The 2013 Tour de France will be announced October 24. What would you like to see?
There’s a number of rumors, mostly voiced in Belgian corners, as always, that the 2013 edition of the Tour de France will be something different entirely. As Boldy Predicted in August, the 100th Tour de France is going to go down as the most memorable in the history of the race. Expect to see Mount Ventoux, the Tourmalet, the Col de la Croix de Fer, and almost certainly the Alpe d’Huez. Now, it’s rumored (and somewhat unprofessionally reported) that the race will not only go up the 21 switcbacked Alpe d’Huez, and not only go up said climb twice, but may even finish the entire Tour atop the climb. Color me surprised.
The Tour has only been finishing on the Champs Elysees since 1975, when the tradition of sipping champagne en route the capitol began and the peloton only raced the circuits in Paris. But pressure from fans expecting a huge race in 2013, plus the Tour’s competition with other Grand Tours may change that forever. Neither the Giro or the Vuelta have a stage dedicated in large part to celebration, and their final stages have routinely been highly dramatic. While the Tour has always tried to make the pentultimate stage exciting with either a time trial or mountain stage (think Mount Ventoux in 2009, or most Stage 20 time trials), the last day has been under 80 miles and only raced for about 30.
Perhaps it is Mark Cavendish’s four straight wins on the Champs that have helped to move the Tour’s new plan along. The Manxman’s dominance has been historic, but it leaves room for more options. We won’t know until October 24 if the double climb of Alpe d’Huez is for real, but I’d be willing to put money on the race not finishing in Paris for the first time in nearly forty years. What you will see is an amazing final week that should feature some high summit finishes tailor-made for the likes of Chris Froome, Teejay Vangarderen and Janez Brajkovic. And with any luck, we will be treated to renewed, spindly hostilities between Alberto Contador and a healed Andy Schleck. Mount Ventoux Friday, the Alpe on Sunday with the Col Route (Madeleine, de Fer, et al.) on Saturday. Write it down.