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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Tour de France revamped for 2008
Tour de France 2007 winner Alberto Contador
Spain's Alberto Contador won the crisis-hit Tour this year
The Tour de France has been given a major overhaul for 2008 as organisers try to revamp the tarnished race.

Time bonuses have been scrapped and for the first time since 1966 the race will not start with a solo time trial, but with a 195km stage to open the Tour.

A brutal climb up L'Alpe d'Huez follows ahead of the showpiece finish in Paris.

"We want the Tour to rediscover its romanticism," said Tour director Christian Prudhomme. "It means the plot will not be obvious."

Last year's Tour was hit by doping scandals, with Michael Rasmussen and Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov notably kicked out of the race.

The changes to the Tour's opening have been designed to give more riders rather than just time-trial experts the chance to compete for the leader's coveted yellow jersey from the very start.

We want the Tour to rediscover its romanticism

Tour de France director Jean-Francois Pescheux

Time bonuses being abandoned could lead to a tighter and more dramatic Tour, especially in the high mountains where decisive gaps between riders are often built early on.

Competition director Jean-Francois Pescheux said: "The first week will not necessarily be the exclusive property of the sprinters.

"The end of the first stage, for example, is a two-kilometre slope. So a great finisher can win but also a sprinter or a rider who broke away earlier in the stage."

The competitors will also scale Europe's highest mountain pass; the 2,802-metre Col de la Bonette-Restefond.

It was last climbed by the Tour in 1993 and is one of 19 major mountain passes that riders will clamber over - two less than in 2007.

The Tour begins on 5 July and will cover 3,550 kilometres (2,200 miles), with 21 stages and two rest days.


The two time trials will be on day four and the penultimate day, to establish the finishing order before the race concludes with its habitual processional ride to the Champs-Elysees on 27 July.

No rider will be allowed to start next year without agreeing to take part in a series of tests that will allow drug-testers to build a blood profile for each athlete.

If follow-up tests show significant changes to that profile - which could be caused by drug use - riders may be barred from racing.

Prudhomme called the measures "real progress in the fight against doping".

Teams are also no longer guaranteed entry, even if they are in possession of a ProTour license.

BBC Radio 5live's Peter Slater commented: "That could cause problems for the Astana squad, who left in disgrace last summer after their star rider Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive."

Astana have signed 2007 winner Alberto Contador.

Jean-Francois Pescheux, another senior Tour official, added: "We're setting off with good hope. We have to, because otherwise cycling is heading for catastrophe.

"If the 2008 season is a repeat of 2007 and 2006, it's the end of cycling and I think everyone is aware of that."

2008 Tour de France schedule:

5 July: stage 1 - Brest - Plumelec, 195 km
6 July: stage 2 - Auray - Saint-Brieuc, 165 km
7 July: stage 3 - Saint-Malo - Nantes, 165 km
8 July: stage 4 - Cholet - Cholet, 29 km (individual time trial)
9 July: stage 5 - Cholet - Chateauroux, 230 km
10 July: stage 6 - Aigurande - Super-Besse, 195 km
11 July: stage 7 - Brioude - Aurillac, 158 km
12 July: stage 8 - Figeac - Toulouse, 174 km
13 July: stage 9 - Toulouse - Bagneres-de-Bigorre, 222 km
14 July: stage 10 - Pau - Hautacam, 154 km
15 July: rest day
16 July: stage 11 - Lannemezan - Foix, 166 km
17 July: stage 12 - Lavelanet - Narbonne, 168 km
18 July: stage 13 - Narbonne - Nimes, 182 km
19 July: stage 14 - Nimes - Digne-les-Bains, 182 km
20 July: stage 15 - Digne-les-Bains - Prato Nevoso (Italy), 216 km
21 July: rest day
22 July: stage 16 - Cuneo - Jausiers, 157 km
23 July: stage 17 - Embrun - L'Alpe-d'Huez, 210 km
24 July: stage 18 - Bourg-d'Oisans - Saint-Etienne, 197 km
25 July: stage 19 - Roanne - Montlucon, 183 km
26 July: stage 20 - Cerilly - Saint-Amand-Montrond, 53 km (individual time trial)
27 July: stage 21 - Etampes - Paris Champs-Elysees, 143 km

Contador insists he is drug-free
10 Aug 07 |  Cycling
London starts Tour return talks
31 Jul 07 |  Cycling
Contador wins tainted 2007 Tour
29 Jul 07 |  Cycling


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