October 28, 2004
2005 Tour route unveiled; Armstrong "50-50" to race
Jean-Marie LeBlanc introduced the 2005 Tour this morning in Paris. It's a route that limits the individual time trials and mountaintop finishes where 6-time winner Lance Armstrong has traditionally earned (and padded) his race lead.
Instead of a prologue, the '05 Tour kicks off with a 19km indivividual time trial on the Atlantic coast, then heads east, briefly visiting Germany. The second time trial is Stage 20, in Saint-Etienne. The team time trial survives (no word on whether the time gap rules also survive) and will be Stage 4.
Johan Bruyneel was on hand, and cyclingnews.com asked whether the 6-time winner would likely race the '05 Tour, and how the course matched up with his strengths.
"...the possibility that Lance (Armstrong) will ride the Tour (de France) is still 50/50. It's a good course for Lance but there has been a lot of pressure on him over the past six years," he said.
"It's not necessarily how difficult the course is, but how motivated he is."
Only three stages end on a mountaintop, but riders will ride through the Vosges, the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Massif Central.
Despite a tough stage to Courchevel, in which the peloton will tackle the Cornet de Roselend climb that ended Miguel Indurain's reign in 1996, the Alps stages look less gruelling with two valley finishes, in Briancon and Digne.
The Briancon stage will, however, include the famous Galibier and Madeleines passes.
The Pyrenees look set to be more decisive with two finishes at high altitude in Ax Trois Domaines and a gruesome 17th stage to Le Pla d'Adet.
BBC Sport also claims Armstrong's decision to ride or not isn't expected until February or March.
Germany's former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, who finished off the podium for the first time in his career in July, stayed away from the presentation.
And Bruyneel admitted that even if Armstrong stuns the world of cycling by shunning the event, they have another ace up their sleeve in the shape of Portuguese talent Jose Azevedo, who finished in fifth place this year after helping Armstrong to his sixth victory ... "If Lance decides not to do it, we'll have to centre things around Azevedo. I think that someone who finishes the Tour in fifth place could hope to go further."
The VeloNews page includes the individual climbs and their difficulty on each stage.
Would you suggest some quality tour companies for me to contact for the first week of the Tourde France/
Posted by: earl tilly at Nov 9, 2004 12:54:01 AM