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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
Had Alberto Contador been on the start list for the 2018 Tour de France, the short 65 kilometre mountainous stage 17 to Saint-Lary-Soulan would have been perfect for his characteristics. He has greatly animated short stages in the past, including the 109.5 kilometre race to Alpe d’Huez in 2011.
However the Spaniard has retired from the sport, and won’t be part of the peloton in 2018. Regardless, he was at the Tour presentation on Tuesday and liked what he saw. “They have designed a very complete Tour,” he said. “The first important contact will be the team time trial. At the beginning of the race they will have to be attentive to the wind and some finishes like the Wall of Bretagne or later in Mende, which always make some differences.
“But the first really important day will be Roubaix, with many stretches of cobblestones. To watch it on TV will be nice, but for the riders who are there is always a risk. It is a day of great tension for all the teams that have thoroughly prepared the Tour and that in a day, everything can finish. It will be very spectacular.
“There are very hard stages, with mythical finishes like the Alpe d’Huez and other with novelties at the end: it is always good to know other [new] mountains. There is also an initiative that I find very attractive, which is to do a kind of time trial with 3 climbs. It’s a shame they put it now and not before! Those are stages that invite to make spectacle, are difficult to control for a team, stages in which you can break the block and that makes it especially attractive.”
He believes the penultimate day could see tighter time gaps than before. “There is an individual time trial that is not excessively long. This can make Froome not have as much advantage against climbers as on other occasions. In general terms it will be a fairly open Tour.”