Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France

The route of the 2015 Tour de France was unveiled on Wednesday with one of the major surprises being the penultimate day of racing, which will see the peloton climb the mythical Alpe d'Huez in the French Alps.

Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France
The famous Alpe de Huez climb, which will be climbed on the penultimate stage of the 2015 race. Photo: AFP

For the first time in Tour de France history the legendary Alpe d'Huez will be climbed on the penultimate stage of the 2015 edition before the final procession in Paris.

That was one of several surprises unveiled on Wednesday as the official route for the 2015 Tour, from July 4-26, was announced in Paris by Tour director Christian Prudhomme.

After this year's exciting fifth stage — in which defending champion Chris Froome crashed out with a broken hand and wrist — won by Dutchman Lars Boom, the cobbles return for a second successive year while the first part of the race pays hommage to some of the greatest cycle races in the world.

Speaking at the unveiling of this year's route Froome said he may not take part in the 2015 race.

"The team and I will give it some careful consideration before we make any commitments to which of the grand tours I will compete in," he said.

(Chris Froome pulls out of the 2014 race after a nasty fall)

But perhaps the biggest shock is the lack of timetrial kilometres, something that will not favour 2013 winner Froome, who had said last month that he was hoping for more, or longer, timetrials to give him an edge on Alberto Contador, who pipped him to Vuelta a Espana glory in September.

The 2015 course will thus be seen as giving an advantage to Spanish twice former winner Contador, or even Giro d'Italia champion Nairo Quintana of Colombia.

Title-holder Vincenzo Nibali will also likely look favourably on the course as he is considered weaker than both Froome and Contador against the clock.

The Italian excelled on the cobbles this year, finishing third on that stage, and will no doubt look forward to the fourth stage, the longest of the race at 221km, in which there will be seven cobbled sections totalling 13.3km – with six of those coming in the final 45km.

"The alchemy of the Tour is to use every possible terrain," said Prudhomme of the perilous cobbles.

SEE ALSO: Tour de France 2015: The five crucial stages

Nibali gained more than 2min on all his main rivals this year on the cobbled section that took in parts of the prestigious Paris-Roubaix Spring Classic course, as will next year's fourth stage.

The day before that the thrid stage will also play hommage to another one-day classic, La Fleche Wallonne, with a finish on the brutally steep Mur de Huy (wall of Huy).

That, along with the stage eight finish up the Mur de Bretagne (wall of Brittany) forms an integral part of the first week of racing along almost exclusively flat terrain in which sprinters will have plenty of opportunities to have their day.

Fighting for victory 

Those two tough finishing climbs, as well as the return of bonus seconds for the first three – for the first time since 2007 – are aimed at animating the early part of the race, according to Prudhomme.

"I want to see the leading contenders fighting for the victory right from the off," said Prudhomme.

Another thing Prudhomme wants to see is riders battling for victory on a day of special significance, which is why the fifth stage from Arras to Amiens will pass through some of the most important battlefields of the Somme, continuing the World War I theme from this year's course and aimed at resonating particularly with Australians, New Zealanders and Britons.

Once the first rest day is out of the way, following the ninth stage from Vannes to Plumelec, a short 28km team timetrial, it will be all about the mountains.

Three days in the Pyrenees and four in the Alps, including five summit finishes in total, are what await the peloton.

For the sprinters it will be largely about surviving so they can take their chances on the final stage on the Champs Elysees.

But for the contenders there are a multitude of possibilities to make a difference and turn the tide of the race in their favour.

"Four consecutive stages in the Alps, that hasn't happened for a long time," said Prudhomme, who hopes that the penultimate stage up Alpe d'Huez, having earlier scaled the 'ceiling' of the 2015 race, the Col du Gallibier at 2,645m, will allow the overall standings to still be "turned upside" down, right to the bitter end.

As Prudhomme says: "Anything can happen."

The stages

1: Saturday July 4 – Utrecht, 14km individual timetrial

2: Sunday July 5 – Utrecht to Zeeland, 166km

3: Monday July 6 – Antwerp to Huy, 154km

4: Tuesday July 7 – Seraing to Cambrai, 221km

5: Wednesday July 8 – Arras to Amiens, 189km

6: Thursday July 9, Abbeville to Le Havre, 191km

7: Friday July 10 – Livarot to Fougeres, 190km

8: Saturday July 11 – Rennes to Mur de Bretagne, 179km

9: Sunday July 12 – Vannes to Plumelec, 28km team timetrial

Rest day

10: Tuesday July 14 – Tarbes to La Pierre Saint-Martin, 167km

11: Wednesday July 15 – Pau to Cauterets-Vallee de Saint-Savin, 188km

12: Thursday July 16 – Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille, 195km

13: Friday July 17 – Muret to Rodez, 200km

14: Saturday July 18 – Rodez to Mende, 178km

15: Sunday July 19 – Mende to Valence, 182km

16: Monday July 20 – Bourg de Peage to Gap, 201km

Rest Day

17: Wednesday July 22 – Digne-les-Bains to Pra-Loup, 161km

18: Thursday July 23 – Gap to Saint-Jean de Maurienne, 185km

19: Friday July 24 – Saint-Jean de Maurienne to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles, 138km

20: Saturday July 25 – Modane Valfrejus to Alpe d'Huez, 110km

21: Sunday July 26 – Sevres to Paris, 107km

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Inaugural Women’s Tour de France to start at Eiffel Tower

The route for the inaugural women's Tour de France was unveiled on Thursday with eight stages, embarking from the Eiffel Tower on July 24th next year.

French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race.
French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race. Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP.

The first complete edition of the women’s version of cycling’s iconic race starts on the day the 109th edition of the men’s Tour ends.

After a route that winds through northern France, the race culminates in the Planche des Belles Filles climb in the Vosges mountains.

Danish cyclist Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig said she was over the moon to be taking part.

“I want it to be July now so we can get stared,” she said actually jumping up and down.

“The Tour de France is a reference and when you say you are a cyclist people ask about that. Now I can say I race the Tour de France,” she said after the presentation.

MAP: Details of 2022 Tour de France (and Denmark) revealed

Race director Marion Rousse, a former French cycling champion and now a TV commentator, told AFP it would be a varied course that would maintain suspense over the eight days.

“It is coherent in a sporting sense, and we wanted to start from Paris,” she said of the 1,029km run.

“With only eight stages we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.

“The stages obviously are shorter for the women than for the men’s races. The men can go 225 kilometres. For the women the longest race on our roster is 175km and we even needed special dispensation for that,” she said. “But it’s a course I love.”

Christian Prudhomme, the president of the Tour de France organisers, was equally enthusiastic.

“The fact it sets off from Paris the day the men’s race ends gives the new race a boost because it sets the media up to follow it more easily.

“It also means that with the Tour de France starting on July 1st and the women’s race ending on the 31st, there will be cycling on television every day of July.”

The men’s race is broadcast in around 190 countries.