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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 October 2005, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Tour de France itinerary unveiled
The itinerary for the 2006 Tour de France includes 18 climbs, including a stage on the infamous Alpe d'Huez.

The team time trial is axed and there will be three individual time trials, one on the eve of the final stage.

The 1-23 July race will begin in Strasbourg, head towards Brittany and then on to the Pyrenees.

The race could be decided in week three when the riders tackle Alpe d'Huez on 18 July before a finish at the top of La Toussuire ski resort the next day.

Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc said: "It is a classical, well-balanced course. There are five wonderful mountain stages.

"It is a change of era. A period of long domination is over. There will be [Jan] Ullrich and [Ivan] Basso, and others coming through as well. The path is open. It is an exciting time."

The tour will also visit Pla de Beret, on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, for the first time, for a mountain-top finish.

Strasbourg beat a number of candidates, including London, to host the opening stage and was chosen to coincide with the 2006 World Cup finals in nearby Germany.

We are returning to the climbs of legend like the Galibier, the Izoard and the Alpe d'Huez
Deputy race director Christian Prudhomme

Next year will see a different winner after Lance Armstrong retired following his seventh straight victory this year.

Germany's 1997 winner Jan Ullrich, Italians Ivan Basso and Gilberto Simoni and Spain's Alejandro Valverde are among the riders hoping to succeed the American as the champion.

Basso's Team CSC director, 1996 Tour winner Bjarne Riis, said the new course favoured Ullrich.

"It's a nice Tour for Ullrich I think," Riis said. "Two nice long time trials, and not so hard in the beginning. Basso won't lose a lot [in the time trials], but he'll be competing against Ullrich."

Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc, who steps down after next year's race, said Basso was likely to wear the number one jersey because he finished second last year. Ullrich was third.

Meanwhile, Prudhomme said the decision to scrap the team time trial is a temporary decision due to scheduling difficulties, and that the event will return either in 2007 or 2008.

2006 Tour de France itinerary (1-23 July)

1 July: Prologue in Strasbourg - 7 km
2 July: 1st stage - Strasbourg - Strasbourg - 183 km
3 July: 2nd stage - Obernai - Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg) - 223 km
4 July: 3rd stage - Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg) - Valkenburg (Netherlands) - 216 km
5 July: 4th stage - Huy (Belgium) - Saint-Quentin - 215 km
6 July: 5th stage - Beauvais - Caen - 219 km
7 July: 6th stage - Lisieux - Vitre - 184 km
8 July: 7th stage - Saint-Gregoire - Rennes (individual time trial) - 52 km
9 July: 8th stage - Saint-Meen-le-Grand - Lorient - 177 km
10 July: Rest day in Bordeaux
11 July: 9th stage - Bordeaux - Dax - 170 km
12 July: 10th stage - Cambo-les-Bains - Pau - 193 km
13 July: 11th stage - Tarbes - Val d'Aran, Pla-de-Beret (Spain) 208 km
14 July: 12th stage - Luchon - Carcassonne - 211 km
15 July: 13th stage - Beziers - Montelimar - 231 km
16 July: 14th stage - Montelimar - Gap - 181 km
17 July: Rest day in Gap
18 July: 15th stage - Gap - L'Alpe d'Huez - 187 km
19 July: 16th stage - Le Bourg d'Oisans - La Toussuire - 182 km
20 July: 17th stage - Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - Morzine - 199 km
21 July: 18th stage - Morzine - Macon - 193 km
22 July: 19th stage - Le Creusot - Montceau-les-Mines (individual time trial) - 56 km
23 July: 20th stage - Antony - Paris (Champs-Elysées) - 152 km

The next Lance
26 Jul 05 |  Cycling
2006 Tour to start in Strasbourg
31 Mar 05 |  Cycling
London bids for Tour stages
12 Sep 03 |  Cycling

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