The iconic climb of Alpe d’Huez will feature in next year’s Tour de France, it was announced in Paris this morning. However, it is not just the Alps which will decide the wearer of the yellow jersey come the final stage into Paris on Sunday 26th July.
The peloton already knew that they would begin the race with a 13.7km time trial around Utrecht, which opens up the possibility for time trial specialist Tony Martin to take the first yellow jersey of the 2015 race.
The Grand Depart on Dutch soil leads to a transition stage through the lowlands of the Netherlands subject to crosswinds before a stage which finishes up the Mur de Huy, traditionally known as the finish for the Fleche-Wallonne classic.
This follows recent editions of Grand Tours which look to add testing finishes that affect the general classification. Stage 4 also consists of a return to cobblestone racing, which caused havoc in last years race and were crucial in Vincenzo Nibali's victory.
However, only 13.3km over seven cobble sections will be included on this year's route. Stage 9 includes the addition of a 28km team time trial from Vannes to Plumelec, these and the opening stage time trial will be the only kilometres against the clock.
The mountain ranges of the Pyrenees and Alps will once again play a pivotal role in the overall race picture. The Pyrenees feature summit finishes at La Pierre-Saint-Martin and Plateau De Beille as well as climbs up the Col d'Aspin and the Tourmalet before heading into the second rest day.
The summit finish at Pra-Loup is the scene of where Eddy Merckx lost control of his Tour de France quest 40 years ago. There are two summit finishes up La Toussuire and Alpe d'Huez on the final Friday and Saturday to culminate the Tour's mountain stages. La Toussuire is the climb where Chris Froome infamously attacked Bradley Wiggins in 2012 which has since led to numerous amounts of back and forth inter-team feuds.
Alpe d'Huez was last used two years ago in the 100th edition of the race, where Christophe Riblon won the stage and meant he added his name to the previous winners on the historic climb.
Next year’s stage up to the Alpe d'Huez is short compared to last years double ascent either side of the tricky Col de Sarenne descent. The riders will then fly up to Sèvres for the ceremonial ride into Paris before the sprinters fight it out for stage victory.
The limited amount of time trial kilometres will be seen as a disappointment to Chris Froome who would have been looking to put time into his rivals on these stages.
But he will still feel confident against his rivals if he is able to reach the mountain stages unscathed both physically and time wise. The participation of Froome in next year's Grand Tours is yet to be confirmed and he raised some doubt over his Tour de France participation after the route announcement this morning.
He said in a statement: "In the past I've only targeted one grand tour each season but it could be a good opportunity for me to focus seriously on two. If I did the Giro I may also be able to get myself back to top shape for the Vuelta and go there with a realistic chance of aiming for the win"
Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali will be looking to use his tactical nous and bike handling skills over the first week of the tour and be in a position to defend the jersey rather than attacking other riders to try and win the jersey in the mountains. Whereas Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana will be waiting until the mountain ranges to attack their rivals.
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