Time trialists cut short

In a change from last year's success story of the London prologue, the 2008 Tour de France will kick off without its usual short time trial to establish a first distinct general classification. Instead, the riders will head from Brest over 195 kilometres to Plumelec, in Brittany. Time trial specialists will be disappointed to find the first contre-la-montre short, with only 29 kilometres. The second time trial, on the penultimate day of the race, is 53 kilometres long. No team time trial will be part of the route, but the monument of Alpe d'Huez is back in the mix. Climbers will be elated that four mountain top finishes are featuring in the 2008 version.

Le Grand Départ returns to Brest after 34 years. Brittany will see an extended Tour this year, with several hundred kilometres spent in the Northwestern part of the country. After the time trial in Cholet on stage four it is off to the first mountain top in Super Besse, on stage 6. After a few more southbound transitional stages the peloton will hit the mountains.

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