Froome faces tough defense in treacherous 2014 Tour

Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:10am EDT
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - Britain's Chris Froome must successfully navigate a number of traps lurking around a tricky 2014 Tour de France route if he is to retain his title in cycling's most prestigious stage race.

Starting in northern England on July 5, the Tour features stretches of cobbled roads in northern France, a treacherous crossing of the Vosges mountains and only one time trial - a favorite discipline of Team Sky leader Froome.

"Uncertainty is part of the competition," Tour director Christian Prudhomme told reporters when asked about the cobbled sections, which could turn the fifth stage into a lottery.

"It would not make sense to avoid the cobbles when we go through northern France," he added.

But Froome told reporters: "If you know a rider who likes the cobbles, you tell me.

"The race will be tight and the time trial is a good way to end it."

Team Sky sports director Nicolas Portal told Reuters: "It's an interesting route, anything can happen, we'll have to be careful. It's good for the pure climbers. They (the organizers) made it spicier.

"It is going to be an intense battle every day on every terrain."   Continued...