The 101st Tour de France starts in hilly Yorkshire in Northern England on 5th July 2014. The race will be an intense fight between Alberto Contador and defending champion Chris Froome.
Cycling has become big in Britain – no wonder after two Tour de France wins by British Team Sky by Bradley Wiggins in 2012, and Kenya-born Chris Froome in 2013. In the first stages, all eyes will be on Mark Cavendish with great expectations to win the sprint against his rivals Marcel Kittel and André Greipel already in stage 1 finishing in Harrogate. After the arrival in London opposite the Buckingham Palace in stage 3, the Tour will cross the Channel and continue the race clockwise through France.
Stage 5 from Ypres in Belgium to Arenberg will be a battle on the cobblestones very similar to the Paris-Roubaix spring classic. The general classification contenders could already face damage after this early cobble stage. Three time Roubaix winner Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland will fight for a Tour stage win. Will he be able to repeat his 2010 triumph taking the yellow jersey again?
The race continues with three stages in the Vosges. Stage 10 features a steep 20% gradient on the last ramp of the climb up La Planche des Belles Filles. It’s the climb where Wiggins took the yellow jersey in 2012’s Tour de France and Froome won the stage beating Cadel Evans.
The highlight of the second week is stage 14 from Grenoble to Risoul in the Alps with a hors catégorie climb to Col d’Izoard (2360 m). Will Sky’s domestiques, and Richie Porte in particular who has struggled in this season, be able to set a blistering pace to lead Froome up the climb for the duel between Contador and Froome?
The next crucial step is stage 17 in the Pyrenees leading from Saint-Gaudens via three passes including Col de Peyresourde (1569 m) to a mountain finish in Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet. On the next day, stage 18 holds the Col de Tourmalet (2115 m) before another mountain finish in Hautacam. Penultimate stage 20 is a hilly 54 km time trial from Bergerac to Périgeux – a case for Tony Martin?
Up to the final stage 21 to Paris on 27th July, the Tour covers a total distance of 3’664 kilometres. Twenty-two teams, each with 9 riders, will participate in the race.
The GC Favourites
Who are the overall favourites for the yellow jersey win? Of course, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador. Froome won the Tour de Romandie (like he already did in 2013) and was leading the Dauphiné for several stages, but Contador was right at his wheel and showed an impressive climb in the last stage. His key lieutenant Czech Roman Kreuziger was removed from the Saxo-Tinkoff roster only days before the Tour start due to irregularities in his biological passport in his Astana time between 2011 to 2012, thus Contador has to do without him.
However, Andrew Talansky bet both Contador and Froome in a clever strategic move in the Dauphiné. Also, three times Tour de Suisse winner Rui Costa is in top form. Vincenzo Nibali, Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodríguez, Tejay van Garderen, and Juergen van den Broeck will try their best as well.
It’s not unreasonable to expect Peter Sagan to win the green jersey sprint classification again. French climbers Thibaut Pinot, Romain Bardet, and Pierre Rolland will vie for the polka dot jersey against Joaquim Rodriguez, Bauke Mollema, and the Schleck brothers to become King of the Mountains. Jens Voigt once again is the oldest rider at the age of 42 years.
Who is not doing the Tour de France? Bradley Wiggins has not been nominated by his team for the Tour de France – a great disappointment for his British fans. Scotsman David Millar was removed from his team Garmin and will not be able to ride another Tour in his last year as a pro. Also not participating are Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Uran, Nacer Bouhanni, Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert, Carlos Betancur, Pippo Pozzato, Dan Martin, Alex Dowsett, and 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans.
Tour de France 2014: The Stages
- 1: Sat July 5 Leeds > Harrogate 190.5 km
- 2: Sun July 6 York > Sheffield 201 km
- 3: Mon July 7 Cambridge > Londres 155 km
- 4: Tue July 8 Le Touquet-Paris-Plage > Lille 163.5 km
- 5: Wed July 9 Ypres > Arenberg Porte du Hainaut 155.5 km
- 6: Thu July 10 Arras > Reims 194 km
- 7: Fri July 11 Épernay > Nancy 234.5 km
- 8: Sat July 12 Tomblaine > Gérardmer La Mauselaine 161 km
- 9: Sun July 13 Gérardmer > Mulhouse 170 km
- 10: Mon July 14 Mulhouse > Planche d. Belles Filles 161.5 km
- Tue July 15 Besançon Rest day
- 11: Wed July 16 Besançon > Oyonnax 187.5 km
- 12: Thu July 17 Bourg-en-Bresse > Saint-Étienne 185.5 km
- 13: Fri July 18 Saint-Étienne > Chamrousse 197.5 km
- 14: Sat July 19 Grenoble > Risoul 177 km
- 15: Sun July 20 Tallard > Nîmes 222 km
- Mon July 21 Carcassonne Rest day
- 16: Tue July 22 Carcassonne > Bagnères-de-Luchon 237.5 km
- 17: Wed July 23 Saint-Gaudens > Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet 124.5 km
- 18: Thu July 24 Pau > Hautacam 145.5 km
- 19: Fri July 25 Maubourguet P. du Val d’Adour > Bergerac 208.5 km
- 20: Sat July 26 TT Bergerac > Périgueux 54 km
- 21: Sun July 27 Évry > Paris Champs-Élysées 137.5 km