That’s certainly the view of Tour de France co-director Christian Prudhomme, who is looking forward
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As well as presenting the route of next month’s Paris-Nice in the French capital on Monday evening, ASO’s Christian Prudhomme also spoke about his hopes for this summer’s Tour de France, admitting he was hoping for a more open and attacking race after seven successive victories by Lance Armstrong.
“After seven years of implacable domination, there will be a different race which I hope will be open,” said Prudhomme, who will co-direct this year’s Tour with Jean-Marie Leblanc, before taking over in his own right next year. Asked what he would like to see at the Tour, Prudhomme said “suspense, to see people daring, attacking”.
Apart from 2003, when Jan Ullrich was little more than a minute away from unseating a clearly below-par Armstrong, the American rarely showed signs of discomfort during his seven-year Tour reign. But that level of predictability is certain to change this year, even if 1997 Tour winner Ullrich is the favourite to succeed Armstrong.
“I dream there will be a question mark over the winner of the Tour until the very end,” Prudhomme said. “Maybe Ullrich, maybe Basso, or young riders like Valverde or Cunego, or even Vinokourov. Who knows?” said Prudhomme. “It’s important to have freshness, to have scenarios that no one is anticipating and no one can control.”
Of course, Armstrong’s former Discovery Channel team may just turn up another Tour winner to extend their run of success, with Yaroslav Popovych the most likely contender. “It’s exciting, of course, to see what Popovych can do,” said Prudhomme of the Ukrainian, who will start his build-up to the Tour at Paris-Nice.