The Tour is over and there are 348 days until the next edition with its start in Britain. Of course there’s plenty more to the sport than the Tour but there’s often a touch of the blues when the race ends.
Here’s a look at what’s coming up in the season this year, what to expect for next year’s Tour and more.
The opening stage of the 2014 Tour will be a 190km road stage from Leeds to Harrogate, a hilly route with around 2,000 vertical metres to tackle meaning the sprinters won’t have it easy. Note the profile above includes the neutral start. If Mark Cavendish missed out on yellow on the opening stage of this year’s race, 2014 really is the once in a lifetime chance to shine in front of the home crowd.
Stage 2 is said to be hilly, a tough challenge for the sprinters who will get their reward on Stage 3 which finishes in London. Then the race leaves Britain… but will it head for France?
The map above is from ASO and you can note the shadow of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany (and Luxembourg). Does this hint at a visit to Germany? Who knows but it’s odd to see the grey shadow hanging there although note the Republic of Ireland is there too and the Tour won’t be going there.
One theme for 2014 commemoration of the Great War and the race is said to include a salute to the battle of Ypres with a stage finish in the Belgian town. With this in mind, a friendly visit to Germany would make sense. That’s not certain but there’s talk of riding along the old front, confirmed by L’Equipe this morning. Next there’s talk of the Planche des Belle Filles in the Vosges too. A hilly time trial around St Etienne is possible, so is a visit to the Massif Central hills to spice things up. The race will visit the Alps first and I understand the Alpine resorts of Risoul and Morzine are likely. Then Pyrenees will feature heavily.
Thomas Vergouwen’s Velowire blog is great at piecing together the route of the race ahead of the announcement. The route is already fixed of course and the details will be revealed on Thursday 24 October in the traditional presentation. It’s testimony to the Tour’s status that as soon as the race finishes talk turns to the route for 2014.
August, the busiest month
You might think there’s a lull in the sport but in terms of race days August is the busiest month of the year with over 80 days of racing ahead. And that’s excluding the post-Tour criteriums.
The inaugural Arctic Tour of Norway starts soon which offers interest through novelty and next weekend sees two World Tour races, the Tour de Pologne and the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian. The Polish Tour actually starts in Italy with high mountains and we’ll see Vincenzo Nibali and Bradley Wiggins both back in action after the Giro. San Sebastian is dependable with its Jaizkibel climb near the finish, a battle between the one day specialists and Tour de France strongmen.
Beyond this the Vuelta awaits. Alberto Contador has said no but apparently manager Bjarne Riis wants him to say yes. Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde will be there and so will others, including Vincenzo Nibali. You can download a full calendar for your diary or phone at inrng.com/calendar.