Froome wants Tour win for Sky's 10th birthday gift

Froome wants Tour win for Sky's 10th birthday gift

Next year's 3460km route includes a record 30 mountain passes - climbs rated category two or higher - and five summit finishes, but Prudhomme noted there were fewer hors categorie climbs - the hardest ranking of all - than in previous years with the goal to encourage attacks on more punchy roads.

"I'm disappointed there isn't more time trialling, I thought there would be, and those five summit finishes mark this out".

Froome is Sky's regular team leader but Welshman Thomas was a protected rider this year and won his maiden Tour.

And the 2019 Tour champion will be known after the 33.4km time trial up to the finish at Val Thorens, at an altitude of 2,365m.

It is likely to suit Team Sky and their ability to control the peloton through the mountains as they seek to win their seventh yellow jersey in eight years following Geraint Thomas's triumph in July, but the frequency of category-two climbs are meant to invite attacks which might unsettle the British team's grip, which has been unrelenting in recent years.

Route designer Thierry Gouvenou, however, said he felt Thomas's teammate and four-time champion Froome may be stronger next year.

"Mark Cavendish, the greatest sprinter in Tour history, showed a year ago the attitude our sprinters have", he said. "I haven't even seen the route for the Giro yet", he said. "It's got a bit of everything in it with some very high climbs indeed being the first thing that comes to mind", he said.

The route for next July was announced in Paris yesterday.

Froome added that he is looking forward to returning to La Planche des Belles Filles, on stage 6, where he won his first Tour de France stage in 2012.

Merckx and other five-time winners Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain will be in the Belgian capital for the grand depart. Though he missed out on making that step in this year's race, he will be one of the favourites heading into the 2019 event. The peloton will then swing past the Tignes dam and start a 7.5km climb before a final, flat kilometer rounds out the stage in the thin mountain air.

July 19 -Stage 13: Pau - Pau time-trial As the only individual time-trial on the 2019 edition, this 27km loop around Pau is the specialists' only chance to make their mark, while the weaker riders against the clock could be tempted to put too much into it.

The victor will likely be decided by the end of stage 20 on the final 33.4km climb up to Val Thorens, before the 106th Tour culminates in its usual grand finale on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on July 28, setting off from Rambouillet.

The final three stages before the procession to Paris all feature tough Alpine climbing.

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