Cycling: Tougher Tour for Armstrong

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The Independent Online

The route of the 2005 Tour de France was announced yesterday, and the changes look set to test the dominance of the reigning champion, Lance Armstrong.

The route of the 2005 Tour de France was announced yesterday, and the changes look set to test the dominance of the reigning champion, Lance Armstrong.

The American has won the last six Tours, but next year's event has fewer intense climbs and only one individual time trial - both categories in which Armstrong excels.

The changes could help the likes of Jan Ullrich and Joseba Belok, though the Tour director, Jean-Marie Leblanc, said: "Don't count on me to make any predictions about the winner. We have been far too disappointed by Lance Armstrong's rivals in 2004."

The 21 stages on the Tour will take 200 riders from the island of Noirmoutier, south of Brittany, to Paris. The route will be clockwise, with a short incursion into Germany.

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