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Tour de France

’09 Tour route will be revealed on Wednesday

Tour de France organizers will finally end months of waiting on Wednesday by unveiling the route that they hope will provide another exciting, albeit cleaner, race for the famous yellow jersey. In the months since Spaniard Carlos Sastre claimed overall victory, seven riders - including KOM winner Bernhard Kohl and stage winners Ricardo Riccò, Leonardo Piepoli and Stefan Schumacher - have been exposed as drugs cheats. However a bigger question on the minds of some fans will be whether seven-time champion Lance Armstrong will take part.

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By Agence France Presse

Will the Tour go up the Ventoux on the penultimate day in 2009? We sure hope so.

Will the Tour go up the Ventoux on the penultimate day in 2009? We sure hope so.

Photo: Agence France Presse

Tour de France organizers will finally end months of waiting on Wednesday by unveiling the route that they hope will provide another exciting, albeit cleaner, race for the famous yellow jersey.

In the months since Spaniard Carlos Sastre claimed overall victory, seven riders – including KOM winner Bernhard Kohl and stage winners Ricardo Riccò, Leonardo Piepoli and Stefan Schumacher – have been exposed as drugs cheats.

However a bigger question on the minds of some fans will be whether seven-time champion Lance Armstrong will take part.

After recently announcing he is coming out of retirement, the 37-year-old American has since placed a question mark on whether he will participate in next July’s epic, which begins in the Principality of Monaco.

Tune in on Wednesday for Live Streaming Video of the 2009 Tour Presentation.
Coverage begins at 5:30 a.m. (Eastern Time in the U.S.)
“Before I announced my return, I contacted the organizers, but they didn’t respond,” Armstrong said recently. “Is it possible they wouldn’t invite me to the Tour? Anything is possible, but it would be incredible. I want to be in Paris, but in a serene situation.”

Last week Armstrong confirmed he would definitely race the Giro d’Italia, which is held a month before the Tour, for the first time.

That has placed doubts on whether he would race the Tour, and if he did whether he would race for the yellow jersey or as a key support rider for his future teammate at Astana, Alberto Contador.

Some fans believe Armstrong is incapable of racing as a support rider, however Contador – at first peeved by Armstrong signing for his team – has in recent days confirmed he would not leave Astana.

Contador, the 2007 Tour de France champion, recently made history when he added this year’s Vuelta a España crown to his Giro d’Italia title from June this year.

According to Tour organizers he will be among the past three winners of the race to be present Wednesday when Prince Albert of Monaco helps Tour director Christian Prudhomme unveil next July’s race route.

He will be sitting alongside countrymen Oscar Pereiro and Carlos Sastre, respectively the winners in 2006 and 2008.

It appears – according to reports on some websites – there are few secrets left concerning next year’s race route.

Beginning in Monaco with a possibly hilly time trial, the first week will be a mixture of flat and hilly stages with, notably, a finish in Barcelona likely on stage six.

From just outside Barcelona the race will head up to the first summit finish in Andorra, before another difficult day of climbing in the Pyrenees on stage seven.

A combination of flat and rolling stages could lead the peloton through the south-west of France and up towards the plains surrounding Bordeaux. Limoges is being touted as the race’s first rest day, with a possible transfer that will take the race towards Colmar in the east of France.

Although yet to be confirmed, a slightly unusual final week could see the peloton tackle a few more summit finishes in the Alps, with a second time trial being touted around the Lake of Annecy.

The biggest speculation surrounds rumors that the Tour will tackle the difficult climb to the summit of Mont Ventoux on stage 20, just one day before the race would finish in Paris.

Check in for a complete report and route description from VeloNews European correspondent Andrew Hood, who will be reporting from Paris on Wednesday.