2014 Tour route is unveiled

The route of the 2014 Tour de France, which begins in Britain, includes five mountain finishes and just one individual time-trial, organisers announced this morning.

2014 Tour route is unveiled

The route of the 2014 Tour de France, which begins in Britain, includes five mountain finishes and just one individual time-trial, organisers announced this morning.

The 101st Tour starts in Leeds on July 5, features two stages in Yorkshire and a Cambridge to London third stage before transferring across the Channel.

There was good and bad news for Chris Froome, the defending champion, as the Tour returns to the site of his first stage victory, La Planche des Belles Filles, but first negotiates nine sections of cobbles on stage five in northern France

Details of the opening three stages in the UK were already known prior to confirmation of the remaining 18 days of racing.

Froome’s fears of the “unknown” factor of the cobbles could haunt him ahead of the fifth stage, which marks the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

The 156-kilometre route from Ypres, in Belgium, to Arenberg Porte de Hainaut, in France, will provide a stern early test for the overall contenders on the cobbles which are included in the fabled Paris-Roubaix one-day race.

The 2010 Tour included a spectacular stage which finished in Arenberg and was described as “carnage” by much of the peloton.

The riders will then travel through Champagne country, with a sixth stage to Reims as the race skirts the eastern fringes of France before a 10th stage from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles.

Froome won on the steep ascent on the second Saturday of the 2012 Tour as Bradley Wiggins took the yellow jersey which he would not relinquish.

Again it is expected the overall contenders will emerge on the climb in 2014. Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana, the 2013 runner-up, are all anticipated to rival Froome’s bid for victory.

[comment](Chris Froome and Alberto Contador at today's announcment. Picture: PA)[/comment]

The first rest day in Besancon is followed by the Alpine stages, but it is in the Pyrenees, following the second rest day in Carcassonne, where the overall contenders will do further battle, with finishes at Bagneres-de-Luchon, Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d’Adet and Hautacam.

The overall winner will be determined by the penultimate day’s 54km time-trial between Bergerac and Perigueux – the only race against the clock in the race - before the transfer to Paris.

The race finishes in the French capital on July 27.

Mark Cavendish had won four times in succession on the Champs-Elysees prior to 2013.

Cavendish could enjoy a strong start in Yorkshire.

The opening stage to Harrogate is expected to end in a sprint, giving the Manxman, 25 times a Tour stage winner, the chance to take the race leader’s maillot jaune in his mother’s home town.

The second, hilly stage is from York to Sheffield and could shake up the general classification standings, before another stage which is expected to end in a sprint, the third stage from Cambridge to The Mall in central London.

The Yorkshire start will be the fourth time the race has visited the UK and first since 2007, when a Westminster prologue was followed by a stage through Kent. Previous visits were in 1974 and 1994.

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