The complete official Le Tour de France 2019 route announcement is set to be revealed next month on October 25th. Hype and excitement is building by the day, as predictions are in full swing and rumours continue to spread.
Following the confirmation of the big Grand Depart from Brussels, Belgium we can only assume that great things are in store for next year.
Here, we had a chat with Mummu Cycling founder and CEO, Marcel Berger regarding his thoughts on the current Tour de France 2019 speculations...
"October is the best part of the year for us at Mummu Cycling. You’d think that we love April for the Classics, or July for the Tour, or September for La Vuelta and the World Champs, but October is when we get to ride the wave of excitement of the Tour de France rumour mill. This is the month we get to create experiences, help realise lifelong dreams and navigate around the logistical maze of the world’s biggest annual sporting event to launch our Tour de France tours,” said Marcel.
“In 2018, we designed what I believe was our greatest collection of tours. Our clients were able to see areas of the event that they never thought possible, spend hours with pro teams chatting about tactics and building relationships, ride sections of the course only minutes before the race and of course enjoy amazing food and company.
We are all excited to go one better in 2019 with what is looking like an unpredictable, exciting and of course challenging route designed by the ASO."
Firstly, what are your thoughts on a Grand Depart ‘abroad’ in the cycling-mad Brussels, Belgium - the home of ultimate legend Eddy Merckx and the 50th year since his first Tour de France victory in 1969?
There is nowhere on the planet where cycling is more loved than in Belgium. Cycling runs through the blood of all Belgians and the fans will definitely create an atmosphere not to be missed in July.
The organisers have created two opening stages which will offer exciting racing and a chance for the Spring Classics riders to hold yellow in the race. Watch out for the likes of Peter Sagan and Philippe Gilbert on the Mur de Grammont at km 43 of Stage 1. Add in the Stage 2 Team Time Trial and we are in for a cycling treat over these first stages.
Our team have done a heap of work to secure a brilliant 5-Star hotel right in the heart of Brussels and only meters from the action.
Pyrenees before Alps? How does this change the race dynamic year after year? The Alps are certainly more famous, talked about climbs in the cycling world, but as we saw in 2018 - the Pyrenean climbs are certainly no breeze!
Everyone seems to love the Alps but personally I prefer the Pyrenees. The climbs are stunning, scenery beautiful and as 2018 showed, racing can be brilliant through the range bordering France and Spain.
It is looking like 2019 may buck the trend of alternating Alps and Pyrenees in the Tour de France route. We have on good authority that the Tourmalet will make a comeback in 2019 which I know our guests are looking forward to riding.
We may also have a rest day in Toulouse which would be really cool as Stuey lived there during his early career and I know is excited to show our guests around his former home, especially some of the restaurants which are still standing.
The race could possibly visit Andorra where the recent La Vuelta just held two gruelling mountain stages. Last visited by Le Tour de France in 2016 and one of cycling’s best kept secrets, providing some stunning back drops and incredible climbs. Many professional cyclists are now based in the mountainous country, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. If predictions are set to go ahead, it will no doubt provide some serious heat in the earlier stages of the Tour. Thoughts?
We went to Andorra in 2016 with the Tour de France and the small country is a cycling Mecca. I don’t think there is a stretch of more than 20km of flat roads and if the Tour de France returns again, I am sure that the likes of Thomas, Froome, Yates and Bardet will all be licking their lips at the prospect of racing on the steep slopes of the Coll de la Rabassa or Port d’Envalira.
What makes Andorra even more special is it’s remoteness…the roads are quieter than in the Alps and French Pyrenees, meaning fans can get closer than ever to the riders. I remember in 2016 we had a picnic on the ascent of Coll de la Rabassa handing cans of soft drink out to the Grupetto as they struggled up the climb.
The route will supposedly travel towards the infamous Mont Ventoux. Reaching up to 1909m and famously known in TdF history as being drama-filled! Most recently, in 2016 when Chris Froome wearing Yellow, was knocked down by a motor bike in the final stages of the climb, leaving him few options but to run his bike up to the summit to finish the stage. Or date back to 1967 when British cyclist Tom Simpson collapsed and died up the brutal ascent…
What are your thoughts on the likely return of Mont Ventoux to the 2019 TdF?
If Ventoux returns, particularly as a stage finish, it will make for an incredible Tour de France in 2019. I am not sure if both Tourmalet and Ventoux will return in the same year, but the ASO have been unpredictable in recent years.
There will be the possible inclusion of a brutal Planche des Belles Filles gravel summit finish peaking at up to 24%!
French media outlet 'France Bleu' suggested that 2019’s race could visit the the brutal climb having investigated a tweet from race general commissioner Stephane Boury. Boury posted a photo from a mystery location that was soon discovered to be on the Planche des Belles Filles: 'Here will be considered a new finish for the TDF 2019... passing 24%... there will be some show.'
We know from this year’s new, brutal ‘65km’ stage, that the organisers are forever seeking ‘exciting’ challenges for the race. This could well provide just that and more?
The Grand Tours are all including more exciting stages and to be honest - more gravel. It’s like we are going back in time to the early years of the Tour de France when almost all roads were gravel.
We are predicting a stage finish on Stage 6 which is quite early in the race and will bring the GC contenders into action, hopefully making the race more exciting.
In the closing week the Tour will likely spend several days in the Haute-Alps and include the likes of the epic Mont Blanc. If predictions are correct - the TdF could be in for a real final week showdown?
There is no better way to finish the Tour de France than in the Alps. It creates so much excitement, extraordinary racing, cauldrons of fans and an experience you just can’t beat.
Mont Blanc hasn’t been in the Tour de France since 2016 when French favourite Romain Bardet won on a solo attack to the famous summit. The ASO do want a French winner and they would love Bardet to win atop Mont Blanc wearing yellow, so I wouldn’t be surprised.
Following a highly successful Tour de France for Mummu Cycling this year - what are you most looking forward to on Tour in 2019?
The bookends excite me most about the 2019 Tour de France. A lot of our Tour de France clients will never get to experience the atmosphere of cycling in Belgium, but this year we will be in the heart of the action in Brussels with Australia’s Classics and Tour de France champion, Stuart O’Grady.
Then nothing beats the final week in the Alps. This will be incredible and hopefully we can include monuments like Ventoux and Mont Blanc.