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Last Updated: Friday, 10 February 2006, 08:54 GMT
Le Tour uncovered

On Thursday, Tour de France organisers unveiled the route the 2007 Tour will take through England on 7 and 8 July.

The prologue will be an 8km route from Whitehall, past Buckingham Palace to the finish at The Mall.

Day two of the race - stage one - is a 200km race from Westminster through London's financial district to Canterbury in Kent.

Former Tour de France specialist Chris Boardman, who was one of the peloton's leading riders when the tour last visited English soil in 1994 and a two-time Tour prologue winner, gives BBC Sport an in-depth look at the two stages.

A graphic of the prologue for the 2007 Tour de France

Chris Boardman
Chris Boardman
Former Tour de France cyclist and Olympic champion

One of my first thoughts when I saw the prologue route was how much I'd like to have ridden it - it's just the sort of course that would have suited my riding style.

Looking at it, it's an interesting route - it's fairly traditional for a prologue circuit as it's not particularly technical and, as a result, it will really suit a rider like England's Bradley Wiggins.

It's a very physical course as it's protected from the wind, but only the narrowest of margins will separate the top riders, including Bradley.

With him and David Millar among the top two prologue riders in the world, it could well be billed as an all-British head-to-head.

And the only real obstacle between them and a British one-two will be the massive pressure I anticipate. Everyone will go crazy and the hype will be incredible.

When they board the podium with their feet in the pedals, they need to make sure they don't overcook it with all the anticipation.

The margins are so narrow over the nine minutes it'll take, if you do overcook it your chances of a prologue win and donning the famous yellow jersey [awarded to the leader of the Tour] will instantly disappear.

Having just seen video footage of the time the Tour last came to Britain 12 years ago, it seems like yesterday and has made the memories flood back.

The two stages I experienced - from Dover to Brighton and then a Portsmouth leg - are not dissimilar to the one above and the sheer level of support was astonishing.

Some two to three million people lined the route and I expect double that this time.

Looking at the stage itself, it would have been one I truly hated. I always relished the prologue and actually didn't mind the mountain stages all that much.

It expect it to be on a par with Wimbledon and the Superbowl
On those, you knew what to expect and knew whether you'd have the ability to keep in touch with the best climbers or not.

On week one, and particularly stage one, it's a very dangerous time - everyone's really nervous and on this route in particular there will be some pretty strong crosswinds.

With those two combinations taken into account, the chances of a crash are incredibly high. All the sprinters will be going flat out, particularly as there aren't any real climbs for the peloton to worry about.

Everyone is desperate for a stage win - there's very few opportunities as there are not too many flat stages and many of the sprinters won't make it past the first week, what with the mountains coming up for everyone.

OK, admittedly the British riders don't have great hopes in this event but you can never discount a rider like David Millar on a day like this. He always has that potential for a breakaway and to stun all the riders around.

I'm not sure Britain was completely ready for the Tour 12 years ago. This time round they will be and it'll be a one-off on a par with Wimbledon or, say, the Superbowl. I can't wait.


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