After the dreams of most UK cycling fans came true this summer with the Tour coming to our shores (see pic above of me riding from Yaxley to Cambridge for Stage 3), the 2015 route was officially revealed yesterday.
There were lower levels of excitement for us (perhaps), but the race is still promising to be a cracker...
Samedi 4 juillet UTRECHT (C.l.m. individuel) 14 km
Dimanche 5 juillet UTRECHT-ZÉLANDE 166km
Lundi 6 juillet ANVERS-HUY 154km
Mardi 7 juillet SERAING-CAMBRAI 221km
Mercredi 8 juillet ARRAS-AMIENS MÉTROPOLE 189km
Jeudi 9 juillet ABBEVILLE-LE HAVRE 191km
Vendredi 10 juillet LIVAROT-FOUGÈRES 190km
Samedi 11 juillet RENNES-MÛR DE BRETAGNE 179km
Dimanche 12 juillet VANNES-PLUMELEC (C.l.m. par équipe) 28km
Lundi 13 juillet REPOS PAU
Mardi 14 juillet TARBES-LA PIERRE-SAINT-MARTIN 167km
Mercredi 15 juillet PAU-CAUTERETS - VALLÉE DE SAINT-SAVIN 188km
Jeudi 16 juillet LANNEMEZAN-PLATEAU DE BEILLE 195 km
Vendredi 17 juillet MURET-RODEZ 200km
Samedi 18 juillet RODEZ-MENDE 178km
Dimanche 19 juilletMENDE-VALENCE 182km
Lundi 20 juillet BOURG-DE-PÉAGE-GAP 201km
Mardi 21 juillet REPOS GAP
Mercredi 22 juillet DIGNE-LES-BAINS-PRA-LOUP 161km
Jeudi 23 juillet GAP-SAINT-JEAN-DE-MAURIENNE 185km
Vendredi 24 juilletSAINT-JEAN-DE-MAURIENNE-LA TOUSSUIRE - LES SYBELLES 138km
Samedi 25 juillet MODANE VALFRÉJUS-ALPE-D’HUEZ 110km
Dimanche 26 juillet SÈVRES - GRAND PARIS SEINE OUEST- PARIS CHAMPS-ÉLYSÉES 107 km
Putting aside the rumours of who may and may not ride for now, the route will certainly favour a climber as opposed to all rounder. Think of it as Grimpeur not Rouleur...
If the 2012 route was tailor made for Bradley Wiggins to win the race, 2015 seems to have Quintana written all over it. Minimal time trial kms, and multiple summit finishes. The only fly in the Movistar ointment seems to be the early days in Belgium and the return of the pave. They will be fine in the team time trial.
From the Grand Depart in Utrecht the race heads down into Normandy and Brittany with the Le Havre finish spoilt for choice in scenic finish locations. Could the race be headed over the Pont de Normandie?, a third appearance for that wonderful bridge in the Tour. Or even head off the main roads into the scenic fishing village of Honfleur?, much loved by British holiday makers.
After a brilliant stage finish on its previous inclusion where Cadel Evans and Phillippe Gilbert duelled on its slopes, the Mur de Bretagne makes a welcome appearance. This stage being a highlight before the race heads South bypassing most of the Atlantic coast, allowing the riders to rest up in Pau before the mountains.
The finish to Plateau de Beille promises to be the Pyrenean stage with most likely race animation. It should see a major sort out of overall contenders on its ramps.
The difficulty is cranked up even more as the race heads back North. Mende was the scene of an epic Laurent Jalabert stage win in 1995 when he escaped a breakaway up the steep climb to finish on the airport runway. The legend of the climb was forged that day and both the Tour and Paris-Nice have seen exciting race finishes there since.
It wont be an easy stage though and as transitional stages between mountain ranges go, this will be one of the hardest for a long time.
The Alps go into the final weekend of the Tour with a Saturday at Alp D'Huez before the Champs Elysees finish.
This penultimate stage of the race is a short one by Tour standards, I just hope that there is still something to play for to avoid it being tightly controlled and an anti climax.
Despite not having the Vosges and Jura in this year, I actually think this could be a more difficult Tour than 2014.
The countdown has begun in our house already !