Tour de France 2014 route: One for Chris Froome?
Chris Froome, Tour de France 2013
Can Chris Froome make it a third consecutive Tour de France win for a British rider in 2014? If rumours of next year's Tour de France route prove true, it looks like a course to suit the defending champion's talents.
Although the route will be officially unveiled by race organiser ASO in Paris next Wednesday (October 23), Dutch enthusiast Thomas Vergouwen of www.velowire.com has pieced together what he believes to be the full list of stages. He has a good track record - Vergouwen has accurately predicted the routes of the past four Tours.
Vergouwen's version of the route includes five summit finishes, which would form the battleground for the general classification after the Grand Départ in Yorkshire on July 5. It all looks good for Froome and his Sky team.
Here we highlight the five stages that could shape the overall classification:
Stage five Wednesday July 9: Ypres to Arenburg Porte du Hainault
This stage is a key opportunity to gain - or lose - time on its cobbled sections.
Stage 10 Monday July 14: Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles
The first major summit finish of the race, and the scene of Froome's first Tour de France stage win in 2012.
Stage 13 Friday July 18: Saint Etienne to Chamrousse
The 2014 Tour route offers up two mountain-top finishes in the Alps, and this is the first.
Stage 18 Thursday July 24: Pau to Hautacam
According to Vergouwen, this will be the final summit finish of the 2014 race and therefore of utmost importance.
Stage 20 Saturday July 26: Bergerac to Perigueux (time trial)
As the race's only stage against the clock, this could be where Froome - or one of his rivals - clinches the yellow jersey.
For more analysis on the possible 2014 Tour de France route, see this week's Cycling Weekly magazine, on sale from Thursday October 17.