2014 Tour de France was unveiled in Paris yesterday, giving fans an opportunity to catch a glimpse at what we can expect next summer when the race returns for its 101st edition. As expected, Tour organizers have put some challenging elements into the various stages as they work hard to keep things very interesting for the riders and spectators alike.
Next year's TdF will begin a bit later than we're use to, getting underway on July 5 from Yorkshire in the U.K. After two stages across the Channel, the riders will head to Northern France where they'll have no less than nine sections, totally 15.4 km on cobblestones. Fans of the sport know that the cobbles are extremely dangerous and not especially popular with the Peloton. More than one rider has had their Tour dreams smashed on those rough roads in the early going, where most of the contenders just hope to survive.
With the rise of some exceptional climbers over the past few years the route planners are making sure they keep the riders challenged. There will be five mountain top finishes in the Alps and the Pyrenees, giving this year's champ Chris Froome and past champion Alberto Contador – both of whom were on hand for the course reveal – a chance to show off their climbing legs. The toughest of those days may be a slog up the Hautacam. The entire stage is just 145 km (90 miles) in length, but 40 km (24 miles) of that will be spent climbing.
Also a bit surprising is that there is only one individual time trail on the schedule. That leg is 54 km (33 miles) in length and will take place on the second to last day. As usual, the final day will belong to the sprinters on the streets of Paris and along the Champs Elysees.
I know that the race is still nine months off, but it's hard not to get excited when you hear about what's in store. I'm already looking forward to July!