London plans mega Tour start

London has officially announced its plans for hosting the start of the 2007 Tour de France. At a press conference on Thursday, London Mayor Ken Livingstone unveiled the parcours of the 8 km prologue and 200 km first stage. Taking place on July 7, the prologue will be an individual time trial, starting in Whitehall and passing alongside St James Park, by Buckingham Palace, through Green Park and Hyde Park before doubling back and finishing on The Mall. Featuring few corners or climbs, the short stage should produce some high average speeds.

The first stage on July 8 will also begin in London, travelling eastward along the Thames out to Gravesend, before turning south and passing through Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, Tenterden, Ashford, and finishing in Canterbury. The 209 km stage features several small climbs, but should be suited to the sprinters.

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