Some contend that the route of the 2007 Tour de France is easier than usual and certainly easier than the 2006 Tour route. They note that the race lacks a team time trial and has fewer hard climbs than usual. The riders who tackle the 3,547-km course will almost certainly disagree. The 2007 route will feature six mountain stages with three mountaintop finishes, one medium mountain stage, and two individual time trials. The riders will breast 21 ascents that are Category 2 or harder, and they will ride 11 ?easy? flat stages. Anyone who thinks that the 2007 Tour will be easy will not ride it.
For the first time, the Tour will begin in
England. The eight-km prologue will be flat and will take the riders through some of the most beautiful buildings in the British capital. Stage 1, a flat, 203-km run from Kent to
Canterbury, should end in a bunch sprint. The Tour will cross the English Channel for Stage 2, a 167-km ride from Dunkirk to
Gent. This stage and the four that follow it should end in bunch sprints. Stage 3, the longest of the race, will be a 236-km slog from Waregem to
Compiegne, while Stage 4 will take the riders 190 km from Villers-Cotteret to Joigny. Stage 5 will be a 184-km run from Chablis to Autun, and Stage 6 will be a 200-km ride from Semur-en-Auxois to Bourg-en-Bresse.
Stage 7 will give the riders their first taste of the mountains. The 197-km ride will take the field over the Cote de Corlier, the
Cote des Petits-Bois, and the Cote Peguin before breasting the 16-km-long Col de
la Colombiere and plunging downhill to the finish. Stage 8 will be harder. This second Alpine stage will run over the Col du Marais, the Cote du Bouchet-Mont Charvin, the Col de Tamie, the Cormet de Roseland, the Montee de Hauteville, and Le Lac before ending in Tignes. This stage will decide who will not win the Tour. After it, the riders will enjoy a well-earned rest day.
After the Tour?s first rest day, the riders will face their last Alpine stage. The 161-km ride from Val d?Isere to Briancon will take the field over the
Col de l?Iseran, the highest point in the 2007 Tour at 2,770 m ; the Col du Telegraphe, and the Col du Galibier before plunging 39 km to the finish. Stage 10 will be a rolling, 229-km ride from Tallard to Marseille that might end with a solo or small-group escape. Stage 11, a 180-km ride along the Mediterranean from Marseille to
Montpellier, will be affected by the winds off of the sea and might see the field split into groups. Stage 12, which will take the riders 179 km from
Montpellier to Castres, could provide a rider with an attack opportunity, but it could also end in a bunch sprint. The Tour?s first long time trial, a rolling, 54-km affair in Albi, will take place in Stage 13.
In Stage 14,