Slow fuse ignites Prudhomme's third Tour

The recently announced 2009 Tour de France route gives interest from start to finish, and should be...

The recently announced 2009 Tour de France route gives interest from start to finish, and should be free of any lull in the action from Monaco to Paris. Procycling's editor Peter Cossins compares the parcours to another Grand Tour, and thinks it will have a slow fuse which will ignite the fireworks on the penultimate stage.

The 2009 Tour de France is only the third that Christian Prudhomme has devised since taking over from Jean-Marie Leblanc as race director in 2006, but during that short period Prudhomme has quickly established a reputation for innovation that has helped reinvigorate a race that had become all too predictable in its presentation.

Having previously done away with the team time trial and, last year, the prologue, next year's offers yet more changes - or at least it does to those not overly familiar with the sadistic nature of the route of most editions of the Giro d'Italia.

While it's far from unusual for the Tour to have a number of its key stages during its final week, it is almost unheard of for the Grande Boucle to have the sting in its tail that Prudhomme announced in Paris's Palais des Congrès last week. The rumours of the return of the Ventoux to the Tour after an absence of seven years were widespread, but no one had an inkling about how it was going to be served up; the odds would have been extreme on it appearing as the race's final summit finish on the penultimate day of the race.

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