Tour de France: Chris Froome says carnage of cobbles will play big part

Race director defends route and British rider claims risky early stage will be 'exciting'

Chris Froome has returned to his home in Monaco clutching a glass half full in one hand and one half empty in the other. The route of the 2014 Tour de France, well received at its unveiling in Paris, gives him a good chance of defending his title, and claiming a third successive British win, just so long as Froome can survive the "carnage" over the cobbles in the race's first week.

The three-week race will have a strong British flavour, beginning in Leeds on 5 July with a stage that is made for a Mark Cavendish win to give him first possession of a yellow jersey – embroidered with a white rose for the early stages – that Froome remains favourite to be wearing come the procession down the Champs-Elysées 22 days later.

The race looks to favour climbers with 25 ascents and five mountain-top finishes, but it is the fifth stage from Ypres in Belgium to Arenberg with its nine jarring sections, 16 kilometres in all, over the cobbles of northern France that will provide the first significant test and one that has the potential to wreck anybody's race. On the last visit three years ago Bradley Wiggins described it as "carnage" and the danger of a Tour-ending accident on the cobbles is a real one for Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and the other front-runners. It may provide even more of a challenge for the lightweight Nairo Quintana, runner-up to Froome this year.

"Uncertainty is part of the competition," said Christian Prudhomme, the Tour's director. "It would not make sense to avoid the cobbles when we go through northern France."

Froome crashed out of the Paris-Roubaix, which follows the cobbles, when he rode it as a domestique five years ago. "If you know a rider who likes the cobbles, you tell me," he said in Paris. "It's a bit of a risk, there are accidents and mechanical problems that could happen, but it will make the race exciting and begin to sort the race out at an early stage."

Nicolas Portal, Team Sky's sports director, believes the race will favour climbers but that there are enough extras included to bring the necessary unpredictability. He also claimed Froome could handle the cobbles.

"Even though he does not have a beautiful style, Chris is rarely on the ground. He knows how to handle his bike," said Portal. "It's an interesting route. It's good for the pure climbers. They made it spicier."

There is only a solitary day's time trial included, the least for 80 years. An extra one would have suited Froome but the sole race against the clock could nevertheless count in his favour as it comes on the penultimate day and at 33 miles is a long one.

The first of the five major summit finishes takes Froome back to La Planche des Belles Filles, where he won his first stage last year. The race will visit the Vosges, the Alps and the Pyrenees on a clockwise meander around France – visits to Ypres and Verdun are included to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War – with the climb to Hautacam in the Pyrenees looking the most brutal challenge.

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable