The Tour de France is not only the biggest and most widely celebrated bicycle race in the world, but it's also a cultural event for which the whole country is famous. This country-spanning race makes use of the sunny July weather, bringing the entire nation to life for 21 days of nail-biting racing provided by the hard endurance of the athletes involved.
This will be a race of firsts; the first time the Grande Boucle has started in Italy, and the first time the race has finished outside of Paris. Manxman Mark Cavendish has postponed his retirement and is aiming to break Eddy Merckx's longstanding record of 34 stage wins. The race route will wind its way through Italy, San Marino, Monaco and France, starting in Florence before finishing three weeks later in Nice.
Here are a few places to camp to catch the Tour de France, along with route notes and some historical details. The campsite we've chosen might not be directly on the route the cyclists take, but they should provide you with good access to at least one stage of the Tour de France,
Date - Saturday 29th June Route - Florence (IT) > Rimini (IT) Distance - 206km Terrain - Hilly Suits - General Classification / Mountain Classification
With over 3600 meters of climbing, this is a mountainous start to this year's tour. The route takes in the Apennine Mountains, the backbone of Italy, before hitting the Republic of San Marino and finishing on the picturesque Adriatic Coast in Rimini.
No fewer than seven climbs, including the Col de Valico Tre Faggi (12.5km - 5.1%) and the punchy Côte de Barbotto (5.8km - 7.6%), make this a stage where the first Yellow Jersey might be claimed by one of the contenders for the overall title.
Starting from the spa resort of Cesenatico, the former home and final resting place of Marco Pantani, the peloton will enjoy a picturesque ride across the plains of the Po Valley before encountering the ascent to Cima Gallisterna and on towards Imola Motor Racing Circuit. Cycling enthusiasts will recall Julian Alaphilippe's victory at the 2020 UCI World Road Championships, where he secured the coveted rainbow jersey.
Today's real test lies ahead, with four more challenging difficulties awaiting the riders before they reach the finish line. The two punchy ascents to San Luca, each featuring gradients of 10.6%, will undoubtedly be the highlight of the day. Before hitting the finish line, the riders will pass the 666 arches of portico leading up to the Sanctuary of San Luca, at 3.8 kilometres, it's the longest in the world.
Stage 3 provides the sprinters with a chance to flex their muscles on this pan-flat stage. A couple of small climbs, including the Côte de Tortone (1.1km - 6.3%) and Côte de Sommariva Perno (3.1km) provide today's challenges.
Today's route follows some of the roads used in the classic Milan – San Remo, so will be familiar to many riders in the peloton. The course will also pass through the town of Tortone, home of the 2 time Tour de France winner Fausto Coppi.
Date - Tuesday 2nd July Route - Pinerolo (IT) > Valloire (FR) Distance - 138km Terrain - Mountain Suits - General Classification / Mountain Classification
The race departs from Italy after a challenging ascent to the resort of Sestrières at 2,035m (39.9km - 3.7%) the location of Fausto Coppi's triumphant victory in 1952. The riders reach the French border after 71km at 1,860m on the Col de Montgenèvre (8.3km - 5.9%)
Following this, they ascend the Lautaret pass at 2,058m before facing the formidable 2,642m (23km - 5.1%) Col du Galibier, where the Souvenir Henri Desgrange will be awarded. This stage marks the initial chance for the race favourites to challenge themselves in the high mountain terrain. A 19km descent to the finish line in Valloire ends the stage.
The race will briefly leave the mountain of the Alps as it passes through Chambéry. Shortly afterwards, the peloton will pass through La Bridoire, known for hosting the finale of the Classique des Alpes Juniors, a race that typically favours climbers, but this time, they won't have a chance as the route heads towards Saint-Vulbas.
After conquering the minor Côte de l’Huis (2.1km - 5.4%),a challenging 34 kilometres of racing remain. The wide open roads beyond will provide an excellent vantage point to monitor the breakaway riders. Today the victor's bouquet will likely find its way into the hands of a sprinter.
Racing will likely be a frantic affair from kilometre zero in Mâcon as riders struggle to form part of the breakaway group. They will embark on their journey with the hope of maintaining their lead through the picturesque vineyards of the Côte Chalonnaise. However, the sprinters and their lead-out men are anticipated to assert dominance on the final 800-meter straight into the heart of Dijon in the Côte-d’Or prefecture.
This is a classic transitional stage where enthusiasts of medieval architecture will delight in aerial views of Cluny Abbey and other historical treasures.
The initial two-thirds of this stage presents a challenging landscape with five modest climbs. The continuous elevation changes can prove taxing on the riders' legs just as the sprinters' teammates contemplate preparations for a mass finish.
However, the last three kilometres of the concluding straight, characterised by a gradual but consistent ascent, might be the perfect opportunity to reunite the peloton, giving the lead-out trains and their sprinters a chance to shine.
The Tour de France's first week concludes with an exciting addition: the introduction of white roads, a characteristic already synonymous with renowned races like Strade Bianche and Paris-Tours. In 2022, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift blazed a trail across the gravel roads of Champagne near Troyes.
This stage will encompass 14 distinct sectors, with six of them situated in the latter portion of the route, amounting to a total of 32 kilometres. Each of these sectors will challenge the riders as they jostle for position before transitioning onto the gravel surface, enveloped in the swirling dust of the peloton; a puncture here could be costly.
The route also includes four punchy uncategorised climbs over the Côte des Bergères (1.7km - 5.2%), Côte de Baroville (2.8km - 4.8%), Côte de Val Frion (2.2km - 5%) and the Côte de Chacenay (3km - 4.3%)
As the stage traverses Sologne Forest, the outcome of today's race is highly unpredictable, with the weather potentially exerting a substantial influence.
From Issoudun, about two-thirds of the way through the stage, the riders will encounter roads vulnerable to crosswinds, reminiscent of 2013 when a 15-rider group led by the Saxo Bank Team capitalised on crosswinds 31 kilometres from the finish.
This strategic move allowed Saxo Bank rider Alberto Contador to gain over a minute on General Classification contenders, including Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana. In 2024, the final 30 kilometres of the stage boasts three direction changes, creating another opportunity for echelons to form.
Date - Wednesday 10th July Route - Évaux-les-Bains (FR) > Le Lioran (FR) Distance - 211km Terrain - Mountain Suits - General Classification / Mountain Classification
This year, there is just one stage through the rugged Massif Central, but the stage has a daunting 4,350 meters of vertical ascent. The challenge intensifies in the final 50 kilometres as a series of formidable obstacles await: first, the ascent to the Col de Néronne (3.8km - 9.1%), followed by the gruelling climb to Puy Mary Pas de Peyrol (5.4km - 8.1%) with a particularly punishing final two kilometres.
The journey continues with the ascent of the Col de Pertus (4.4km - 7.9%), the Col de Font de Cère (3.3km - 5.8%), and the final climb to Le Lioran at 1242m. These mountain segments offer ample opportunities for ambitious climbers to launch their attacks.
The picturesque landscapes of the Cantal and Lot regions won't deter the breakaway from recognising its opportunity. The terrain in this region is predominantly hilly, with the notable ascent of Rocamadour, which will be tackled in the opposite direction to the 2022 Tour time trial.
The latter part of the stage is better suited for the sprinters' teams, who are focused on reeling in the breakaway. It's worth noting that in two previous stages with a similar profile ending in Villeneuve-sur-Lot, the breakaway successfully fended off their chasers, so this stage might suit smaller teams looking to secure their moment of glory.
The Lot-et-Garonne region offers charming roads in the early part of the stage, where the sprinters' teams will vigilantly observe the breakaway's formation. These teams will have thoroughly analysed the route to prevent being caught off guard by the escapees.
However, as the route becomes hillier near the finish, the climbs at Blachon and Simacourbe (1.97km - 6%) may challenge sprinters with a weaker team or who aren't at ease with steeper terrains.
Date - Saturday 13th July Route - Pau (FR) > Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla D'Adet (FR) Distance - 152km Terrain - Mountain Suits - General Classification / Mountain Classification
For the first Pyrenean stage, the real battle is not expected to ignite until after the riders pass through Lourdes. With approximately 80 kilometres left, the stage will transform into a climbing showpiece featuring challenging ascents like the Col du Tourmalet (19km - 7.4%), the Hourquette d’Ancizan (8.2km - 5.1%), and the Pla d’Adet (10.6km - 7.9%) climb.
Half a century after his historic stage victory, the finish line will be in the same spot where Raymond Poulidor celebrated in the 1974 Tour, his first Tour stage victory since 1965. The Souvenir Jacques Goddet will be awarded to the first rider to reach the summit of the Col du Tourmalet (2,115m), last awarded to Tobias Johannessen in 2023.
Date - Sunday 14th July Route - Loudenvielle (FR) > Plateau De Beille (FR) Distance - 198km Terrain - Mountain Suits - General Classification / Mountain Classification
The third Sunday of the Tour is likely to be of significant importance. Regardless of the preceding mountain stages, this leg sets the stage for potential upset, offering a formidable challenge with nearly 200 kilometres of racing and 4,850 meters of vertical gain. Various scenarios could unfold, and it's not unreasonable to expect teammates of the General Classification contenders to infiltrate the breakaway during the early ascent of the Peyresourde (6.9km - 7.8%).
Such a move could be invaluable given the demanding obstacles that lie ahead, including four further categorised climbs: the Col de Menté (9.3km - 9.1%), Col de Portet-d'Aspet (4.3km - 9.7%), Col d’Agnes (10km - 8.2%), and the ultimate ascent to Plateau de Beille (15.8km - 7.9%).
Sprinters are likely the favoured contenders as the race departs from the coastal region near Narbonne and continues through the Pic Saint-Loup north of Montpellier.
However, the Mistral, known for its strong gusts, could potentially disrupt the sprinters' strategies. Teams experienced in handling windy conditions may seize the opportunity to fragment the peloton and create a challenging environment for the sprinters.
Date - Wednesday 17th July Route - Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux (FR) > Superdévoluy (FR) Distance - 178km Terrain - Mountain Suits - General Classification / Mountain Classification
Approaching the southern Alps, the terrain across the Drôme region presents no significant challenges. However, the challenges lying beyond are poised to create opportunities for the emergence of a substantial breakaway group.
Those who can handle the climbs in the final 40 kilometres may have an opportunity to excel. The ascent of Col Bayard (6.8km - 7.3%) will provide a preliminary assessment, but the real selection should occur on the challenging Col du Noyer (7.5km - 8.4%). The ultimate result will likely unfold during the approach to the Superdévoluy ski station (3.8km - 5.9%).
Date - Thursday 18th July Route - Gap (FR) > Barcelonnette (FR) Distance - 179km Terrain - Hilly Suits - Puncheurs
The altimeter takes a brief descent, but the sprinters must still push themselves to the max to secure the last available sprint. This challenge arises after the peloton enjoys the sight of Lake Serre-Ponçon where the breakaway riders will encounter a series of hills to exploit in their bid to stay ahead.
A resilient puncheur or small breakaway could potentially make a move on the Côte de Saint-Apollinaire (8.3km - 5%), and they will have even more chances to do so on the Côte des Demoiselles Coiffées (3.9km - 5.1%).
Date - Friday 19th July Route - Embrun (FR) > Isola 2000 (FR) Distance - 145 Terrain - Mountain Suits - General Classification / Mountain Classification
In this demanding mountain stage, the riders face a compact route of under 150 kilometres. Nevertheless, they will climb above 2,000 meters on three separate occasions, with the most formidable challenge being the ascent to the summit of La Bonette (22.9km - 6.9%), which stands as the highest road in France at an impressive altitude of 2,802 meters.
Before La Bonette, they will tackle the Col de Vars (18.8km - 5.7%), and they'll finish off the day at Isola 2000 (16.1km - 7.1%). This will be only the second time the Tour has visited Isola 2000, the last being in 1993 when Tony Rominger won the stage.
Date - Saturday 20th July Route - Nice (FR) > Col De La Couillole (FR) Distance - 133km Terrain - Mountain Suits - General Classification / Mountain Classification
Stage 20 is the final opportunity to gain some valuable mountain points and secure the polka dot jersey. General Classification riders must be on their guard during this, the final day of racing in the mountains. If time differences in the GC are tight, it might all come down to the time trial on the following day.
A mountain-top finish at the Col de la Couillole (15km - 7.1%) is preceded by the Col de Braus (10km - 6%), Col de Turini (20.7km - 5.7%), and Col de la Colmaine (7.5km - 7.1%)
Date - Sunday 21st July Route - Monaco (MC) > Nice (FR) Distance - 34m Terrain - Hilly Suits - Time Trial Specialists
The final stage, Stage 21, is traditionally a procession to the finish line, with the yellow and polka dot jerseys having already been decided for the winner of the overall and mountain competitions, respectively. This year is different, with any remaining time trial specialists fighting it out for the honour of finishing fastest on the Promenade des Anglais.
Starting at the harbour in the centre of Monaco, the route takes in the 8km - 5.6% climb to La Turbie before hitting the punishing slopes of the Col d'Eze (1.6km at 8.1%)
The official UK broadcaster of the Tour de France in the UK is ITV (S4C in Wales), so make sure you tune in. You can also follow all the action on X by following ITV Cycling. Coverage is also available on Eurosport and on their X feed: @Eurosport.
We recommend the following podcasts for regular race updates:
Autobus - A group of slower riders in a race who work together to avoid elimination due to time limits. A.K.A. Grupetto.
Bidon - The French term for a water bottle cyclists carry to stay hydrated during a race or ride.
Breakaway- A small group of riders who have separated from the main pack in a race, aiming to build a lead and potentially win the stage.
Broom Wagon - A vehicle following a race to pick up riders who have abandoned the race.
Cadence - The speed at which a cyclist pedals, typically measured in revolutions per minute (RPM).
Categorised Climbs - Hills or ascents in cycling races that are ranked by difficulty, typically on a scale from 1 to 4, to help riders understand the challenges they will face on the route.
Classique des Alpes Juniors - A junior (under-19) road cycling race known for its challenging terrain and mountainous routes.
Domestique - A rider on a cycling team who sacrifices their own chances of winning to support and protect the team leader.
Echelon - A diagonal line formation riders use in crosswinds to reduce wind resistance and work together effectively, commonly seen in windy races, such as on flat, exposed roads.
Flamme Rouge - A red flag that marks the final kilometre of a race, often indicating the impending sprint finish.
General Classification (GC) - The overall ranking in a stage race, where cyclists are ranked based on their cumulative race time.
Grande Boucle - "Boucle" translates to "loop" or "curl" in English. In the context of the Tour de France, it refers to the grand loop or circuit that the race covers, typically spanning various regions of France.
Green Jersey - A.K.A. the Maillot Vert in French, is awarded to the leader of the Points Classification. Points are earned at intermediate sprints and stage finishes.
Hors Catégorie (HC) - Refers to climbs in cycling that are exceptionally difficult and categorized beyond the standard 1 to 4 scale due to their extreme challenges.
Hors Delay - A French term used to describe riders who fall behind the main group in a race.
Individual Time Trial (ITT) - A race against the clock where each cyclist rides alone, attempting to complete a set course in the fastest time.
International Cycling Union (UCI - Union Cycliste Internationale) - The governing body for professional cycling that sets the rules and regulations for international cycling events.
Lanterne Rouge - The last-placed rider in a race, often celebrated as a symbol of perseverance.
Lead-out Train - A group of riders from the same team working together to set up their sprinter for a strong finish in a race.
Mountain Classification - A.K.A. K.O.M. (King of the Mountains). The rider with the most points in this classification typically wears a distinctive polka-dot jersey to signify their strength in mountain stages.
Musette - A small bag filled with food and drinks handed to riders by support personnel during a race.
Neutral Service - A service usually provided by either Mavic or Shimano, offering support and mechanical assistance to all riders.
Paris-Tours -A historic one-day cycling race in France, typically held in the autumn, known for its flat or rolling terrain.
Pédaleur de Charme - A term used in cycling to describe a rider with an elegant or stylish riding style.
Peloton - The main group of riders in a race, often riding closely together to reduce wind resistance.
Prologue - A short, individual time trial stage at the beginning of a stage race, often used to determine the first leader.
Puncheur - A cyclist known for their ability to accelerate and excel in short, explosive efforts during a race. They are often strong on hilly or undulating terrain and can launch quick, powerful attacks to gain an advantage over their competitors.
Queen Stage - Typically the most challenging and decisive stage of a multi-stage race, often featuring difficult climbs and tough terrain.
Race Director - The person responsible for overseeing the organization and logistics of a cycling race.
Rainbow Jersey - Awarded to the reigning UCI Road World Champion, featuring rainbow stripes across the chest and sleeves on a white background.
Road Captain - A rider responsible for directing and coordinating the efforts of a cycling team during a race.
Souvenir Henri Desgrange - Named in honour of the race's founder, it is typically given to the first rider to reach the highest point of the race, often a challenging mountain pass.
Souvenir Jacques Goddet - An award presented to the first rider to reach the summit of the Col du Tourmalet during the Tour de France, honouring the memory of Jacques Goddet, former race director.
Sprinter - A rider specialising in fast and explosive bursts of speed, typically in flat or slightly uphill finishes - Points Classification.
Strade Bianche - A renowned one-day cycling race in Tuscany, Italy, featuring challenging gravel (white) roads.
Team Time Trial (TTT) - A race against the clock where teams of cyclists ride together, emphasizing teamwork and coordination.
White Jersey - Awarded to the best young rider. This classification typically includes riders under 26.
Yellow Jersey - A.K.A. the Maillot Jaune in French, it is awarded to the leader of the General Classification. The cyclist with the lowest cumulative time wears the Yellow Jersey, signifying their position as the overall race leader.
Riders of the Tour de France
Legends of the Tour
Julian Alaphilippe - A French cycling sensation known as "Loulou", he is celebrated for his aggressive and versatile riding style, often competing in one-day classics and stage races.
Jacques Anquetil - A French cyclist who was the first rider to win the Tour de France five times and excelled in time trials - A.K.A. "Monsieur Chrono"
Mark Cavendish - A British sprinter known as the "Manx Missile", he is one of the most prolific and accomplished riders in the history of road cycling, with numerous stage wins in the Tour de France.
Alberto Contador - A.K.A. "El Pistolero" A Spanish cyclist renowned for his attacking and aggressive racing style, earning him multiple Grand Tour victories, including the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, and Vuelta a España.
Fausto Coppi - An Italian cycling legend, is remembered as one of the sport's all-time greats, achieving numerous victories in Grand Tours, one-day classics, and time trials. A.K.A. "The Heron"
Laurent Fignon - A French rider who won the Tour de France twice and is remembered for his rivalry with Bernard Hinault - A.K.A. "Le Professeur"
Bernard Hinault - "The Badger", a French cyclist who won five Tours de France and is known for his fierce competitive spirit.
Miguel Indurain - A Spanish rider who won five consecutive Tours de France, "Big Mig" was a time trial and climbing specialist.
Sean Kelly - An Irish cycling great who was a dominant force in the one-day classics and stage races - A.K.A. "King Kelly"
Greg LeMond - "L'Americain" - Won the Tour de France three times and pioneered aerodynamic equipment.
Eddy Merckx - Often referred to as "The Cannibal", is a Belgian cycling legend and one of the greatest cyclists in the sport's history, with an unmatched record of Grand Tour victories and one-day classics.
Marco Pantani - The "Pirate of the Mountains", was an Italian cycling sensation known for his incredible climbing abilities and victory in the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia in 1998.
Raymond Poulidor - Known as "Pou-Pou", was a beloved French cycling icon celebrated for his consistent and competitive performances in the Tour de France and other major races despite never winning the Tour.
Geraint Thomas - A.K.A. "G", the Welsh cycling star, is known for his versatility and his notable victory in the Tour de France.
Notable mentions for - Wout van Aert, Egan Bernal, Mario Cipollini, Chris Froome, Felice Gimondi, Mathieu van der Poel, Primož Roglič, Peter Sagan, Tom Simpson and Bradley Wiggins (no mention of Lance Armstrong, though!)
Editor - Alan Rogers Guides
Rob has been involved in the leisure industry since completing a BTEC in Travel & Tourism in 1993. Previous roles have included the promotion of tourism in Yorkshire and running a motorcycle touring company in the Australian Outback.
He is the General Manager at Alan Rogers Travel Group, responsible for the ongoing development of the Alan Rogers website and the publication of the Alan Rogers Guides and 'Destinations' magazine.
He regularly travels with his wife and young daughter in their Dethleffs 'Campy' caravan. A keen cycling fan, Rob can often be found in a field in Belgium during the 'Spring Classics' season or riding his Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycle.