By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Paris
On midday Thursday at Paris' Palais des Congres, the official route of the 2006 Tour de France was unveiled. A classic course according to veteran Tour experts, but also one of the hardest in recent years, the 93rd edition of La Grande Boucle follows an anti-clockwise direction around France, the 20 stages covering some 3,600 kilometres including nine flat stages, five mountain stages, four medium mountain stages and two individual time trials.
ASO President Patrice Clerc opened the proceedings for the big reveal of the 2006 Tour de France with some pointed comments about the race, explaining that, "We want a clean sport, without suspicion and one that conforms to the basic values of sport." Clerc also announced that before the '06 Tour, WADA would be increasing the number of out of competition testing for the Tour De France riders. "A lot of work has been done by the UCI up to now", stated Clerc, "But more needs to be done."
Clerc also addressed the recent changing at the guard at the UCI by saying, "We believe that we need to respect the basic values of the sport of cycling and the ProTour has not done that. That's why the Grand Tour organizers have chosen to stay out." But Clerc left the door open to working with new UCI President McQuaid, saying, "We still think (the Grand Tour organizers) and the UCI can find a way to work together."