year and 2nd airport of France with over 13-million passengers every year, Nice has a unique setting and a fantastic climate, combining all the advantages that has nowadays made it an exceptional land of sports and a key location for the greatest international cultural and sporting events.
Actively turned towards the future and connected to the environmental issues, Nice has committed for several years now to a real economical mutation with the ambition to become a reference territory in the domain of smart and sustainable cities, betting on sectors based on innovation, digital and eco-industries. Through the development of major infrastructure projects such as the Allianz Riviera stadium, the Promenade du Paillon, the east-west tramway line, the creation of the Centre Européen des Entreprises et d’Innovation (European Centre for Companies and Innovation) or the implementation of the Eco-Valley, the Nice Metropolis has entered a new phase in economical, social and urban development. A true and efficient research laboratory turned towards sustainable development, the Eco-Valley has the ambition of gathering together an academic and research cluster as well as a tertiary centre with an international dimension.
As a result to that, today Nice has become one of the most advanced “smart cities” in the world, accomplishing all the initiatives taken these last ten years to improve the quality of air, the management of waste, predictive maintenance, energy consumption and of course traffic. An eco-friendly city where gentle mobility has found its place thanks to the implementation of an ambitious cycling plan. This year in Nice, with the arrival of a new tramway line, the bus lanes will be indeed transformed into cycling paths. These amenities will reach 420kms throughout the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis at the horizon of 2020.
DATES TO REMEMBER
Wednesday 24th of June: opening of the race headquarters and press center at the Palais des Congrès et des Expositions Nice Acropolis.
Thursday 25th of June: presentation of the teams of the 2020 Tour de France at Place Masséna.
Saturday 27th of June: Stage 1 Nice Moyen Pays > Nice
Sunday 28th of June: Stage 2 Nice Haut Pays > Nice
By plane: Nice-Côte d’Azur international airport (over 100 direct flights throughout the World thanks to over 50 regular airline companies).
By train: several daily trips from Paris by TGV. Average time of travel: 6 hours.
By road: 940 kms from Paris by highways A6 and A7.
Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France.
Those in love with the Tour are both romantics and aesthetes. They are naturally strongly attached to territories that remind them historical moments while their gaze is both enthused by the beauty of sites and at the same time by the subtleties of terrain in the landscape that normally only riders worry about. It is all these feelings that tend to seize us when we start thinking about the Promenade des Anglais, emblem of the city of Nice that will become the heart of the 107th edition of the Tour de France on the occasion of its Grand Départ. The most recent memories take us back to the 100th Tour de France just after the peloton had finalised the very first journey through Corsica in the history of the race. Nice, indeed had then been appointed as the most magnificent doorway to the “continent”. Pursuing the voyage through time further back, one will remember with emotion the “coup de force” of Bernard Hinault back in 1981 when he became the last World Champion to swap his rainbow jersey for the very first Maillot Jaune of a Tour he would go on to win.
Mentioning those chapters of cycling’s history, as well as those that were written by the actors of Paris-Nice goes without saying: the fabulous geography where Nice is situated is ideal for sensational cycling races. We’re ready to place a bet that on the Baie des Anges the riders of the 2020 Tour will give spectators and TV viewers a battle at the height of the azure surrounding that will welcome them. The start of the Tour de France was only staged six times in the south of France… a configuration allowing to immediately place the riders in front of the challenge of mountains. It is that unusual program that they will have to take on with a festival of climbing on the menu after a first stage made for sprinters. Perfect to write a new chapter in the legend of the Tour that the greatest cycling writers have so beautifully described, including Nice writer Louis Nucera.
Christian Estrosi, Mayor of Nice, President of the Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolis, Vice President of the Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.
A great land of cycling will, for the second time, after 1981, welcome the Grand Départ du Tour de France. An opportunity to show as soon as the early days of the race that Nice and its magnificent territory have what it takes to offer a fine and beautiful introduction. To draw attention is our objective. Remind that our mediterranean coastline, that our high lands and our mountainous territory are, gathered together, a playground for cycling like no other. And it’s therefore not a surprise if some of the best riders of the peloton have made it their place of residence and training all along the year. Also remind that through this ambition, a wide-ranging policy has developed for quite a few years around the practice of cycling, with more than 400kms of cycling lanes that we have been building for the 2020 horizon on the entire Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis.
The program of this Grand Départ will be exceptional and launches a 107th edition like no other. I would like to thank the organisation of the Tour de France, led by its director Christian Prudhomme, that has made the most of what our geography has to offer to the Tour de France at this time of the year. It is based on a common experience through the organisation each year of Paris-Nice but also on a strong history that reminds us of the great moments that the Tour has witnessed in Nice and our entire territory for over a century. From the first stages in 1906 until the fantastic team time-trial of 2013 along our famous Promenade des Anglais. In 2020, everything will be gathered so that the Grand Départ enters the Great History of the Tour de France.