Some of the biggest names in the world of sport who have not been implicated in the recent doping scandal were in Paris to help launch next year’s race – the 100th Tour.
An animated map enhanced by picture postcard scenes of the route showed what lies ahead for the riders.
For the first time ever, the Tour will start on the island of Corsica. There will be any time trial either. The opening stage is totally flat so it will be the first time for over 40 years that a sprinter will have the opportunity to wear the coveted yellow jersey, as the world’s greatest cycling race tries to emerge out of the shadows of doping and restore its credibility.
The Tour director, Christian Prudhomme told reporters before Wednesday’s launch that cycling is changing: “A movement started a few years ago and it must go on. Everybody must work on it,” he said.
Already the 2013 race has been dubbed a Tour for climbers as the organisers unveiled a mountainous route which will take l’Alpe d’Huez’s 21 hairpins twice in the same stage and go up the gruelling Mont Ventoux.
Top climbers already mentioned as favourites include Spain’s Alberto Contador and Britain’s Chris Froome who suggested earlier this week that defending champion Bradley Wiggins may concentrate on the Giro d’Italie next year. Wiggins though gave no hint of that:
“It looks difficult in places. No prologue, no team trial so I think it is a tough tour. The Tour is never easy. There is always somebody to challenge everybody. So its going to be an interesting one.”
Alberto Contador said: “I think it is a balanced one, a Tour that will make an open race until the end. And there is going to be a beautiful race which is what in the end everybody wants.”
The last stage will start from Versailles palace gardens and take in the L’Arc de Triomphe before a dusk finish in the City of Light.
Uphill struggle to mark 100th Tour de France