The 45th edition of the Tour de l'Avenir gets underway Chalette-sur-Loing, south of Paris, on Friday. Starting with a 7.5km prologue, the U23 stage race will see the riders head south over France's central mountain range and finish in the Pyrenees.
A total of 1386,5 kilometres will have to be mastered for the 19 national teams, each including 6 riders. The event will end in Mirepoix on September 15, one day after the race's queen stage passing over the difficult climbs of Port de Lers and Col d'Agnes.
The race organised by Tour de France company ASO is part of the UCI U23 Nations Cup and came back last year to a formula involving national teams, as it had been featuring from 1962-1980. The event was a testing ground for several later Tour de France winners such as Felice Gimondi, Joop Zoetemelk, Greg LeMond and Miguel Indurain. Last year, the race was won by Dutchman Bauke Mollema.
The 2008 stages are:
Prologue - September 5: Chalette-sur-Loing - Chalette-sur-Loing, 7.5km
Stage 1 - September 6: Chalette-sur-Loing - Avallon, 131km
Stage 2 - September 7: Vézelay - Commentry, 195.5km
Stage 3 - September 8: Néris-les-Bains - Saint-Symphorien-sur-Coise, 207km
Stage 4 - September 9: Saint-Symphorien-sur-Coise - Saint-Flour, 181.5km
Stage 5 - September 10: Saint-Flour - Carmaux, 212.5km
Stage 6 - September 11: Blaye-les-Mines - Blaye-les-Mines (ITT), 21km
Stage 7 - September 12: Saint-Juéry - Revel (Saint-Ferréol), 135.5km
Stage 8 - September 13: Revel - Guzet, 150.5km
Stage 9 - September 14: Seix - Mirepoix, 144.5km
Click here for more information and a full start list of the Tour de l'Avenir.