The 2011 Tour de France will celebrate 100 years in the Alps on a route best suited to climbers, with Col du Galibier making two appearances in two days.
The 2011 Tour de France will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Tour in the Alps with a showcase of mountain cycling.
The Col du Galibier will be climbed twice, including a 2,645m summit finish on July 21 for the 18th stage – the highest finish in the Tour’s history. The Alpe d’Huez will host a summit finish the following day – the same day the Galibier is climbed for the second time.
Of the 21 stages, only eight will suit sprinters. There is only one individual time trial – 41 kilometres in Grenoble on the penultimate day – while the only team time trial will cover a completely flat 23km in Brittany on the second day.
There will six mountain stages – including four summit finishes – and three medium mountain stages. There will be some 23 level 2 or harder mountain passes or summit finishes.
The Tour will start in the Vendée department of Pays de la Loire on Saturday, July 2, with riders parading across the and ride across the Passage du Gois causeway from Ile de Noirmoutie to the mainland prior to the official race start. It will finish 3,471km later on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Rest days will be held on July 11 in Le Lioran Cantal in the Central Massif area of the Auvergne region, and on July 18 in the Drôme department of the Rhône-Alpes.
Three-time winner Spaniard Alberto Contador will return to defend the yellow jersey after being cleared of doping allegations following his 2010 Tour win.
He’ll be challenged again by Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck, who came within 39 seconds of Contador last year, and fell just short of a rare yellow-white jersey double. The Italian rider Ivan Basso should also figure prominently, having returned from a two-year drugs ban to win this year’s Giro d'Italia.
The Official 2011 Tour de France programme is now out. It's packed with profiles of each team, route maps, book extracts and a DVD of highlights from the 2010 race.