CYCLING NEWS - The 2020 Tour de France has been rescheduled from its traditional summer dates to begin on August 29 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the latest start date in the race's history.
AFP Sport looks at five key stages to watch over the course of the three weeks:
Stage 2: Nice-Nice - 187km
Seeking to emulate the thrill of the 2019 Tour, organisers have lit the fuse of the 2020 route with bonus seconds up for grabs on the penultimate climb and at the finish line. It is hoped someone of the ilk of Julian Alaphilippe will attack from distance and seize both the initiative and the yellow jersey in the low Alps behind Nice, thereby establishing an attacking mindset.
Stage 9: Pau-Laruns - 154km
This second Pyrenean stage is possibly the toughest on the Tour with an 11km climb at over nine percent of the Col de la Hourcere, just the first of four climbs and a treacherous, winding descent to the finish line.
Stage 10: Ile de Oleron-Ile de Re - 170km
Never before has a stage started on one island and finished on another as this Atlantic coast extravaganza does. The organisers are hoping for wind on the day to create breaks in the peloton as it weaves through the narrow roads of the coastal marshes.
Stage 17: Grenoble-Meribel col de la Loze - 168km
This summit that has never figured before culminates with an old ski piste maintenance road converted into a 7km bike track. It has flat sections and 20 percent inclines that would never have featured on a real road. The peak stands at 2300m where an idyllic 360 degree view offers fans the chance of a snap with Mont Blanc.
Stage 20: Lure-La Planche des Belles Filles - 36km individual time trial
Right in French hero Thibaut Pinot's backyard Tour organisers have placed the only time trial of the event, saying they prefer shoulder-to-shoulder racing. The run up to the hugely popular Planche des Belles Filles in the Jura starts out flat and has a long incline before a final 6km ascent that rounds off the action of the 2020 Tour, making it clearly a decisive moment and which saw champion Egan Bernal's jaw drop in admiration when unveiled.