ASO to change Tour de France route

Organisers keen to avoid hitting the rocks

The threat of tumbling boulders has forced Tour de France organisers into changing the route of one of the stages on the 2008 edition of cycling's blue riband event.

Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) announced Wednesday that the 15th stage would now start from Embrun rather than Digne-les-Bains and feature the 2744m Col d' Agnel before arriving in Prato Nevoso in Italy. Initially the stage was to have included the ascent at Larche but that is now being avoided due to the "very high" risk of rock falls, ASO explained.

"The risk of rockfalls on around four kilometres of the circuit has been known for a few months and all the parties concerned have tried to come up with a solution," ASO added.

The new route of around 185km is about 30km shorter than the original one for the stage on July 20 with Embrun also being used as the start of stage 17 on July 23.

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