Britons Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish will be battling for two top classifications in the 2010 Tour de France – the yellow leader's jersey for Wiggins, the green points jersey for Cavendish – on far harder terrain than in this year's race.
Great Britain had their most successful Tour de France this summer, with Londoner Wiggins finishing fourth overall, while Cavendish was the undisputed king of the sprints, winning a staggering six stages.
And in 2010, despite four gruelling Pyrenean stages, with a double climb of the daunting Tourmalet ascent the race's highlight, there is much optimism that Wiggins and Cavendish can achieve even more.
"The idea is that Bradley will be going for the win," Jonathan Vaughters, Wiggins's team manager at Garmin-Slipstream, said at the presentation of next year's race route here in the French capital yesterday. "He made a massive improvement this year, and the key now will be if he improves his climbing skills even more. Bradley only struggled on one stage in the mountains last July, and so getting that last one per cent out of him on the big climbs will be crucial."
Vaughters was also optimistic about Wiggins' chances of taking yellow in the opening prologue, a flat eight km (five mile) run through the streets of Rotterdam. But he was equally upbeat about the Londoner's chances of ending the race in that colour, too.
"This year he was very, very close to the best, and the good news is he's not reached the peak of his abilities yet," Vaughters said.
Cavendish, too, was bullish about his chances of becoming Britain's first green jersey winner in 2010. "For sure I know I can win it," Cavendish said. "I'll go with the theory I'm going to win as much as I can and hopefully the green jersey will come as a result. It should have come this year, so I'll go for it again."
Cavendish agreed with Vaughters that the Tour 2010 was "really hard, far harder than this year," something that was not lost, either, on Dave Brailsford, the team principal for new top-flight British squad Sky.
"You have to be on top of your game all the time, there are tough stages all through," Brailsford said, "but the Pyrenees will be the key."
Currently gunning for an invitation for Team Sky, Brailsford said: "We've got a big job to do, we've got to put in some strong performances early on in the season to show we deserve to be there. Just taking part in itself would be a fantastic thing."
Wiggins and Cavendish, meanwhile, are aiming far higher.Reuse content