Cobbled climb dominates Paris 2024 Olympic Games road races

Explosive finishing circuit to go with flat time trial routes of equal distance for men and women

Clock12:18, Wednesday 5th July 2023
The podium from the women's race at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo

© Velo Collection (TDW)/ Getty Images

The podium from the women's race at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo

The next Olympic road race champions will have to be capable on punchy cobbled climbs, as an explosive circuit in the centre of Paris will host the battle for the gold medals at the 2024 Games.

The courses for the road events at the Paris Olympics next summer were unveiled this week, with the Classics-favoured road races joined by flat 32.4km time trials the previous weekend.

For the first time in Olympic history, and following on from a UCI World Championships first last year, the men and women will race on the same time trial course on the same day, while there is a further step towards equality with same-size fields for both the time trials and road races.

The road cycling events at the 2024 Olympics will kick off with the time trials on the first day of the Games on Saturday July 27, followed by the men’s road race the following Saturday and the women’s road race the day after that.

The likes of Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands), Wout van Aert (Belgium), and Lotte Kopecky (Belgium) will surely be licking their lips, as three ascents of the Côte de la Butte Montmartre - 1km, 6.5%, narrow, and cobbled - line the finales of both the men’s and women’s road races.

Both races will start in the centre of Paris but venture out southwest of the French capital before returning for laps of an 18.4km finishing circuit, plus a 9.5km run-in along the Seine to the finish on the Pont d’Iéna bridge in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

The Butte Montmartre climb, which takes the riders up towards the famous Sacré Coeur Basilica in the popular hill-top tourist spot of Montmartre, is followed by a loop around the northeast of the city with another couple of smaller punches. After the third and final ascent of the climb, the race peels off the other way for a short descent and a flat finish.

The men’s race will total 273km and 2800m of elevation gain, with 10 further short climbs in the legs before the race enters Paris. The women’s race is 158km and 1700m, with six of those climbs ahead of the finishing circuit.

“We’ll have a combination of a great show and great sporting event,” said Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet. "It’s also the longest race in the history of the Olympic Games. It will be a difficult race with a very exciting final.”

The time trials

The time trials, meanwhile, take place on a much flatter course that starts and finishes in the centre of Paris, the ramp being at the striking Esplanade des Invalides and the finish a stone’s throw away on another bridge, the Pont Alexandre III.

In between, the riders will head east past Bastille and out to the Bois de Vincennes park, home to the Jacques Anquetil Velodrome that hosted the Olympics in Paris 100 years previously. There will be two intermediate checkpoints at the Château de Vincennes, the first after 13.4km and the second on exit from the park after 22.3km before the run back into the city centre.

“I really like this individual time trial route," said Italy’s Vittoria Guazzini, the women’s U23 time trial world champion the past two years. "I particularly like the profile, because lately we’ve been seeing a lot of time trials that are a bit hilly. I think this one reflects the main objective of the time trial, which is to go fast.

“I believe that this is the right course for an Olympic Games. There are long straights where you can push hard and a few corners where you can perhaps recover a little. It’s a good balance between some technical sections and straight lines."

Richard Carapaz (Ecuador) and Anna Kiesenhofer (Austria) are the reigning Olympic Champions from the delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021, where Primož Roglič (Slovenia) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) took out the time trial titles.

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