More mountains and fewer time trials for the Tour de France in 2014
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

More mountains and fewer time trials for the Tour de France in 2014

by Ben Atkins at 7:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Five summit finishes and a tribute to the centenary of World War I for the 101st race

Tour de France 2014The official route of the 2014 Tour de France was unveiled this morning in the Palais de Congrès, in the French capital Paris by Jean-Etienne Amaury, the president of race organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), and Christian Prudhomme, the director of the race.

Contrary to some rumours, the course includes just one time trial, but will feature five summit finishes, in the Vosges, Alps and Pyrénées, in a course that seems tailor-made for the climbers.

Much of the 101st edition of the race will remember the dead of World War I, the centenary of which will be commemorated in 2014. The four year conflict, which saw the deaths of nine million men, also claimed the lives of three Tour winners in Lucien Petit-Breton, François Faber and Octave Lapize.

To date the only confirmed stages have been the opening three, as the Tour’s Grand Depart is hosted by the northern English county of Yorkshire. Stage one crosses the county from Leeds to the spa town of Harrogate, as it eschews an opening prologue once again, while stage two will begin at the walled city of York, and travel to the steel city of Sheffield.

Moving south towards France, the third stage will travel between the university city of Cambridge and the capital London, where the Grand Depart of the 2007 race was hosted.

The town chosen for the Tour’s first action on the French mainland has been appropriately chosen as Le Touquet Paris-Plage, since it was the traditional landing point for flights from the UK in the early days of cross-Channel flight, and also the inspiration for the setting of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. It also begins the race’s connection to the Great War, whose centenary is commemorated in 2014, since it was the location of one of the biggest Allied hospitals. Stage four will finish in the Nord departmental capital Lille.

The tribute to World War I continues with stage five, starting from the ancient Flanders cloth-trading town of Ypres, which was the scene of so much bloodshed in the four-year conflict. True to pre-race rumours - it will cross nine sections of the fearsome Pavé du Nord, in a total of 15.4km of cobbles, and finish at Arenberg - Port du Hainaut, at the entrance to the much-feared Trouée d’Arenberg where Thor Hushovd won in 2010.

The term Enfer du Nord - the Hell of the North - was coined for the Paris-Roubaix race as it crossed the devastated landscape that the Great War had left behind.

The World War I connection continues with the stage six start in the town of Arras, but sprits will doubtless be higher at the finish in the Champagne city of Reims, whose cathedral was damaged during the conflict. The champagne will be flowing again on stage seven, which begins in the wine’s capital Épernay, but the route to Nancy will be a sober affair as it follows much of the Voie Sacrée, on the way past Verdun - the site of France’s biggest and bloodiest World War I battle - as it heads to the city of Nancy.

After two hilly days across the Vosges mountains - between Tomblaine and Gérardmer, and Gérardmer - Mulhouse - the race prepares for the first of its five summit finishes at La Planche des Belles Filles, the site of 2013 winner Chris Froome’s first ever stage win on its first visit there in 2012.

The breakaway specialists should return to the front of the race, as it makes its way south on stages 11 and 12, between Besançon and Oyonnax and Bourg-en-Bresse and Saint-Etienne - the traditional capital of the French bicycle industry - before the peloton arrives at the foot of the Alps.

Stage 13 will doubtless be unlucky for many in the peloton as it heads towards only the race’s second ever visit to Chamrousse, while the following day will see a newcomer to the race in the ski-resort of Risoul. The 177km stage will start in the Dauphiné capital of Grenoble, and cross the the cols du Lauteret and d’Izoard - which will be the highest point of the 2014 race - before the new climb to the finish.

The race then leaves the Alps with a transitional stage between Tallard and the Roman city of Nîmes; this is followed by the second rest day, as the peloton travels to the World Heritage city of Carcassonne, before the race hits the Pyrénées for three days.

Setting out from Carcassonne, stage 16 will cross the super-steep Port de Balès before descending to the finish at Bàgneres-de-Luchon, where the last two visits have been won by French hero Thomas Voeckler.

The following day will consist of a short and very sharp, “explosif” 125km stage between Saint-Gaudens and the fourth summit finish at Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d’Adet. Via a brief trip over the border to Spain, the peloton will be required to climb the Cols du Portillon, Peyresourde, Val-Louron-Azet on the way to the finish of what could be one of the most decisive days of the race.

The final mountain stage of the 2014 Tour will travel from Pau, via the mythical Col du Tourmalet, to Hautacam, above the holy city of Lourdes, where many of the more pious member of the peloton will surely be left praying for mercy.

Following a stage that will doubtless see a duel between the breakaway specialists battling for one final chance, and the sprinters who are honing their speed for Paris, between Maubourguet Val d’Adour and Bergerac, the general classification will be finally decided by the only time trial of the race.

The 54km between Bergerac and Périgueux recall the exploits of five-time winners Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain, and offer the big powerful contenders one of the few chances to get one over the climbers on what has been a very mountainous Tour.

The peloton will then fly the considerable distance to the town of Evry, to the south of Paris, before the celebratory and ceremonial journey to the beautiful Avenue du Champs-Élysées, where the sprinters will battle for one of the most prestigious victories in the sport. Having ridden around the Arc de Triomphe in 2012, the finishing circuit will revert to the familiar route that turns at the top of the cobbled avenue in front of Napoleon’s great monument.

As it finishes, the 2014 Tour completes its association with the centenary of World War I, as it passes the tomb of the unknown soldier, which lies beneath the Arc.

Tour de France (WT) July 5th - 27th


Stage 1: Leeds - Harrogate, 191km
Stage 2: York - Sheffield, 198km
Stage 3: Cambridge - London, 159km
Stage 4: Le Touquet Paris-Plage - Lille, 164km
Stage 5: Ypres - Arenberg, Porte du Hainaut, 156km
Stage 6: Arras - Reims, 194km
Stage 7: Epernay - Nancy, 233km
Stage 8: Tomblaine - Gérardmer, 161km
Stage 9: Gérardmer - Mulhouse, 166km
Stage 10: Mulhouse - La Planche des Belles Filles, 161km
Rest Day: Besançon
Stage 11: Besançon - Oyonnax, 186km
Stage 12: Bourg-en-Bresse - Saint-Étienne, 183km
Stage 13: Saint-Étienne - Chamrousse, 200km
Stage 14: Grenoble - Risoul, 177km
Stage 15: Tallard - Nîmes, 222km
Rest Day: Carcassonne
Stage 16: Carcassonne - Bagnères-de-Luchon, 237km
Stage 17: Saint-Gaudens - Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d’Adet, 125km
Stage 18: Pau - Hautacam, 145km
Stage 19: Maubourguet Val d’Adour - Bergerac, 208km
Stage 20: Bergerac - Périgueux ITT, 54km
Stage 21: Evry - Paris Champs-Élysées, 136km


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