High Mountains In The Early Season: Tour De La Provence Preview

Sepp Kuss Puts Aside Personal Tour Glory

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For 2020 the Tour de la Provence has moved up in UCI classification, from a 2.1 event to 2.Pro (the new designation for UCI 2.HC events, just one step below the WorldTour). 

The increased status (and opportunity to nab early season UCI points) has significantly bolstered the starlist. The mountainous early season race has drawn a mix of classics riders preparing for the springtime cobbles and GC contenders hoping to blow out the offseason cobwebs. 


The Giant of Provence Looms

A relatively flat stage 1 is followed by three demanding days in the mountains, including two summit finishes. 

The 175km long stage 2 finishes atop the scenic climb of Les Crêtes overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, a 4.7km ascent at a 7 percent average gradient. 

The following day, the race will climb the Giant of Provence, Mont Ventoux, to finish at Chalet Reynard, roughly six kilometers shy of its barren peak. Regularly used in Paris-Nice, the Chalet Reynard finish also featured in the 2016 Tour de France when the stage was cut short due to high winds. 

The climb to Chalet Reynard remains challenging (especially in February). The riders will face a prelude of 2.9km at a 5.1 percent gradient before truly tackling Ventoux, a 9.7km ascent at a 9.1 percent average gradient. 

Note: Race organizers are prepared to alter the stage 3 finish if inclement weather precludes a finish atop Ventoux.

Another difficult day in the mountains awaits the peloton on the race’s final day, with three categorized climbs preceding the finish at Aix-En-Provence.


Classics Specialists Vs. GC Contenders

French hope Thibau Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) will line-up against his countryman Warren Barguil, as well as Barguil’s grand tour winning teammate Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic). 

Astana brings defending champion Gorka Izaguirre with support from Alexey Lutsenko. 

But we’ll be watching American Sepp Kuss, the pure climber who appears poised to lead a Jumbo-Visma squad absent of its Grand Tour stars Dumoulin, Roglic and Kruijswijk.

As for the Classics riders in attendance, Trek-Segafredo’s Quinn Simmons (the youngest WorldTour racer ever) will follow up a strong debut showing at Etoile des Bessèges, where he finished a respectable 23rd in the race’s final time trial. 

Sepp Vanmarcke and Simon Clarke highlight EF Education First’s Classics squad, while Hugh Carthy will feature in the high mountains. 

The season is still early and racers will arrive in Provence with varying form and agendas, so the Tour de la Provence remains wide-open. 

A rider who succeeds across a variety of terrain — Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Gianni Moscon (Team Ineos), or Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) — may very well take the overall title in the south of France.

How To Watch Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Live And On Demand

The 2020 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will be available live and on demand for FloBikes viewers in the U.S. and Canada on February 29th. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is the opening race of the cobbled classics, featuring iconic climbs such as the Muur van Geraardsbergen.

How To Watch Strade Bianche Live And On Demand

The 2020 Strade Bianche will be available live and on demand for FloBikes viewers in the U.S. and Canada on March 7th. The race is classified as a UCI 1.WT, and takes place in the Tuscany region of Italy, along the iconic white gravel roads, or "Strade Bianche."

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The Saudi Tour marked a new chapter in the arguably aging career of Mark Cavendish. The latter part of Cavendish’s recently concluded tenure at Dimension Data was marred by crashes and illness, with few triumphs in between. Well, few triumphs when one considers the impossibly high bar that the 30 time Tour de France stage winner has set for himself. 

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Sepp Kuss Puts Aside Personal Tour Glory

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