TDF News Flash for October 26, 2006
Edited by Gregor Brown
2007 Tour offers a modern yet classic parcours
Landis snubbed as ASO unveils route where tough Pyrenean stages will be crucial
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Paris
"After all that happened in 2006 we really believe cycling deserves a second chance," said Patrice Clerc, President of ASO, today at the unveiling of the 2007 Tour de France. At the presentation in Paris, Clerc was alluding to the problems of this past year while delivering a classical and challenging 2007 parcours.
"We think that these problems also bring a lot of hope for solving the problem of the doping in cycling. ... 2007 will be a fantastic start in the great capital of London and a great expression for a renewed Tour de France."
Today, Thursday afternoon, La Grand Boucle was revealed to included 3547 kilometres of riding over 20 stages, starting in London and ending in Paris. There will be a total of 11 flat stages, 2 individual time trials and 6 mountain stages, with three being mountain top finishes. There is only the standard two rest days but the riders will note the lack of long transfers, allowing the focus to be on the actual racing.
As referenced to earlier in the day by Cyclingnews, the 2007 route will take the peloton in a clock-wise motion; hitting the alpine stages before the Pyrenees. Here, near Spain, more focus has been given this year, where there are three serious mountainous tests, with a rest day scheduled in Pau before the third. The two hard days, followed by the rest day, will surely produce a stunning shake up when the riders arrive, after 218 km, on the top of the Col d’Aubisque.
Following the Pyrenees, the race will offer the standard weekend finale: Saturday will be a time trail in Cognac and Sunday the flat dash into Paris.
(A more detailed report with more reactions to follow. Meanwhile, Cyclingnews has already taken a lap of the prologue course in London - see our report.)
Landis - the mirror cracked
By Gerard Knapp
The presentation of this year's route was not without its controversial moment, as the traditional eight-minute film that is shown during the presentation - reviewing the most recent Tour and other great moments in the race - ended with the American winner of the 2006 Tour, Floyd Landis, on the winner's podium, but then the image then changed to become a cracked mirror.
Landis, who failed a doping test taken during this year's Tour, was not invited to attend Thursday's presentation. He strenuously denies the doping charge and is mounting a spirited defense. While there has been no official change to the results - as this cannot be done until the legal process involved in suspending an athlete has runs its course - it appears that ASO no longer considers him to be the champion.
"The deception we felt was capital," said Tour de France race director, Christian Prudhomme. "Doping is the number one problem in sport." But Prudhomme said he felt deceived by the American. "We got hit over the back of the head by what happened," he said.
ASO seems unaffected by Landis' claim that he did not use testosterone - or any other illegal performance enhancing substances - to win the 2006 Tour. Landis' position should be resolved in still-to-be-announced hearings to be held by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Landis has mounted a spirited defense and engaged leading lawyer, Howard Jacobs, at considerable expense to prepare his case, which has included a PR offensive (see report), such as publishing several documents claiming to show inconsistencies in the tests that allegedly detected synthetic testosterone in his urine samples from the now-infamous stage 17 of the 2006 Tour, where Landis put in what was said to be - at the time - one of the greatest solo rides in Tour history. (See the Cyclingnews report analysing the documents Landis has published as part of his PR offensive.)
"The events of the summer have left their mark," Prudhomme said. "Indeed, not all of them have been resolved," he said in reference to the ongoing issue. "But if the spirit present in Strasbourg at the end of June (where favourites such as Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso were withdrawn from the race due to allegations contained in the Spanish Operacion Puerto investigation) is indeed the expression of a staunch and shared commitment to fight against doping, then not only do we have nothing to fear in the future, but everything to hope for."
Prudhomme pointed to the support of the Tour shown by London Mayor, Ken Livingstone. "When you have the major of the financial capital of Europe saying he wants the Tour to be in London ... that is very seductive," he said. "In 2007 the Tour de France will be long awaited, closely watched, observed."
Indeed it will. Cyclingnews will continue its coverage with more reactions to follow.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Luc Claessen/www.ctm-images.com
Images by AFP Photo
Images by Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews.com
Images by Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com
Prologue - July 7: London - London, 8 km
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)