The route of the 2008 Tour de France has been announced today, and with it some interesting changes when it takes place on 5-27 July 2008.
The Grand Depart will be in Brest, with the first couple of stages set in Brittany. For the first time since in 40 years, a prologue won’t start the race and instead a 195km stage will start proceedings, meaning a sprinter is likely to wear the yellow jersey come the end of the first days racing.
The historical province of Brittany is accustomed to hosting the start of the race, having done so six times previously. Interestingly, on those occasions Coppi, Antuetil, Merckx, Hinault and Indurain have gone on to win the race.
After a couple of stages in Brittany, the route will follow a counter-clockwise route around France. The first time trial comes on stage four, with a 29km dash around Cholet, with the final time trial a 53km route from CérillySaint to Amand-Montrond. Then it’s onwards, and two days in the Pyrenees with the Col de Peyresourde, Col du Tourmalet and the Col d’Aspin featuring.
A brief interlude proceeds the chage into the Alps, and the infamous Alpe d’Huez coming after the ascent of Col de la Lombarde , Col de la Bonnette-Restefonds (a heady 2,802m high), Col du Galibier and the Col de la Croix-de-Fer.
The second and final time trail comes on stage 20, the penultimate day of the tour. The total distance for the three week race is 3,554km.