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Route of 2018 Tour de France unveiled in Paris (+ video)

Some intriguing stages including cobbles, gravel and a big final week in the Pyrenees

The route of the 2018 Tour de France has been announced today in Paris with race director Christian Prudhomme promising an open and exciting race but also emphasising the safety of riders.

Highlights will include some tough stages during the opening week, a visit to the cobbles on the way to Roubaix, an ascent of the Alpe d’Huez, and what should be a thrilling short stage in the Pyrenees, where there will also be an unprecedented summit finish on the Col du Portet.

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The race will get underway on Saturday 7 July in the Vendée region, with more than half of the 189km opening stage from Noirmoutier-en-l'Île to Fontenay-le-Comte raced along the coast, exposing the peloton to the  threat of crosswinds. Stage 3 meanwhile features a 35-kilometre team time trial starting and finishing in Cholet.

On the 40th anniversary of the first of Bernard Hinault’s five Tour de France victories, the race heads into his native Britanny after four days in the Vendée.

Stage 5 from L’Orient to Quimper is billed as providing a taste of an Ardennes Classic, while the following day’s Stage 6 includes a double ascent of the Mur-de-Bretagne, which hosts what previous editions suggest should be an exciting summit finish.

2018 TdF Stage 5.jpg

One of the most eagerly anticipated stages will be the ninth one from Arras to Roubaix, which will include 15 cobbled sections covering 21.9 kilometres in all.

A first rest day in Annecy will be followed by Stage 10 to Le Grand Bornand, including a 2 kilometre stretch on gravel roads. That stage will also provide the parcours for next year's Etape du Tour.

2018 TdF Stage 10.jpg

The race remains in the Alps for the following two days, with summit finishes at La Rosiere and Alpe d'Huez.

2018 TdF Stage 11.jpg
2018 TdF Stage 12.jpg

A second rest day in Carcassonne is followed by the race heading into the Pyrenees, including an unusually short 65-kilometre stage finishing on the Col d'Aspet which will see attacks from the start.

2018 TdF Stage 16.jpg
2018 TdF Stage 17.jpg
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The only individual time trial of the race takes place in the Basque Country on the penultimate day and with a 900 metre climb at an average gradient of 10.2 per cent ahead of a descent to the finish in Espellette that could prove influential for the overall title.

The race will finish in Paris on 29 July.

Here's a look back at this year's race.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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