The Tour de France organisers unveiled an easier but original route for the 2007 race in the hope that the race will not be marked by the doping scandals that wrecked this year?s event.
Rumours had been circulating of a stage over Mont Ventoux, forty years after the death of Tommy Simpson and a return to the Massif Central, instead organisers opted for easier mountain stages in the hope of creating a closer race.
As previously announced the Tour will start with an 8-km prologue in London on July 7 ?exactly two years after the terrorist attacks, and then roll through the Kent countryside and finish in Canterbury. After leaving England via the Channel Tunnel, the 2007 Tour will briefly visit before heading to Burgundy and then the Alps, where the first rest day will be in Tignes.
Instead of facing Mont Ventoux the riders will then head for the Pyrenees with the final and potentially decisive time trial will be held on July 28, the penultimate day of the Tour, over 55 km between Cognac and Angouleme. The traditional run in to the Champs Elysees will start outside Paris in Marcoussis, home of the national rugby team's training camp, in recognition of the 2007 World Cup being held in France.
The Etape du Tour ride will be on July 16 and follow the route of stage 15 from Foix to Loudenvielle. At 196km it is one of the toughest stages of the race and includes the Col de Portet d?Aspet, the unknown Port de Bales and finish with the Col de Peyresourde.
A second Sportif event called the L?Etape de Legende will be organised on September 23 with the ride starting in Strasbourg and finishing at the summit of the Ballon d?Alsace.
New race director Christian Prudhomme presented the 3550km route after a moving goodbye to former director Jean Marie Leblanc. He warned the riders and teams that there could be no scandal in 2007 but focused on the details of the route.
He confirmed that for a second year there will be no team time trial early on with the first individual time trial on stage 13 around Albi near the Pyrenees.
The mountain stages start softly on stage 7 to Le Grand Bornand on July 14, but then get serious the day after with the 165km stage and uphill finish to Tignes. After the first rest day on Monday July 16, the Tour climbs over the legendary Galibier.
The Pyrenees come after the 54km time trial around Albi with an uphill finish at Plateau di Beille and then the tough Foix to Loudenvielle stage. After the second rest day in Pau the Pyrenees end in Gourette at the summit of the Col d?Aubisque.
The final 55km time trial on Saturday July 28 is from Cognac to Angouleme is north of Bordeaux before the TGV transfer north to Paris.
Saturday July 7, Prologue, London, 8km
Sunday July 8, Stage 1, London ? Canterbury, 203km
Monday July 9, Stage 2, Dunkirk ? Ghent, 167km
Tuesday July 10, Stage 3, Waregem ? Compiégne, 236km
Wednesday July 11, Stage 4, Vilers-cotterets? Joigny, 190km
Thursday July 12, Stage 5, Chablis ? Auten, 184km
Friday July 13, Stage 6, Semur-en-Auxois ? Bourg-en-Bresse, 200km
Saturday July 14, Stage 7, Bourg-en-Bresse ? Le Grand-Bornand, 197km
Sunday July 15, Stage 8, Le Grand-Bornand ? Tignes, 165km
Monday July 16, Rest Day
Tuesday July 17, Stage 9, Val-d?Isére ? Briancon, 161km
Wednesday July 18, Stage 10, Tallard ? Marseille, 229km
Thursday July 19, Stage 11, Marseille ? Montpellier, 180km
Friday July 20, Stage 12, Montpellier ? Castres, 179km
Saturday July 21, Stage 13, Albi ? Albi, 54km ITT
Sunday July 22, Stage 14, Mazamet ? Plateau-de-Beille, 197km
Monday July 23, Stage 15, Foix ? Loudenvielle-Le Louron, 196km
Tuesday July 24, Rest day
Wednesday July 25, Stage 16, Orthez ? Col d?Aubisque, 218km
Thursday July 26, Stage 17, Pau ? Castelsarrasin, 188km
Friday July 27, Stage 18, Cahors ? Angouléme, 210km
Saturday July 28, Stage 19, Cognac ? Angouléme, 55km ITT
Sunday July 28, Stage 20, Marcoussis ? Champs-Élysées, 130km
ETAPE DU TOUR: Foix ? Loudenvielle-Le Louron, 196km (Monday, July 16)
Tour de France website: www.letour.com.
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