What's Cool In Road Cycling

2003 Tour France: #5 For Lance?

Well now we know…

The Society has announced it’s route for 2003 and it is absolutely, uh nothing special… Although it is the centennial tour, and is accompanied by a new book from L’ Equipe and a cartoon for the kids, it has basically been left alone. That’s probably for the better, as one would hate that the Tour be decided on an attempt to run off a stage in the old fashion at 3-400 km…

Map Source:Le Tour Website

In the words of the organizers, they decided they did not want to, “change it, to break its balance and its logic which give it its credibility: there will be no more mountain stages than usual, no less time trials than usual; no excessively long distances or untimely difficulties. All is measure and reason. This is what we expect of the Tour de France today, in the straight line of sporting ethics, that should not be provoked in favour of the attraction of the show alone.”

So the Tour will visit the original route and include Paris (start and finish) Lyon (stage 6 finish, 7 start), Marseilles, Toulouse (stage 13 start), Bordeaux (stage 17 finish, 18 start) and Nantes (stage 19 finish).

Climbing will be featured in stages 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15 and 16. The first real test will come on stage 8 with the finish atop L’Alpe d’ Huez with approach over Col du Tйlйgraphe and Col du Galibier. Stage 9 covers the Lautaret and Izoard, but is then generally down hill. The other mountain top finishes come on stages 13 and 15 with only the finish at Luz Ardiden looking to be decisive with a tough run up.

The Time Trials are on stages 4 ( 68km ttt), 12 (48.5 km) and 19 (49km) and it will be business as usual here with rest days

The team selection is as follows:

14 teams automatically selected at the end of October, 2002 according to the UCI classification drawn up at the end of the season; the organizers will attribute 4 wild cards at the end of January 2003, after the registration of new sporting groups; finally, 4 more wild cards will be attributed in mid May 2003 which will take into account the sporting results obtained by the potential teams.

Note that the selection controversy will continue. The big change is 8 wild card selections, with the last 4 coming just a month and a half before the tour. Given the preparation necessary and the fact that 4 teams will get no usable notice, you can count on as just as much controversy this year as in the past. Hopefully, the first 4 wild cards will go to deserving teams and the last four will be given to the standard French picks that typically would not benefit from advanced notice anyway.

The Stages 2003 Tour de France
Prologue, Saturday, July 5: Paris, 8km
Stage 1, Sunday, July 6: Saint-Denis/Montgeron – Meaux, 160km
Stage 2, Monday, July 7: La Fertй-sous-Jouarre – Sedan, 195km
Stage 3, Tuesday, July 8: Charleville-Mйziиres – Saint-Dizier, 160km
Stage 4, Wednesday, July 9: Joinville – Saint-Dizier team time trial, 68km
Stage 5, Thursday, July 10: Troyes – Nevers, 196km
Stage 6, Friday, July 11: Nevers – Lyon, 230km
Stage 7, Saturday, July 12: Lyon – Morzine, 226.5km
Stage 8, Sunday, July 13: Sallanches – L’Alpe d’Huez, 211km
Stage 9, Monday July 14: Bourg d’Oisans – Gap, 184.5km
Stage 10, Tuesday, July 15: Gap – Marseille, 195km
Wednesday, July 16: Rest Day
Stage 11, Thursday, July 17: Narbonne – Toulouse, 160km
Stage 12, Friday, July 18: Gaillac – Cap’ Dйcouverte Time Trial, 48.5km
Stage 13, Saturday, July 19: Toulouse (Citй de l’Espace) – Plateau de Bonascre, 197.5km
Stage 14, Sunday, July 20: Saint-Girons – Loudenvielle, 191.5km
Stage 15, Monday, July 21: Bagnиres-de-Bigorre – Luz-Ardiden, 159.5km
Tuesday, July 22: Rest Day
Stage 16, Wednesday, July 23: Pau – Bayonne, 197.5km
Stage 17, Thursday, July 24: Dax – Bordeaux, 165km
Stage 18, Friday, July 25: Bordeaux – Saint-Maixent-l’Ecole, 200km
Stage 19, Saturday, July 26: Pornic – Nantes Time Trial, 49km
Stage 20, Sunday, July 27: Ville d’Avray – Paris Champs-Elysйes, 160km
Total : 3,350km

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