Reigning champion Chris Froome wary of cobbles but remains confident after 2014 Tour de France route revealed

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Reigning champion Chris Froome wary of cobbles but remains confident after 2014 Tour de France route revealed

Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) admits the defence of his maillot jaune could rest on avoiding trouble on the cobbles – but he remains confident of fulfilling his major goal for 2014.

Organisers today revealed the full route of the 101st edition of cycling’s greatest race, with the cobblestones of France – a staple of the spring classics – returning during stage five for the first time since causing carnage in 2010.

Chris Froome celebrates his famous 2013 victory on the podium, but the Kenyan-born Brit faces a tough task to defend the yellow jersey next year (pic: Sirotti)

Kenyan-born Brit Froome already admitted before the announcement he was wary of the inclusion of cobbles, but he believes the overall route is still to his liking.

“For us as riders, [the cobbles are] a bit of a risk,” he told the team website. “There are accidents and mechanical problems that could happen.

“But it will make the race exciting and begin to sort the race out at an early stage.

“I like the route. It’s challenging and it’s got a bit of everything, which is good for the Tour. It’s exactly what we need.”

Among the stages revealed at the Tour presentation in the Palais des Congres today is the return of the summit finish at La Planches des Belles Filles – scene of Froome’s first ever Tour stage win in 2012.

He famously blasted away from team leader Sir Bradley Wiggins – who was already assured of moving into the yellow jersey – to solo to stage victory on the punishing final ascent.

And Froome admitted he is happy to be returning to the scene of his maiden triumph, for a stage he believes will be important in shaping the general classification.

“It was a very special day for me winning at La Planches des Belles Filles,” he said. “I’ll get a special feeling going back there again next year.

Chris Froome won his first career Tour de France stage at La Planches des Belle Filles in 2012, and the race returns there next year (pic: Sirotti)

“It’s going to be the first summit finish again – which it was last time – and I think that always marks quite an important day for the GC riders.

“Before we reach that climb it’s a harder stage than it was in the last edition and maybe we can expect some bigger time gaps next time around.”

Froome put time into his main rivals in both of last year’s individual time trial stages, but this year’s route contains only one test against the clock: the 54km stage on the penultimate day of racing.

But he added: “I think there is enough time trialling, especially with the one time trial being over 50km. That’s definitely going to sort the race out. It’s predominantly flat, it’s long, and there could be big time gaps there as well.”

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