2019 Tour de France
Tour de France

2019 Tour de France route revealed

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The 2019 Tour de France will be “the highest Tour in history” — with a record 30 mountain passes and five summit finishes — Tour general director Christian Prudhomme said, according to Agence France-Presse.

“The planning here means it is impossible to win this Tour unless you are a great climber,” Prudhomme said, according to the report.

The Tour route, revealed Thursday, starts in Brussels on July 6 and includes three summit finishes above 2,000 meters — the Col du Tourmalet pass, Tignes and Val Thorens.

“That’s really going to stand this route apart from previous editions,” four-time Tour winner Chris Froome said.

It’s the 106th edition of the Tour, celebrating 100 years of the yellow jersey worn by the race leader. Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas became the first Welshman to win the Tour this past July, succeeding Team Sky leader Froome, who finished third.

“I think that [the 2019 Tour] will be similar to this year in the way that we rode together,” Thomas said Thursday, according to Cyclingnews.com. “We were always honest with each other and I don’t see why we can’t do that again.”

The 2019 Tour also marks 50 years since the first of Belgian Eddy Merckx‘s five titles, making Brussels a fitting start.

Brussels hosted the Grand Départ one other time in 1958 during the Universal Exhibition and the inauguration of the Atomium.

The three-week stage race includes a team time trial for stage 2 and an individual time trial for stage 13, each just shy of 17 miles.

“More individual time trial kilometers would have been better, so it’s not an ideal course for me, but that was also the case this year,” 2018 Tour runner-up Tom Dumoulin said.

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MORE: Lance Armstrong’s former team director banned for life

Lance Armstrong’s former team director banned for life

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Johan Bruyneel, the director of Lance Armstrong‘s cycling teams for all seven of his stripped Tour de France titles, had his 10-year ban from sport for doping involvement increased to the rest of his life by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The CAS decision came after an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency, supported by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. They sought to lengthen the original arbitration court’s 2014 ruling of a ban through June 11, 2022.

Pedro Celaya, a doctor for Armstrong’s U.S. Postal cycling teams, and Pepe Marti, a trainer for U.S. Postal teams, also had their bans increased from eight years to life and from eight years to 15 years, respectively.

“There’s effectively nothing I can do against this sanction — and at 54 years of age, a 10-year ban or a life time ban is practically the same,” was posted on Bruyneel’s social media in a letter highlighting elements of his case he found “incredibly frustrating.”

“This whole process has been a difficult, very painful and complicated learning process for myself, but after a long time, it is now time for me to move on,” the letter read. “I can finally close this chapter and focus on the positive things in my future.”

Bruyneel encouraged athletes to use performance-enhancing products such as EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone, according to the panel that first banned Bruyneel in 2014.

“I do not dispute that there are certain elements of my career that I wish had been different,” a Bruyneel blog post read in response in 2014. “Nor do I dispute that doping was a fact of life in the peloton for a considerable period of time. However, a very small minority of us has been used as scapegoats for an entire generation.”

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Geraint Thomas’ Tour de France trophy stolen

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PARIS — Team Sky says the Tour de France trophy won by Geraint Thomas has been stolen from a cycling show in Britain.

The team says police are investigating after the trophy disappeared during an event in Birmingham, where Team Sky displayed the three Grand Tour trophies won by its riders.

In addition to this year’s Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, a rider for Sky also claimed the 2017 Spanish Vuelta title.

Sky says “regrettably, during the clear-up operation at the end of the event, Geraint Thomas’s Tour de France trophy was momentarily left unattended and stolen.”

Thomas, who won his first Grand Tour title this year, asked the thieves to return the trophy.

Thomas says “it is incredibly unfortunate that this has happened. It goes without saying that the trophy is of pretty limited value to whoever took it, but means a lot to me and to the team. Hopefully whoever took it will have the good grace to return it.”

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