2015 Tour de France route unveiled; favorites weigh in

Tour de France
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The 2015 Tour de France will climax at Alpe d’Huez, one of the tour’s most famous climbs, one day before the three-week stage race concludes with the ceremonial ride into Paris.

Tour organizers announced the route Wednesday, with the event starting July 5 in the Netherlands and concluding July 26 on the Champs-Elysees.

Prowess in the mountains will be emphasized next year, with 26 climbs, including the grueling Alpe d’Huez with its 21 switchbacks.

“I believe that the Alpe d’Huez stage will have the last word in the 2015 Tour,” Italian Vincenzo Nibali, the 2014 Tour de France winner, said, according to Cycling Weekly.

No man has won back-to-back Tours since Miguel Indurain from 1991-95, taking into account Lance Armstrong‘s seven stripped titles.

There is one individual time trial — the opening nine-mile stage — and one team time trial. Cobblestones return for the second straight year.

The lack of time trialing hurts the chances of 2013 Tour winner Chris Froome of Great Britain. Froome crashed and abandoned this year’s Tour. He hasn’t committed to racing the 2015 Tour, but may try the Giro d’Italia-Vuelta a Espana double in May and September instead.

“The team and I will have to give it some careful consideration before we make any commitments to which of the Grand Tours I will compete in,” Froome said on his website. “If I did the Giro I may also be able to get myself back to top shape for the Vuelta and go there with a realistic chance of aiming for the win.”

Nibali’s biggest threat may be Spain’s Alberto Contador, a two-time Tour de France winner who also captured the Vuelta a Espana in September. Contador has six Grand Tour titles overall, one behind Indurain and Italian Fausto Coppi for fourth all time.

“I like this Tour,” Contador said Wednesday, according to Cyclingnews.com. “It is harder than last year’s and will require me to recover well after the Giro d’Italia, but I will prepare for it thoroughly.”

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