Wednesday 17 January 2018

Cycling: Froome fears cobbled sections will make Tour a lottery

Reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome believes the 2014 version could prove to be more of a lottery due to nine cobbled sections of a tricky fifth stage.

Starting in Leeds on July 5, the route features two stages in Yorkshire and a Cambridge to London third stage before transferring across the Channel with the fifth stage from Ypres containing the nine cobbled sections covering over 15 kilometres and guiding the riders to Arenberg and marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

Norwegian rider Thor Hushovd won the cobbled stage three years ago, which was described by many of the riders as 'carnage' and Froome, who followed in the wheeltracks of Team Sky team-mate Bradley Wiggins in winning the Tour, will be wary of the toll taken by the bumpy ride.

"There is this cobble stage which is something we are not used to," he said.

"It makes it a bit more of a lottery but, as a team, we will look into anything we can do to reduce risks."

Following their battle across the cobbles, the riders will travel through Champagne country, with a sixth stage to Reims as the race skirts the eastern fringes of France before a 10th stage from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles. It is expected the overall contenders will emerge on this climb in 2014.

Vincenzo Nibali, Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana are all anticipated to rival Froome's bid for victory.

The first rest day in Besancon is followed by the Alpine stages, but it is in the Pyrenees, following the second rest day in Carcassonne, where the overall contenders will do further battle, with finishes at Bagneres-de-Luchon, Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d'Adet and Hautacam.

The winner will be determined by the penultimate day's 54km time-trial, the only one of the race, between Bergerac and Perigueux before the transfer to Paris. The race finishes in the French capital on July 27.

Irish Independent

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