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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power