From the cobbles of Belgium to the loftiest peaks of the Pyrenees, this year’s Tour de France looks to be as gruelling and intriguing as ever. With expectations of Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins high, Armstrong approaching his final ever Tour, the Schleck bros preparing to fly in the mountains and Contador already polishing his podium shoes, we can expect a mouth-watering three weeks of racing.
The stage selection this year involves a lot of climbing and undoubtedly the riders to watch will be the strong grimpeurs. However, the early stages may prove decisive with the possibility of a windy stage 1, seven-cobbled sectors on stage 3 and a couple of sprinter’s stages. Riders such as Contador, Evans, Armstrong and the Schlecks need to have ridden intelligently by the time the peloton enters the mountains. Cancellara, Vinokourov, Hushovd and Pettachi may be ones to watch over the first six days.
The mountain stages will certainly provide some high drama. On stage 9 the race will travel up the Col de la Madeleine, some 25km long. A week later there will be tribute to the centenary of the Tourmalet’s presence at the TdF with a moutain-top finish there on stage 17, an undoubtedly crucial étape.
Via our dedicated TdF blog section we’ll bring you reaction to the racing as well as looking back on previous editions of Le Tour, courtesy of insights from Rouleur. Our Twitter feed is also bringing expanded tweets from various Tour protagonists such as Wiggins, Armstrong, Cadel Evans and Contador.