The sport of cycling has been in the news a lot recently; unfortunately mostly for negative reasons. However let’s remember the recent achievements; British cyclist Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France 2012 in fantastic style! This was the first time a Brit has won the Tour de France in history!
The 2013 Tour de France route has just been released, with the event solely based in France this time around. The cycling marathon runs from June 29 to July 21 2013 and will be the 100th edition of the gruelling test of stamina. The riders will follow a 3,360km route exclusively within France this time around with a spectacular night-time finish along Paris' Champs-Élysées on July 21st.
The endurance race starts on the island of Corsica in Porto Vecchio for the very first time. Dubbed the ‘Isle of Beauty’ the designated route then takes in several UNESCO Heritage sites on French soil such as the Calanques de Piana in the Gulf of Porto on Corsica; a nature reserve which forms part of the wildlife-rich Regional Natural Park of Corsica on the Scandola peninsula. The route also takes in the carefully manicured gardens of the Chateau de Versailles, which was home to French Kings from Louis XIV to Louis XVI. The Palace of Versailles is an architectural wonder that has been improved upon and added to with every generation, providing the blueprint for royal residences across Europe for more than a century. The route also includes the Albi Cathedral and the historical city centre of Lyon.
After navigating Corsica over three courses, Le Tour then travels along France’s heritage coast starting in Nice and then taking in Marseilles, Saint-Malo and Mont-Saint-Michel. In fact a total of 6 stages will finish by the sea.
The Tour takes in a total of 10 new stage towns including the starting point at Porto-Vecchio, the city of Bastia, Corsica’s capital city Ajaccio and Calvi. On the French mainland new stage towns include , Cagnes-sur-Mer in the Alpes, Saint-Gildas-des-Bois in the Loire, Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule in Allier, Givors on the Rhone River, Chorges in the Alpes and Annecy-Semnoz beside Lake Annecyin Haute-Savoie.
The mountainous leg of the journey is said to be the challenging yet and will likely favour the riders that have proven climbing pedigree. For example Bradley Wiggins faces a real challenge with this route that may well favour those outstanding climbers such as Wiggins teammate and fellow Brit Chris Froome, Spaniard Alberto Contador (who won in 2007 and 2009 but has faced his own doping controversy will resulted in him serving a 2 year ban) and Andy Schleck from Luxembourg who won in 2010. Froome of course finished second in the 2012 Tour and will no doubt be a favourite to take the title in 2013.
The Pyrenean leg of the journey includes climbs into the gruelling yet elite passes of the Col de Pailheres and the challenging Col Hourquette d'Ancizan.
The official site has full details of the route, stages and news.
So let’s not mention Lance Armstrong; let’s look to the future and rebuild faith in what is still the biggest and most challenging cycle race in the world.