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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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2015 Tour de France Route Presented

2015 Tour de France route

Today the 2015 Tour de France route was presented. It looks like a race for climbers. Tour boss Christian Prudhomme is continuing his war against time trialing, with just 14 km of individual racing against the clock. That will come in stage 1. Stage 9 will be a 28 km team time trial.

The penultimate stage should be a spectacular finish to the GC contest with a hilltop finish at Alpe d'Huez.

Already, the 2015 Tour's hilly profile has affected the start list. Chris Froome, winner of the 2013 edition has said he will probably skip the 2015 Tour in favor of going after the Giro/Vuelta double. On his website Froome noted: "There's no two ways about it, next year's Tour is going to be about the mountains. There's very little emphasis on time trialling which means the race will be decided up in the high mountains. With 6 mountaintop finishes it is going to be an aggressive and massively demanding race."

"The team and I will have to give it some careful consideration before we make any commitments to which of the grand tours I will compete in. I see myself as quite a balanced GC rider and the Giro with its inclusion of a long TT of 60km and tough uphill finishes will make it a well-balanced race which suits me well.  If I did the Giro I may also be able to get myself back to top shape for the Vuelta and go there with a realistic chance of aiming for the win."

When asked about the inclusion of cobbles on stage five of the 2015 edition, he sounded upbeat "I actually quite enjoy the challenge of riding on the cobbles. It's a difficult and stressful obstacle for us to overcome when it's part of a race like the Tour de France, but we're all in the same boat and there's no reason why I'd be any worse off than any of the other GC contenders."  He continued "The cobbles were not the cause of my departure from the Tour this year, it was the crash on the previous stage which could have happened to anybody. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Chris Froome

Chris Froome at the start of stage 1 of the 2014 Tour. Photo ©Sirotti

2014 winner Vincenzo Nibali said that it's a beautiful Tour, but the first week will be a nervous one because of the wind and the cobbles. "The stages I like the most are those of the Plateau de Beille and Alpe d'Huez, because of their history. The Giro and Tour double? We know how to fight for the victory in a major stage race that is exhausting. There is that possibility [of the double], but we'll talk about that at the first meeting of the team."

Vincenzo Nibali and Bernard Hinault

Vincenzo Nibali with Bernard Hinault at the end of the 2014 Tour de France. Photo ©Sirotti

And this came in from Alberto contador's press office:

Alberto Contador has described the route of the Tour de France 2015 as “a
bit different from the last few years” and that must be reached “in good
shape, because it begins with a short time trial, but where will be
differences” said the leader of Tinkoff-Saxo after knowing the official
route.

In the first part of the race, Alberto said “we must to be strong in the
two uphill finishes, because although they are short, sometimes there are
more differences there that in long climbs. It will be very important to
have a strong team to be protected, even in the stage of the cobblestones,
which will have to see its difficulty level”.

“This first part end with a team time trial in which will be important not
having lost riders from falls or illness because a stage like this is not
the same with the whole team than with two riders less”, Contador said.

“The key of this first part will be go out without losing time, as it will
be on the mountain where we’ll play a particularly hilly and demanding
Tour because so many uphill finishes”.

"Finishes in Pyrenees will be very important, like the arrival in Mende, a
finish that I know well and in which, despite being short, there will be
differences”, says Alberto. “This year the recovery of all these efforts
will be very important, thinking on the last week in the Alps, thinking
they will be very complicated in case you have to defend the lead,
although they give many tactical possibilities in case you have to attack.
In general, is a Tour that need to arrive fresh at the end, but also to
start in good shape, because it is very demanding at first”, says Alberto
Contador. “I like this Tour, is harder than last years and will require me
to recover well after the Giro d'Italia, but I will prepare it
thoroughly”.

Bjarne Riis summarized his impression of the 2015 Tour saying that it is a
parcours “good for us. I like it, is a tough and spectacular Tour”.

The manager of Tinkoff-Saxo said he hopes the team “will perform well in
the TTT. The first week will be very demanding and stressful for placement
in the squad for the first ascents. I also like to have cobblestones,
because this year was a very interesting stage, but I hope it does not
rain that day”.

“I like this course”, repeated Riis. “It demands to have a strong team and
not having a long time trial is also good for us. I don’t think the Tour
has to be always the same. In the same way that not every year there are
cobblestones, neither the time trial. The Pyrenees and the Alps will be
very hard and that will make a spectacular race: we need to have a
spectacular race and I think that's a good change”, he concluded.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador at the start of the 2014 Tour de France. Photo ©Sirotti

Here's Lotto-Belisol's analysis of the 2015 Tour route:

At noon the route of the 102nd Tour de France was presented at the Palais des Congrès in Paris. The Tour 2015, which starts in Utrecht, is scheduled from Saturday 4th of July until Sunday 26th of July. The Grand Départ takes place outside France for the 21st time, for the sixth time in the Netherlands. The Tour peloton will race through Belgium two days.

The first stage with start and finish in Utrecht is a time trial of 14 kilometres. That’s the only individual time trial of this Tour. On Sunday 12th of July there is a team time trial of 28 kilometres. The second stage takes the riders from Utrecht to Neeltje Jans, that could mean echelons. Then the Tour visits Belgium. The stage on Monday 6th of July starts in Antwerp and finishes on the Mur de Huy, famous from the Flèche Wallonne.

A day later the stage takes off in Seraing, near Liège. Most of the stage will be covered on Belgian soil. The finish lies in Cambrai, France. During this stage, with 221 kilometres the longest one, the riders have to pass seven cobblestone sections. There will be a total of 13.3 kilometres of cobblestones. The last sector, 2.3 kilometres long, is situated at ten kilometres from the end. In the next three stages the sprinters can have a go. The day before the team time trial there’s a finish on the Mûr de Bretagne, something for the punchers.
La Pierre-Saint-Martin is new in the Tour. This is one of the five summit finishes.

On Wednesday 15th of July the riders have to get over the Aspin and Tourmalet, the finish line is drawn in Cauterets. In the Pyrenees there is a finish at Plateau de Beille as well, where Jelle Vanendert won the fourteenth Tour stage in 2011. The Montée Laurent Jalabert in Mende gets a visit from the riders on Saturday 18th of July, another opportunity for punchers. Just before the second rest day the stage ends in Gap, a well-known Tour city.

On Wednesday 22nd of July the third and last part of the Tour begins. Time to get to the Alps. First there’s a finish in Pra-Loup. On Friday it goes to La Toussuire and on Saturday the riders have to pass the 21 turns of Alpe d’Huez. That’s a short stage of 110 kilometres, but with the Télégraphe and Galibier on the course as well. The last stage traditionally finishes on the Champs Elysées in Paris.

Tony Gallopin: “The first nine days of the Tour 2015 are very tricky and can offer lots of spectacle. The wind could play a crucial role in the second stage through Zeeland and in the sixth stage to Le Havre. Just like last year there’s a cobblestone stage and there are several opportunities for punchers. The stages to Huy, Mûr de Bretagne and Mende suit me. After the first rest day there’s lots of climbing to do, it will be a very tough Tour.”

“We should definitely be able to be successful with the team. The past edition I won a stage and wore yellow one day, on the French national holiday. This was the first time I was live at the Tour presentation. When I saw the images of my stage win and myself in the yellow jersey it gave me goosebumps, especially with the music and the impressive Palais des Congrès as location.”

Marc Sergeant, manager Lotto Belisol: “Especially the fact that there are so few time trial kilometres is remarkable. That’s really different compared to the previous editions. There are stages for sprinters, punchers and climbers. I see four to six sprint opportunities, which doesn’t mean that it will each time be a peloton of 180 riders that goes to the finish line. It can also be a sprint of fifty. The sprint teams will have to make the race as well. The stages in the Pyrenees are tough, but I expect the last week in the Alps will be decisive.  There will be a battle until the last Saturday.”

“It’s more than eight months before the Tour start, so it’s too soon to talk about selections. No decision has been made yet. It’s an option that Jurgen Van den Broeck rides the Tour, but it’s too early to speculate about that. It’s a realistic option that Tim Wellens will make his Tour début, but that will be without GC ambitions, like in this year’s Giro. There are lots of opportunities for attackers in the Tour of 2015, that should definitely suit Tim.”

Tim Wellens

Tim Wellens at the end of the Eneco Tour. Photo ©Sirotti

I've started building a 2015 Tour page.

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