Blow for Wiggins as 2013 Tour route announced

Bradley Wiggins’ hopes of defending his Tour de France title were dealt a blow today after the details of the 2013 route were unveiled in Paris.

Bradley Wiggins’ hopes of defending his Tour de France title were dealt a blow today 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 apparently more mountainous which would not favour the Briton but instead the likes of Alberto Contador.

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford was revealing little before the announcement in the French capital where the Tour will conclude with a night-time finish on the Champs Elysee on July 21.

The team provided the two top finishers in Wiggins and Froome earlier this year and Brailsford did not confirm what their plans would be in 2013, with the latter taking on the role of team leader a possibility.

Brailsford told Sky Sports News: “We had the first and second-placed riders in last year’s Tour and it puts us in an interesting position for sure going in to next year’s planning.

“Bradley is the reigning champion but the whole excitement about today is to see what the course is like and that will dictate our plans for the team next year.

“Once we have established what the course is like then we’ll make sure we lay our resources to the best of our ability so that a Team Sky jersey is the best placed to cross the line or win the race overall.

“It’s not about one rider or another but about the team, to put our best team out to try and win the race.”

Mark Cavendish won the final stage for a fourth successive occasion in Paris but his spell at Sky lasted just one year and he announced his plans to join Omega Pharma-QuickStep last week.

Brailsford confirmed the team were solely focused on the yellow jersey, adding: “That’s the plan.

“Mark did a brilliant job for us but from a sporting perspective it is only fair Mark has a team dedicated to him for sprints.

“Likewise if you are going to sacrifice that, if you are going to sacrifice the best sprinter in the world, you are going to do that with the view of trying to win the race overall.”

Brailsford now expects Team Sky to be the team everyone wants to beat, saying: “Without a doubt. When you set the standard people want to try and knock you off the perch.

“It’s a great position to be in and now it is a question of sustaining that.”

The Tour – the first since lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven titles - will end on the Champs-Elysees at night, organisers confirmed.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme revealed a 3,360-kilometre, 21-stage route, which takes place entirely in France, beginning on Corsica on June 21 and finishing under floodlights on the most famous boulevard in Paris on July 21.

The decisive blows in the battle for the yellow jersey in 2013 could come on the 18th stage, which features, for the first time, two ascents of the 21-turn Alpe-d’Huez in a race which incorporates all the fabled climbs.

The three stages on Corsica and team time-trial in Nice were already known, while the night finish and double climb of Alpe-d’Huez were widely rumoured, but their confirmation is sure to excite cycling followers dismayed by the Armstrong scandal.

Armstrong finished on the top of the podium in a record seven Tours from 1999 to 2005 but was subject to a United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation and stripped of his titles and banned for life.

The UCI, cycling’s world governing body, ratified the sanctions on Monday.

Wiggins has been outspoken in his anti-doping stance but it remains unclear if he will be Team Sky leader at the 2013 Tour or if Froome will be granted the role in a race which features 65km of individual time-trials and four summit finishes, including to Mont Ventoux.

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