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Rock slide risk prompts Tour change

A heightened threat of rock fall on one mountain pass has forced Tour de France organizers to alter the route of a stage in this year’s edition. The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) announced Wednesday that the 15th stage of the 2008 Tour would now start from Embrun, rather than Digne-les-Bains, and feature the 2744m Agnel climb before arriving in Prato Nevoso in Italy. The stage was originally to have included the ascent at Larche but that is now being avoided due to the "very high" risk of rock fall, ASO noted in a press release.

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By Agence France Presse

A heightened threat of rock fall on one mountain pass has forced Tour de France organizers to alter the route of a stage in this year’s edition.

The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) announced Wednesday that the 15th stage of the 2008 Tour would now start from Embrun, rather than Digne-les-Bains, and feature the 2744m Agnel climb before arriving in Prato Nevoso in Italy.

The stage was originally to have included the ascent at Larche but that is now being avoided due to the “very high” risk of rock fall, ASO noted in a press release.

“The risk of rock fall on around four kilometers of the circuit has been known for a few months and all the parties concerned have tried to come up with a solution,” ASO added.

The new route of around 185km is about 30km shorter than the original for the stage on July 20, with Embrun also being used as the start of stage 17 on July 23.