Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has unveiled a climb-heavy 98th edition of the world's biggest cycle race. The presentation in Paris was overshadowed by defending champion Alberto Contador's suspension for alleged doping.
AFP - Tour de France organisers unveiled a climb-heavy 98th edition of the world's biggest bike race in 2011 as defending champion Alberto Contador's absence weighed heavily on the presentation here Tuesday.
Contador, a three-time winner of the coveted yellow jersey, is currently provisionally suspended after testing positive for trace amounts of the banned substance clenbuterol.
As the Spaniard awaits a decision regarding a possible sanction, race organisers gave a spectacular show of just what he could be missing next year.
A total of six stages will be held in the high mountains, four of which will finish on the summits so beloved of the thousands of fans who line the route in July.
Although there are 10 'flat' stages, the opportunities for bunch sprints in 2011, five of which were won by British sprint king Mark Cavendish, will be limited.
Time trial specialists were also left down in the mouth at the lack of victory opportunities. Breaking with tradition, there will be no time trial prologue to start the event, a team time trial of 23km on stage two and only one long individual time trial, a 43km race against the clock, on the penultimate stage 20.
Frank Schleck, the older brother of Andy and with whom he will start next year's race in a new, Luxembourg-based team, admitted: "It's a real climber's course."
July's 97th edition was one of the most spectacular in recent history with an authentic duel between Luxembourg's Andy Schleck and Spanish ace Contador, who won the race in 2007 and 2009 having won the Tours of Italy and Spain in 2008.
Contador eventually finished with a 39-sec lead on Schleck, who, in the event Contador is given a ban, will line up as one of the main favourites for the yellow jersey.
He will find a worthy rival, however, in Italian Ivan Basso, the 2010 Giro d'Italia winner who is set to focus mainly on the Tour de France next year.
Date created : 2010-10-19