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Page last updated at 10:25 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 11:25 UK

Pyrenees will star in 2010 Tour

Alberto Contador with the 2010 route
Contador, who won this year's race, approves the 2010 route

The Tour de France celebrates 100 years since it first ventured into the Pyrenees mountains by including several legendary climbs in the 2010 race.

The Col du Tourmalet will be ridden twice in both directions as the race spends four days in the Bearn region which separates France from Spain.

The race starts in Dutch city Rotterdam with a nine kilometre prologue time trial on Saturday, 3 July.

The following day, the riders leave Rotterdam for Belgian capital Brussels.

Stage four sees the race enter France for the first time, before the course takes the riders on a clockwise ride round the country.

The opening week is traditionally geared towards the sprinters with relatively flat stages and riders such as Britain's Mark Cavendish, who won six stages on this year's Tour, could benefit.

BBC Sport's Peter Scrivener

However, seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong, who is expected to ride for his new team Radio Shack, warned that the opening stages could be fraught with problems.

"It will be a difficult first week in the Netherlands and Belgium with crosswinds and then we hit the cobbles when we get into France," he said.

"It will be nerve-wracking start as you need to be up near the front going over the cobbles because there are lots of crashes."

This year's Tour winner, Spain's Alberto Contador, echoed his American rivals comments, saying: "I'm not the best on cobbles, but I shouldn't lose too much time. I just have to avoid any crashes and hope it doesn't rain."

From stage seven onwards, the race heads for the Jura mountains of eastern France, before going into the Alps and a punishing climb to the summit of Avoriaz.

Following a rest day, the race meanders through south-east France before hitting the Pyrenees in some style.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme said: "In 1910 the Tour witnessed a revolution and invented mountains.

"We had the first climb of over 2,000m up Col du Tourmalet that had bears roaming on the mountains."

Tourmalet features twice in the race, during stages 16 and 17.

On stage 16, the riders must negotiate the legendary quartet of Col de Peyresourde, Col d'Aspin, Col du Tourmalet and Col d'Aubisque on a 196km ride from Bagneres-du-Luchon to Pau.

A rest day follows before the riders attack Tourmalet again in the opposite direction, with the stage finishing at the summit.

Contador added: "This is a tour for climbers. It looks harder than last year, but I like the profile."

Alberto Contador with the 2010 route
Contador, who won this year's race, approves the 2010 route

Armstrong was also in favour of the schedule which sees six of the 21 stages in the mountains, with four other medium mountain stages and three summit finishes.

"The summit finish (at Tourmalet) near the end of the race keeps everyone guessing as to who is going to win and keeps the riders sharp," he said.

"The Tour obviously liked it from last year (when Mont Ventoux was the penultimate stage).

"It is interesting to do Tourmalet twice, but it is an important and historical climb."

A 51km individual time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac precedes the traditional finish, on 25 July, on the Champs-Elysees in the French capital Paris.

2010 Tour de France schedule:
3 July: Prologue - Rotterdam, 8kms (5 miles)
4 July: Stage One - Rotterdam-Brussels, 224km (139 miles)
5 July: Stage Two - Brussels-Spa, 192km (119 miles)
6 July: Stage Three - Wanze-Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, 207km (129 miles)
7 July: Stage Four - Cambrai-Reims, 150km (93 miles)
8 July: Stage Five - Epernay-Montargis, 185km (115 miles)
9 July: Stage Six - Montargis-Gueugnon, 225km (140 miles)
10 July: Stage Seven - Tournus-Station des Rousses, 161km (100 miles)
11 July: Stage Eight - Station des Rousses-Morzine Avoriaz, 189km (117 miles)
12 July: Rest day in Morzine Avoriaz
13 July: Stage Nine - Morzine Avoriaz-Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, 204km (127 miles)
14 July: Stage 10 - Chambery-Gap, 179 kilometers (111 miles)
15 July: Stage 11 - Sisteron-Bourg les Valence, 180km (112 miles)
16 July: Stage 12 - Bourg de Peage-Mende, 210km (130 miles)
17 July: Stage 13 - Rodez-Revel, 195km (121 miles)
18 July: Stage 14 - Revel-Ax 3 Domaines, 184km (114 miles)
19 July: Stage 15 - Pamiers-Bagnes de Luchon, 187km (116 miles)
20 July: Stage 16 - Bagneres de Luchon-Pau, 196km (122 miles)
21 July: Rest day in Pau
22 July: Stage 17 - Pau-Col du Tourmalet, 174km (108 miles)
23 July: Stage 18 - Salies de Bearn-Bordeaux, 190km (118 miles)
24 July: Stage 19 - Bordeaux-Pauillac, individual time trial, 51km (32 miles)
25 July: Stage 20 - Longjumeau-Paris Champs Elysees, 105km (65 miles)
Total: 3,596km (2,234.55 miles)

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see also
Cavendish eyes more Tour success
14 Oct 09 |  Cycling
Contador unfazed by investigation
14 Oct 09 |  Cycling
Testers 'did not favour Astana'
05 Oct 09 |  Cycling
Contador set to stay with Astana
15 Aug 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong to launch new US team
23 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Contador seals 2009 Tour victory
26 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Rotterdam to host start of Tour
11 Dec 08 |  Cycling

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