Sports Listings / Plan Ahead: Cycling: Tour de France in Britain

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The Independent Online
For the first time in 20 years, and fittingly in view of the 50th anniversary of D-Day, the Tour de France is visiting Britain.

Miguel Indurain, of Spain, will be attempting to emulate Jacques Anquetil, of France, and Belgium's Eddy Merckx by winning the event for a fourth consecutive year. His toughest opponent is again likely to be Toni Romiger, of Switzerland, who finished second last year and is in fine form as he demonstrated in winning last month's Tour of Spain.

The Tour begins on 2 July in Lille with the prologue. After the first two stages in northern France, the riders cross the English Channel on 5 July. There are two stages, the fourth and fifth, in England, from Dover to Brighton on 6 July and the following day around Hampshire, starting and finishing in Portsmouth. Both stages will provide many excellent vantage points for spectators.

The Kent-Sussex stage starts from Dover Castle at 10.45am. The riders go to Folkestone and Hythe (A20) before heading north to Canterbury (B2068). They turn south to Ashford (A28) and then west to Tunbridge Wells (B262) before going via Crowborough and Maresfield to Burgess Hill and on to Brighton (B2112), taking in Ditchling Beacon, to finish at 4.0.

After the brief overnight trip to Portsmouth, the Tour embarks on the next stage from Southsea Esplanade at 10.45am. The route takes the riders up Portsdown Hill, which is counting as a King of the Mountains section. From there they go to Bishop's Waltham (B2177) and then take minor roads across the Downs to join the A272. The peleton passes through Winchester and heads north-west to Andover (B3420 and A3057) before cutting across the Test Valley to Basingstoke (B3400).

They head south-east to Alton (A339) and on to Peterfield (A32 and B2146). The route takes them briefly into West Sussex and then back into Hampshire at Rowland's Castle and on to Havant (B2149) before returning to Portsmouth (B2177).

After a brief flight to Normandy the Tour resumes its French itinerary with the sixth stage from Cherbourg to Rennes. The riders spend the second half largely in the mountains taking in the Pyrenees on stages 11 and 12, and the Alps from stages 15-20 before embarking by rail to EuroDisney for the final leg to Paris.

For those wishing to attend the French stages of the Tour, Sporting Tours of West Yorkshire still have a number of packages on offer, which provide for bicycles to be taken. They include a week covering the stages from Lille to Portsmouth at pounds 289.00, a package covering all the mountain stages (11- 23 July) for pounds 499.00 and the Alpine stages (16-24 July) at pounds 369.00.

Tour De France, starts Lille, 2 July, finishes Paris, 24 July.

Sporting Tours, 21 Manor Gardens, Pool-in-Wharfedale, near Otley, West Yorkshire LS21 1NB (Tel: 0532-843617.)

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