Col-ossal challenge

Col-ossal challenge for Tour hopefuls
By Eurosport

26/10/2006 at 13:32Updated

Tour de France organisers have devised a fiendish route for the 2007 edition of cycling's most famous race. The number of mountain stages has been upped from five to six, including a tough finish atop the Col de l'Aubisque.

The Col is a formidable peak in the Pyrenees, which features a three-kilometre stretch at an average gradient of 7%, with sections as steep as 13%.

"For the first time in 20 years, the last mountain stage finishes at the summit," said Tour director Christian Preudhomme.

"It will be the toughest stage of the Tour. The yellow jersey holder had better not have a bad day.

"After the Alps, nothing will be decided. We will have the answer later as the difficult stages will reach a crescendo with the summit finish at the Col de l'Aubisque."

Other major features of the race include the prologue in London, prompting Preudhomme to play down security fears following last summer's terrorist attacks.

"London is a big city - it will do everything in its power to make things go smoothly. Every precaution will be taken, as it would for any big event."

The signature final stage that finishes on the Champs Elysees in Paris will include a nod to the 2007 rugby World Cup, which takes place in France next year.

It will begin in Marcoussis, which is home to the French rugby team's training camp.