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How the centennial Tour may look

Ever since the organizers of the Tour de France decided four years agothat the centennial Tour in 2003 would include the same cities that therace visited in 1903, people have been speculating where the rest of therace would go. You see, the original Tour had only six stages (albeit verylong ones) and had no mountain climbs.Today, there are 20 stages, in addition to the prologue, which meansthat there are at least 14 other stage towns at next year’s Tour.The official route is being announced Thursday, but an early clueto the 90th Tour de France’s course came four weeks ago, when the

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By John Wilcockson

The official invitation to Thursday's announcement

The official invitation to Thursday’s announcement

Photo:

Ever since the organizers of the Tour de France decided four years agothat the centennial Tour in 2003 would include the same cities that therace visited in 1903, people have been speculating where the rest of therace would go. You see, the original Tour had only six stages (albeit verylong ones) and had no mountain climbs.Today, there are 20 stages, in addition to the prologue, which meansthat there are at least 14 other stage towns at next year’s Tour.The official route is being announced Thursday, but an early clueto the 90th Tour de France’s course came four weeks ago, when the Frenchnational TV chain, France 2, revealed that the race would start with aprologue around its Paris headquarters next July 5. It also gave a roughindication of where the rest of the race would go.Tour organizer ASO was annoyed by the TV station’s revelations and issueda statement the next day saying that “the incomplete or inexact detailscould spread confusion.” Well, we decided to add to the confusion (or fun?)by filling in the gaps, based on other information and the fact that today’sTours normally include two rest days, a team time trial and two individualtime trials.This is the possible course that VeloNews has come up with. We’llfind out Thursday whether we were close.POSSIBLE ROUTE OF THE 2003 TOUR DE FRANCE(1903 stage towns in bold type)Prologue in Paris
(Time trial around the Maison de la Radio in west part of city.)Stage 1 Paris – Meaux
(Start outside Stade de France in northern suburbs, crossing Paristo real start in southeast suburb of Montgeron, where first Tour began.)Stage 2 La Ferté-sous-Jouarre – Sedan
(A rolling stage from east side of Paris up to the Belgian border.)Stage 3 Charleville-Mézières – St. Dizier
(A day for the sprinters to a first-time stage town)Stage 4 Joinville – Chaumont (TTT)
(A similar rolling route as 2002’s team time trial)Stage 5 Chaumont – Nevers
(A hilly run into central France)Stage 6 Nevers – Lyon
(The 1903 arrived here from Paris in one 17-hour stage. This onecomes after a week.)Stage 7 Lyon – Morzine
(A pre-alpine stage through the hills of the Jura)Stage 8 Morzine – L’Alpe d’Huez
(The Alpe saw the Tour’s first mountaintop finish in 1952)Rest day at L’Alpe d’Huez
(A traditional place to kick back)Stage 9 Bourg d’Oisans – (Galibier) – Briançon
(The Galibier was the Tour’s first major alpine climb in 1911)Stage 10 Briançon – (Izoard) – Gap
(The Izoard is another legendary alpine climb)Stage 11 Gap – Marseille
(Marseille is the second of the original stage towns)Stage 12 Montpellier – Toulouse
(One for the sprinters)Stage 13 Gaillac – Cap’Découverte (TT)
(Hilly time trial to a dramatic new leisure park)Stage 14 Albi – Plateau de Bonascre (Ax-les-Thermes)
(Through Pyrénées foothills to summit finish usedin 2001)Rest day in Tarascon-Foix area
(Time for another break)Stage 15 St. Girons – (Tourmalet) – Hautacam
(A mountaintop finish could be here or at Luz-Ardiden)Stage 16 Bagnères-de-Bigorre – (Aubisque) – Dax
(The Aubisque was one of the original mountain climbs in 1910)Stage 17 Bayonne – Bordeaux
(Up the coast to a famous sprinters’ venue)Stage 18 Bordeaux – St. Maixent-l’École
(The calm before the final time trial)Stage 19 Pornic – Nantes (TT)
(The Atlantic winds should be favorable for what could be the fastest-everTour TT)Stage 20 Ville d’Avray – Paris (Champs-Elysées)
(The first Tour ended at Ville d’Avray in the Paris suburbs)