23 October 2013

Le 101eme Tour de France Parcours #TDF2014

There are 255 days until the 101st edition of the Tour de France. As we already knew it spends the first two day winding its way around Yorkshire, then on the third day travels from Cambridge to London, but today the remainder of the route was announced. Five of the nine new stage start/finish towns are in the UK Leeds, Harrogate, York, Sheffield and Cambridge.

It will go clockwise around France this year meaning that the Alps will come before the Pyrenees.  But before the first rest day they will already have been in a French mountain range as stage ten returns to La Planche de Belle Filles a key stage to both the last two Tour winners. It was here in the Vosges mountains that Bradley Wiggins gained the yellow jersey in 2012 never to give it up and Chris Froome won his first stage in the Tour.
The Arenberg Trench
There are nods to history and the classics with Stage 5 which starts 100 years after the start of World War I in Ypres but will finish in Arenberg Port de Hainaut. Arenberg is famous for cycling fans for the Arenberg Trench 2.4km of pavé (cobbles) that can often prove decisive in the Paris Roubaix spring classic. Expect some cobbles to feature on this 9th July stage.

Ypres is the first of the new French stage towns. The next will feature on the stage after the first rest day as the tour travels from Besançon to the rugby mad town of Oyannax in the Jura mountains.

Froome and Porte climb to Risoul in 2013 Critérium
Entering the Alps there will be a new ski resort to visit on stage 14 when Risoul hosts the finish, it featured in the 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné so is known to champion Froome. It will be reached via the
Col du Lautaret making its 41st Tour appearance since 1947 and Col d'Izoard making another of its frequent appearances. Who will add their name to amongst others Fausto Coppi, Louison Bobbet and Eddy Merckx, it will be a lesser name as I expect there will still be a breakaway ahead of the GC contenders at this point of the race.

The Pyrenees, however, should be where this race is decided and they start on stage 16. The Portet d'Aspet and Col de Ares act as appetisers before the infamous Port de Bailes and the long 21.5km descent into the Bagnères-de-Luchon finish. Next day sees the Col du Portillon, Col de Peyresourde and Col de Val Louron-Azet before climbing to the Pla d'Adet making its first appearance since 2005. However, Petresourde and Val Louron-Azet featured in the stage that after Froome gained the yellow jersey last year he found himself having to chase down moves himself without protection. He will be hoping not to find himself in the same sort of position again this year if he is in the Maillot Jaune.

Hautacam in 2000
The final Pyrenean stage only features two mountains but they are the Tourmalet and Hautacam. Tourmalet will be making its 83rd appearance in the Tour and five of the last seven men to reach its summit first have been French. Hautacam was made famous in 2000 for the way that Lance Armstrong played with his rivals before attacking to set up what appeared to be his second win in Le Tour.

The only time trial stage comes on the penultimate day from Bergerac to Périgueux. It is relatively long at 54km that is a time trial specialist has kept relatively close to the pure climbers could turn the race on its head. But this tour is most definitely designed for climbers. Even though there are only 6 mountain stages five of these are summit finishes.

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