Feature: The Tour de France 2014


The 2014 Tour de France to start in England, have a single time trial and six summit finishes as well as some cobbles

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The route for the 2014 Tour de France has been launched in front of 4,000 people including some stars from the world of Cycling in Yorkshire who made the trip to Paris. A rider who paved the way for British winners, Brian Robinson, another who won no less than eight stages in the Tour de France Barry Hoban and the Downing brothers, Dean and Russell.


With the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire, the county was the star of the launch with Gary Verity of LeTourYorkshire making a long speech, in French, talking about all that is great in the county. The fact the third stage starts in Cambridge and finishes in London was almost lost in proceedings.

In summary though, the Tour de France next year will have one of the toughest starts thanks to the climbing on stage 2 in Yorkshire and then on stage 5 when the race pays a visit to some lovingly restored Belgian cobbles from that monument that is Paris Roubaix.


The mountains then follow with a summit finish as early as stage 10, one of five or six summit finishes. Only a time trial of 54 kilometres then stands in the way of the GC contenders before they reach Paris and the traditional finish there.

There is so much of interest in the 2014 Tour starting on stage one where the first stage will allow a sprinter or opportunist (ie, late attacker) to wear the yellow jersey. The rider who will have the most hunger for that will be Mark Cavendish. His mother lives there and his boss at Quickstep has strengthened his team to hopefully give him more opportunities to win in next years Tour de France.


Mark Cavendish is reported in “This is Devon” as saying “I’m super excited about the first stage coming to Harrogate, my mother’s hometown. I still have a lot of family there and it gives me an opportunity to wear the yellow jersey in front of my fans, so to dream of that is a big thing.”

To start the Tour de France for the second time in my career in the UK is a big big thing too. “As we saw this year, anything can happen though but I’m always excited to to go to France in July and compete in the biggest bike race in the world.”

On the cobbles on stage 5, he says “I like it. I was okay there in 2010, I enjoy the cobbles and for sure, I am in the best team to deal with those situations. The final stage too is again marked in red. But the first goal is the yellow jersey in Harrogate . ”

“The third stage should be a sprint too,” Cavendish said. “It’s a couple kilometers from one of my homes and I know the road around there very well. It’s an iconic finish in London again before coming into France and then into Belgium, the home of Omega Pharma – Quick-Step. We’ll be super motivated, especially the stage with the nine sectors of cobbles. That should suit our team down to the ground. So, we’ve got a great first week, it involves quite a few sprints.”

For sure, the 2014 Tour de France will be a challenge. “It’s a difficult route this year with the mountains, but it’s been getting harder every year,” Cavendish said. “But as I get older I find I’m not as nervous about reaching Paris. Obviously I won four times on the Champs-Élysées, didn’t win this year, but for sure we’ll go back next year and try to retain that title. We’re super excited for next year and hopefully Omega Pharma – Quick-Step can be successful.”

But Marcel Kittel, who showed in 2013 he was able to beat the Manx Missile on a regular basis, has also ear marked that first stage. The lure of a Yellow yersey adds a lot of spice to winning a stage!


Marcel told his team’s website: “It is war from day one. Cavendish has obviously put his mind to win that first stage. But I, like the other fast men in the peloton, like that stage. I can grab a lot of motivation from what I showed in the Tour this year and I know now what to expect. ”

“The opening stage presents another opportunity to get the yellow jersey which is really nice and a huge motivation. It is an interesting first week, a good one for the sprinters. The fifth stage will also prove very interesting, with the cobbles bringing a nice change to the normality of a Grand Tour. It will be both nervous and exciting.”

“Hopefully we can make a nice start to the Tour again like this year. Thinking about it now, I am already motivated and excited for the first stage. However, looking at the second half of the race, that is where the real challenge of surviving lies.”



First summit finish on stage 8.

And all this with the Tour returning to England! It’s the fourth visit to England and the twentieth Grand Departe of Le Tour to take place outside French borders. Sixty years after the first experiment in Amsterdam and seven years after London, the race starts in Yorkshire. The first England visit was in 1974 (Plymouth), 40 years ago next year.

The peloton has fond memories of the welcome it received in 2007 (London), but can expect an even warmer welcome thanks to the success of British riders. Since 2007, Mark Cavendish has become the leading collector of stage wins on the professional circuit, with 25 victories, whilst Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome respectively won overall in 2012 and 2013.

The first three stages, with finishes in Harrogate, Sheffield and London, promise some highly intense racing where after that first stage battle, comes stage two in the Yorkshire hills where five time winner Bernard Hinault is reported to have said “ the second stage is one of the toughest opening stages for 40 years. The Tour may not be won in Yorkshire but it could be lost there.”


Stage 10.

After that on stage 3, the race will then become more or a less an advertisement for the country as it visits some of the most iconic landmarks in and outside London. Once back on the continent, the next talking point are the cobbles.

All the GC contenders will have to be at their most vigilant on the cobbled sections of Paris-Roubaix that figure fairly regularly on stage 5. The nine sections, 15 kilometres in all, await the peloton and could lead to an upheaval in the race hierarchy before the mountains are even reached.

The first taste of them comes in the ‘Vosges’ Mountains. “It will be clear to see that the Tour de France indeed crosses three mountain ranges,” underlines Christian Prudhomme, who describes the stage at Planche des Belles Filles, for example, as a genuine challenge for climbers.

More summit finishes come at the two ski resorts of Chamrousse (where Armstrong won a time trial) and Risoul follow for the climbers with a festival of climbing on stages 13 and 14. More climbing follows in the Pyrenees and even beyond! The mountain climbers will again be at the forefront on two particularly tough stages at Saint-LarySoulan (125 km) and Hautacam (145 km).


Stage 13.

It will be in their interest to take advantage of this climbing to establish their position on the overall before the 54 km time-trial between Bergerac and Périgueux, which is the only opportunity for the specialists against the watch to display their skills. What follows is the procession into Paris where a rider who not only had luck on their side but also the climbing gods will clinch the final yellow jersey.

The rider who did that in 2013 was Chris Froome. “The cobblestones are going to make it interesting, that’s for sure, and they are going to make a good addition to the race” he said on his teams website. “For us as riders, it’s a bit of a risk – there are accidents and mechanical problems that could happen – but it will make the race exciting and begin sort the race out at an early stage.”


Stage 14

Froome was unsurprisingly pleased to see the return of an old favourite, the summit finish on La Planches des Belles Filles on stage 10 which he won on in 2012. It’s the first of five major summit finishes and he says of it “It was a very special day for me winning at La Planches des Belles Filles. I’ll get a special feeling going back there again next year.”

“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.”

One of his key advantages was his time trialing prowess but only one of those remain in 2014, the least amount of time trialing since 1936 it was said. “I think there is enough time trialling, especially with the one time trial being over 50km” says of that. “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.”


Alberto Contador (above): “The first difficulty will be in Arenberg (cobbles).” Asked if he likes the Tour route, he replied “I have to like it. I hope it will be one that suits me better. It is very balanced.”

“We’re going to prepare well” he told Eurosport. “It will be important to have a strong team around you and I will. We’ll see what we can do.  To win again, we will have to overcome the favorite Chris Froome. To beat Froome will not be easy as he was incredibly strong this year. I hope he has peaked!”

A rider who was one of the contenders in 2013, Bauke Mollema (Belkin), said on twitter “I’m satisfied with the 2014 LeTour route. Looks promising. Race will be more open and probably exciting till the end. Well done ASO.”


In Summary
9 flat stages (two in England stage 1 & 3)
5 hill stages
6 mountain stages with 5 altitude finishes
1 individual time trial stage
2 rest days


Stage 17. Could be the toughest stage of all  with four big climbs in last 70km of a short (125km) stage.

9 new stage cities
Leeds (start of stage 1)
Harrogate (finish of stage 1)
York (start of stage 2)
Sheffield (finish of stage 2)
Cambridge (start of stage 3)
Ypres (finish of stage 5)
Oyonnax (finish of stage 11)
Risoul (finish of stage 14)
Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour (start of stage 19)


Stage 18

Stage 1 – 191 km – Leeds / Harrogate
Stage 2 – 198 km – York / Sheffield
Stage 3 – 159 km – Cambridge / Londres
Stage 4 – 164 km – Le Touquet-Paris-Plage / Lille
Stage 5 – 156 km – Ypres / Arenberg Porte du Hainaut
Stage 6 – 194 km – Arras / Reims
Stage 7 – 233 km – Épernay / Nancy
Stage 8 Р161 km РTomblaine / G̩rardmer La Mauselaine
Stage 9 Р166 km РG̩rardmer / Mulhouse
Stage 10 – 161 km – Mulhouse / La Planche des Belles Filles

Rest day Besançon

Stage 11 Р186 km РBesan̤on / Oyonnax
Stage 12 – 183 km – Bourg-en-Bresse / Saint-Étienne
Stage 13 – 200 km – Saint-Étienne / Chamrousse
Stage 14 – 177 km – Grenoble / Risoul
Stage 15 Р222 km РTallard / N̨mes

Rest day Carcassonne

Stage 16 Р237 km РCarcassonne / Bagn̬res-de-Luchon
Stage 17 – 125 km – Saint-Gaudens / Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d’Adet
Stage 181 – 45 km – Pau / Hautacam
Stage 19 – 208 km – Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour / Bergerac
Stage 20 Р54 km РBergerac / P̩rigueux
Stage 21 – 136 km – Évry / Paris Champs-Élysées

Total: 3,656 kms


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