The Pyrenees, crossed by Tour de France riders for the first time 100 years ago, will be center stage in the Tour’s 2010 route, which was officially unveiled Wednesday in Paris. “It is no secret that the Tour de France will celebrate the Pyrenees 100 years after the riders climbed their mountain passes for the first time,” Tour director Christian Prudhomme explained. “I tried to build a route that is balanced, never boring and remains exciting until the end.”
In 2010, the Grand Départ of Le Tour will be in Rotterdam, the fifth time the Tour has started in the Netherlands. The three-week stage race, July 3 to 25, includes six mountain stages, four are Pyrenean stages in the final week. The 97th edition of the tour De France will comprise 1 prologue, 9 flat stages, 6 mountain stages and 3 summit finishes, 4 medium mountain stage and 1 individual time-trial stage (59km).
From the Tour start in Rotterdam, Netherlands start, the 97th edition of the Tour de France travels clockwise, south through Belgium, then via transitional stages in eastern France, south through the Alps and then west near the Massif Central to the Pyrénées before the the final decisive stages in the southern mountains and a 51km individual from Bordeaux to Pauillac before the traditional finish in Paris. The Tour’s the Alpine mountains include stages to Morzine and Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. The final mountain stages are in the Pyrénées, including Ax-3 Domaines, Luchon, Pau and Col du Tourmalet in the final week of racing. The Col du Tourmalet comes only four days before the finish in Paris, where the stage climbs the Marie-Blanque and Soulor before the Tourmalet mountaintop finish.
Riding SRAM RED, Astana’s Contador won his second Tour de France in 2009, by 4’11″ over SRAM RED equipped Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and 5’24″ over his SRAM RED equipped Astana teammate Armstrong. 1st overall Contador said “My real rival in 2010 is Andy Schleck. Looking at the time trial, it’s better for me than last year. This Tour is better for me than last year, especially with a stage finish atop a climb so difficult as the Tourmalet.
“If I have good legs, I can take out a lot of time in the mountains going into the final time trial. Astana was the most-watched team during the past year. We have nothing to hide. I don’t have any problems. I hope to be the leader of the team, but I still don’t know where I am going to be racing. Concerning a rivalry with Armstrong, I don’t see it like that. I see Andy Schleck, myself and Armstrong as the favorites. I won’t look just to Lance, but rather watch all my rivals.”
SRAM RED equipped Andy Schleck, 2nd overall in 2009 explained “At the first look, the entire 2010 Tour looks hard. The first week with the classics-type courses will require special attention. The second week, we’re already in the mountains with the Jura and Alps. Those stages will be harder than they look on paper. And the third week is brutal. Tourmalet is a classic, big climb, which I like better anyway. The final time trial doesn’t suit my abilities, but I am improving and I will have to adapt. Contador will be the man to beat.”
As for other reactions to the 2010 Tour De France route, Giro sponsored Team Astana had this to stay:
Astana Manager Johan Bruyneel: “I think it’s a very traditional course. There is a little bit less time trialing than normal but other than that there are no surprises. In the beginning the stage with the cobblestones can be tricky but other than that it is very predictable. It’s a pity that there is no team time trial. Now at least they have eliminated the TTT which I think is better than the strange rules – about the time won or lost after a TTT – that existed in the past. It’s either you have it or you don’t have it, without special rules. Now it is easy; there is no TTT. At least that is fair.”
2007 & 2009 Tour De France winner Alberto Contador: “I like the course. It will be a better Tour for climbers than for rouleurs. Honestly I would have preferred a 10km shorter time trial and a second one of 20 or 30km, but I am really happy about the course. It will be a very difficult race to control in the first week, which is particularly difficult with the Paris-Roubaix cobblestones, but I don’t give it too much importance. The most important thing will be not to crash. I hope it will not rain there. The Alps stages will be less hard. The Pyrenees will be twice as hard as this year, especially with the double climb of the Tourmalet, one of them with a mountaintop finish. I will recognize those stages to know more about them.”
Seven time Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong, third in 2009: “I think it’s an interesting course. It starts exciting. The first few days will provide a lot of drama for people between the crosswinds in Holland and the hills in and around Brussels and Spa and then with of course the cobblestones when we first come into France. The cobbles themselves are dangerous but what is even more dangerous is the run into the cobblestones. The kilometers before, the nerves, the anticipation before, the positioning, that is the most dangerous part. You need obviously an all rounded team but I think you have to take some big guys who can definitely support you in that first week because with the cobble sections you have to be in the front. I remember we did those sections in 2004 and I had great support from Ekimov and Hincapie. We came in the cobble zones first. It makes a big difference.”
“There will be only 60km of individual time trials but the only thing that is unfortunate for us, is that there will be no team time trial. The race will technically and tactically be much different than this year. You will have more guys who will be factors in the race because of the lack of the team time trial. In 2009 the TTT eliminated half of a dozen guys.”
“I think the organizers like what they had this year with a summit finish so late in the race. It keeps things close, it keeps everybody guessing. It keeps the riders sharp too. The race will not be decided before the last three or four days. Two times on the Tourmalet is unique too. I like it.”
“I will be close to 39 years old but the goal and ambition will be to try to win. I’m excited for the whole upcoming season. I like to think that I will be better than last year but Alberto has shown that he is the best in his sport right now; he will be tough to beat.”
2010 Tour de France
Saturday, July 3: Prologue TT Rotterdam / 8 km Sunday, July 4: Stage 1 / Rotterdam-Brussels / 224 km Monday, July 5: Stage 2 / Brussels-Spa / 192 km Tuesday, July 6: Stage 3 / Wanze-Arenberg Porte du Hainaut / 207 km Wednesday, July 7: Stage 4 / Cambrai-Reims / 150 km Thursday, July 8: Stage 5 / Epernay-Montargis / 185 km Friday, July 9: Stage 6 / Montargis-Gueugnon / 225 km
Saturday, July 10: Stage 7 / Tournus-Station des Rousses / 161 km Sunday, July 11: Stage 8 / Station des Rousses-Morzine Avoriaz / 189 km Monday, July 12: Rest day / Morzine Avoriaz Tuesday, July 13: Stage 9 / Morzine Avoriaz-St Jean de Maurienne / 204km Wednesday, July 14: Stage 10 / Chambery-Gap / 179 km Thursday, July 15: Stage 11 / Sisteron-Bourg les Valence / 180 km Friday, July 16: Stage 12 / Bourg de Peage-Mende / 210 km
Saturday, July 17: Stage 13 / Rodez – Revel / 195 km Sunday, July 18: Stage 14 / Revel-Ax 3 Domaines / 184 km Monday, July 19: Stage 15 / Pamiers-Bagnes de Luchon, 187 km Tuesday, July 20: Stage 16 / Bagneres de Luchon-Pau, 196 km Wednesday, July 21: Rest day-Pau Thursday, July 22: Stage 17 / Pau-Col du Tourmalet / 174 km Friday, July 23: Stage 18 / Salies de Bearn-Bordeaux / 190 km Saturday, July 24: Stage 19 / Bordeaux-Pauillac ITT / 59km Sunday, July 25: Stage 20 / Longjumeau-Paris Champs Elysees / 105 km Total distance: 3,596km