Blog Post

On Wednesday in front of an audience of 4,000 people at the Paris Convention Centre one of the worst-kept secrets in cycling was confirmed when Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme officially unveiled the 2013 route and announced that the 100th edition of the race will be an entirely French affair, the first time since the centenary in 2003, and will include an unprecedented double ascent of the iconic Alpe-d’Huez.

The three-week race will begin on 29th June on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, the first time the race has ever visited the island, and finish 3,360 km (2,086 miles) later on 21st June against the backdrop of a floodlit Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The centennial edition of the race promises to be something special, from the spectacular Grand Départ in beautiful Corsica all the way to the final stage where the magnificent Palace of Versailles will play host to the start. And with 28 high mountain passes, three more than this year, the terrain will certainly be one for the climbers. The mountainous route will see the riders tackle 5 medium mountain stages and 6 high mountains stages, four of which will have a summit finishes at Ax 3 Domaines, Mont Ventoux, Alpe-d’Huez and Annecy-Semnoz, a new venue on the Tour map.

The traditional Bastille Day stage on 14th July is the race’s longest at 242 km (150 miles), ending with the 20.8 kilometre (13 miles) ascent of the feared Mont Ventoux, one of cycling’s most mythic climbs. And 4 days later on 18th July, riders will climb the famous Alpe-d’Huez and its 21 steep switchbacks twice in the same stage.

There will be three time trials, one team trial and two individual. And in a response to the domination in this year’€™s tour by champion Bradley Wiggins the organizers have made a decision to shorten the combined length of the race’s two individual time trials. The 65 km (40 miles) of individual time trials are split evenly between the 11th and 17th stages and is almost 40 km (25 miles) less than in the 2012 Tour. The first individual time trial on 10th July finishes against the backdrop of the Mont Saint-Michel monastery, remarkably only the second time it has featured in the race.

The final stage will begin inside the grounds of the Versailles Palace where the sprawling 17th-century chateau will serve as a backdrop to the stage start. The start will be later in the day than usual and will be timed for a 9pm finish, while there is still enough light to ensure riders’ safety. In another change to tradition, the eight laps of the Champs-Élysées will send riders all the way around the giant Arc de Triomphe arch at the top of the grand avenue, rather than just passing in front of it as in previous years.

They say be careful what you wish for and when I rode the 2012 Tour de France route this summer I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that it didn’t include some of the iconic climbs of the Tour. Having taken the time to digest next year’s Tour route, and also next year’s Giro route, there won’t be any complaints this time. In fact the prospect of climbing Mont Ventoux at the end of a 150 mile stage followed by a double ascent of Ape-d’Huez 4-days later doesn’€™t appeal to me a great deal as I sit at my desk writing this.

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