Tour de France organiser ASO has announced details of the 2007 race, which starts in London, July 7.
The 2007 Tour de France will take a clockwise route around the country, kicking off with the already-announced London start, nipping into Belgium and then tackling the meat of the 3,547km route.
The direction of the 2007 grand boucle means riders will tackle the Alps before the Pyrenees, and there will be six mountain stages, three in each range. As in previous years, there will be two individual time trails, but the team time trial is again absent.
This is the first parcours designed by new Tour director Christian Prudhomme and in announcing the route, Prudhomme drew attention to stage 16’s finish. "For the first time in 20 years, the last mountain stage will finish at the summit," Prudhomme said, according to the Reuters new agency.
"And the stage comes after a rest day, when riders never know how they will feel. The yellow jersey holder better not be in a bad day at that point of the race.
"After the Alps, nothing will be done. We will have the answer later as the difficulties will crescendo in the Pyrenees with the summit finish at the Col de l'Aubisque," said Prudhomme. "It is going to be the toughest stage of the Tour."
After a day in the scenic Kent countryside between London and Canterbury, the Tour will cross the Channel for a Franco-Belgian day out between Dunkirk and Gent, and will then dash across north-eastern France to the first mountain stage, stage 7’s 197km trek from Bourg-en-Bresse to Le-Grand-Bornand. This stage takes in three passes, culminating in the 16km, 6.7 percent Col de la Colombière.
The following day throws more Alpine ascents at the riders, with stage 8’s 165km, six-col crossing from Le-Grand-Bornand to Tignes, including the Cormet de Roselend (19.9 km, 6 percent gradient), the Montée de Hauteville (15.3 km, 4.7 percent) and finishing atop the 17.9 km, 5.5 percent Le Lac.
A rest day follows, allowing riders to recuperate before the final day of the Alps. Stage 9 from Val-d’Isère to Briançon is short but sharp, with three major ascents, the Col de l’Iseran (15 km, 6 percent) after just 15km, the Col du Télégraphe (12 km, 6.7 percent) and the mighty Col du Galibier (17.5 km, 6.9 percent).
After three days struggling in the mountains, the sprinters and breakaway specialists get to do their thing across the sunny south of France in stages 10, 11 and 12, before the first of two long time trials in Albi.
Then we’re back in the mountains for the first day of the Pyrenees, Stage 14 starts in Mazamet and finishes on the 15.9 km, 7.9 percent Plateau-de-Beille, taking in the Côte de Sarraille (9 km, 5.2) and Port de Pailhères (16.8 km, 7.2 percent) on the way.
Stage 15 from Foix to Loudenvielle - Le Louron takes in a new climb, the Port de Balès (19.5 km, 6.2 percent), the penultimate of five ascents including the Col de Port Ascent (11.4 km at a 5.3 percent) , Col de Portet d’Aspet (5.7 km, 6.9 percent ), Col de Menté (7 km at a 8.1 percent) and finally the Col de Peyresourde (9.7 km, 7.8 percent).
A rest day precedes the last day in the mountains, which will be a chance for the leaders to “confirm their domination, whereas the others will be trying to seize their last chance to change the classification,” says Tour commissaire François Lemarchand. This is a long, tough day covering 218km from Orthez to Gourette and finishing atop the 16.4 km, 6.9 percent Col d’Aubisque. On the way it takes in the Col de Larraut (14.2 km at a 8 percent), Col de la Pierre Saint-Martin (14 km, 5.2 percent, and Col de Marie-Blanque (9.3 km, 7.7 percent).
While Prudhomme expects the Pyrenees to be decisive, it might yet come down to the final time trial, a 55km test from Cognac to Angoulême. This will be a chance for a pure time trialist to shine as the course is not technical or especially hilly, but the placings mightyet upset the general classification as they did in 2006.
The mountains and the time trials will pose difficulties for the riders, but Prudhomme did not reveal exactly which teams those riders will represent, or how many teams will take the start of the 2007 Tour. Participating teams will be, “those which deserve it, from a sporting and ethical point of view,” said Prudhomme.
Inevitably, Prudhomme was asked if the length and difficulty of this parcours was not an encouragement to dope. Prudhomme clearly does not believe that the length and severity of races contributes to the doping problem in cycling. “In athletics, is there more doping on the marathon than on the 100 m?” he asked.
2007 Tour de France stages
Prologue: July 7, London - London time trial, 8 km
Stage 1: July 8, London - Canterbury, 203 km
Stage 2: July 9, Dunkerque - Gand, 167 km
Stage 3: July 10, Waregem - Compiègne, 236 km
Stage 4: July 11, Villers-Cotterêts - Joigny, 190 km
Stage 5: July 12, Chablis - Autun, 184 km
Stage 6: July 13, Semur-en-Auxois - Bourg-en-Bresse, 200 km
Stage 7: July 14, Bourg-en-Bresse - Le-Grand-Bornand, 197 km
Stage 8: July 15, Le-Grand-Bornand - Tignes, 165 km
Rest day: July 16, Tignes,
Stage 9: July 17, Val-d’Isère - Briançon, 161 km
Stage 10: July 18, Tallard - Marseille, 229 km
Stage 11: July 19, Marseille - Montpellier, 180 km
Stage 12: July 20, Montpellier - Castres, 179 km
Stage 13: July 21, Albi - Albi time trial, 54 km
Stage 14: July 22, Mazamet - Plateau-de-Beille, 197 km
Stage 15: July 23, Foix - Loudenvielle - Le Louron, 196 km
Rest day: July 24, Pau,
Stage 16: July 25, Orthez - Gourette - Col d’Aubisque, 218 km
Stage 17: July 26, Pau - Castelsarrasin, 188 km
Stage 18: July 27, Cahors - Angoulême, 210 km
Stage 19: July 28, Cognac - Angoulême time trial, 55 km
Stage 20: July 29, Marcoussis - Paris Champs-Élysées, 130 km
Total distance: 3547 km