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
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'