Bradley Wiggins’ hopes of Tour de France defence hit by mountainous route
BRADLEY Wiggins’ hopes of defending his Tour de France title were dealt a blow yesterday after the details of the 2013 route were unveiled in Paris.
The 32-year-old became the first Briton to win the Tour this summer when he beat Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome to the yellow jersey.
This year’s race suited Wiggins’ time-trial prowess, but next year’s event, which starts for the first time in Corsica, is more mountainous which would not favour the Briton, but instead the likes of Alberto Contador, and perhaps even Froome.
It will be the 100th edition of the Tour and cyclists will face an unprecedented double ascent of the iconic l’Alpe d’Huez as the race tries to move past the downfall of seven-time champion Lance Armstrong.
Fighter jets streaming red, white and blue smoke will fly above the riders as they start the 2013 Tour in Corsica on 29 June. The 2,088-mile race ends three weeks later at night against the backdrop of a floodlit Arc de Triomphe in the City of Lights.
The presentation of next year’s route for the storied race was clouded by concerns about doping after Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles following a US doping probe.
Cycling teams called yesterday for an independent audit into the sport’s fight against doping.
In the 2013 race, climbers will be favoured with a more mountainous route than in recent editions, including 28 high mountain passes.
On 18 July, riders will climb the famous Alpe-d’Huez and its 21 steep switchbacks twice in the same stage, only four days after ascending the feared Mont Ventoux.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme said the 2013 Tour would be the first in ten years to take place entirely within French borders.
Organisers made a decision to shorten the combined length of the race’s two individual time trials in part as a response to the domination in this year’s tour by Wiggins.
The 40 miles of time trials split evenly between the 11th and 17th stages is almost 25 miles less than in the 2012 Tour, which could play a large part in Olympic time trial champion Wiggins’ decision of whether to defend his Tour title or focus his efforts instead on another of cycling’s Grand Tours, the Giro d’Italia and the Spanish Vuelta.
The first individual time trial on 10 July finishes against the backdrop of the Mont Saint-Michel monastery.
Organisers have given sprinters like Mark Cavendish a gift – the 29 June stage finish in Bastia is the first time since 1966 that a sprinter can hope to wear the yellow jersey after the first stage, Prudhomme said.
The traditional Bastille Day stage on 14 July is the race’s longest at 150 miles, ending with the 13-mile ascent of Mont Ventoux, one of cycling’s most mythical climbs.
In another first for the race, which has only stopped for the two world wars since the first Tour in 1903, riders will begin the final stage on 21 July inside the grounds of the Versailles Palace.
With the sprawling 17th-century chateau as a backdrop to the race start, “it’s going to be a knockout”, Prudhomme said.
The last stage will start later in the day than traditionally and timed for a finish at about 9pm, while there is still enough light to ensure riders’ safety, Prudhomme added.
“We wanted the finish of the 100th Tour winner to be unique,” he said.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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