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by Shane Stokes
October 18, 2017
De Kleijn wins Sluitingsprijs Putte-Kapellen; Cobbles, dirt tracks, Alpe d’Huez return: 2018 Tour de France route unveiled; Froome says opening week could tear 2018 Tour to pieces, wins Velo d’Or; Contador on Tour 2018 route: ‘It will be very spectacular’; Bardet gives thumbs up to 2018 Tour route; Porte returns to racing this weekend; Aru signs three-year contract with UAE Team Emirates; Woods extends with Slipstream Sports after career-best Grand Tour result; Video: The riders words – Tour de France 2018; Video: Best images of the 2017 Tour de France; Video: Girona Cycling Festival Nocturn official video 2017
A return to the cobbles of northern France and a finish in Roubaix; a mid-stage dirt track section; a revisiting of the iconic Alpe d’Huez, and the holding of a short, explosive and difficult 65 kilometre mountain stage: these are just four of the various highlights in the route of the 2018 Tour de France.
The parcours of next year’s race was unveiled on Tuesday in Paris. Totalling just 3,329 kilometres, the shortest since 2002, race director Christian Prudhomme believes it has the necessary ingredients to be a classic edition. “We especially wanted to emphasize stage variety and the routes that may prove decisive,” he said, “whilst combining legendary climbs with brand new ascensions or ultra-dynamic formats. [The aim is] to provide a vision of modern and inspired cycling.”
The race will begin in the Vendée area on July 7, with just 176 riders lining out due to new rules curtailing team sizes. It is hoped that this too will lead to more open, uncontrolled racing, thus boosting the spectacle. So too the decision to have intermediate time bonuses offering 3, 2 and 1 seconds at a point during each of the first nine stages.
Day one starts at Noirmoutier-en-l’Ile and covers 189 kilometres en route to Fontenay-le-Comte. This is expected to end in a sprint, as is stage two’s 183 kilometres from Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to La Roche-sur-Yon.
Day three could see the gaps start to open up with a 35 kilometre team time trial starting and finishing in Cholet. The following day covers 192 kilometres from La Baule to Sarzeau, with stage five to Quimper being 11 kilometres longer and described by Prudhomme as containing roads like Flèche Wallonne. That suggests explosive riders could move to the fore, and they will have their chance once again on stage six.
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