This year's Tour de France is considered one of the toughest in years, more than 300 miles longer than last year.
Christophe Ena/AP Photo
This year’s Tour de France is more than 300 miles longer than last year.
At 2,262 miles, it’s roughly as long as the route between Washington, DC, and Tucson, Ariz. That would take 39 hours to drive – without any of the Tour's hairpin turns or hills so steep you have to throw a sputtering car into second gear.
Each stage, or day of racing, ranges from 32 to 141 miles. The Tour route changes every year, though certain iconic towns are frequent choices. It also changes direction each year: One year it goes clockwise around France, the next year counterclockise – but always finishing in Paris.
This year, the Tour starts in Rotterdam and continues clockwise around France through the castles of the Loire Valley, the Alps, and the Pyrenées, and Bordeaux before ending in Paris (see map). There are 11 new stage towns.
The 20 stages offer a little of everything, but the mountain stages really separate the best from the pack, known as a peloton.