The 100th Tour de France looks like one of the toughest routes yet devised. Phil Deeker is a man who knows the roads of France better than most. That's because he organises events like the Cent Cols Challenge, a 10-day sportive in the Alps and Pyrenees, and the Tour de Force, a chance for anyone to ride multiple stages of the Grand Tour a week before the pros rocket around it.
Places on the Tour de Force are limited to just 30 places and they are in huge demand. To cater for those wanting to ride a section of the route, they'll be offering ten packages called Tour Tasters of between two and ten days. So you could cherry pick a few nice stages.
With the route of next year's Tour de France revealed (see our announcement article and video here) we pointed a few questions Phil's way for his throughts and observations following the unveiling in Paris
road.cc: What makes the route of 100th race so special?
Phil Deeker: The stages in Corsica will provide race drama right from the outset; the ‘Alpe d’Huez Double’ will see record crowds on that mountain and is an exciting “first ever”; the longest stage ending with an ascension of the Mt Ventoux; a superb finale with a super-hard Alpine Triple (stages18, 19 + 20) another ‘first ever”!
Do you think the route is harder than 2012?
The Alpine Triple looks like the hardest series of stages for years and the second TT is almost makes this a ‘quadruple’! With Corsica and the Ventoux stage , my answer has to be “Yes!”
Just how tough will the mountain stages be?
The Pyrenees stage is actually harder than it looks, but of course the Alps stages will be breathtaking, very literally! Stage 19 has to be the Queen stage, especially on the back of the Alpe d’Huez double! My answer, the Alpine Triple is pretty much as tough as the Tour can get!
Which stage might see the first true move by a GC contender?
Although there will be chances for a climber to don yellow early on, this would probably be too early for any team other than Team Sky to want to carry this responsibility. The real drama will begin (hopefully) on the Ventoux. To take yellow here, just before the second rest day, would be a cool move.
How much impact on the race could the opening stages in Corsica have?
It is very rare to have a couple of stages that favour climbers (stages 2 and 3) in the first week of the Tour. There is a chance for someone (perfect terrain for Thomas Voeckler, for example) to set the race alight and hang on to yellow to the Pyrenees and even beyond. It should certainly grab TV audiences from the start.
Why no final TT on the penultimate stage?
This is a bold departure from the predictable format of recent years. It should make the racing on the final mountainous stages even more exciting. The Tour effectively ends this time on a mountain top which will be far more of a spectacle than a TT, let’s face it!
Does this route favour chances of a second overall win for Britain?
It is too easy to say that because the TT has a less important strategic place in the final stages that the route will not suit Bradley. Maybe Chris Froome will not have to ‘look back’ in 2013?
The mountains seem to be the focus of the end of the Tour. Will there be much drama before then?
The ASO have come to realise that a big mountain top finish is not the only way to create drama at the end of a stage. Some of the ‘flat’ stages have cheeky climbs towards the end that will make things complicated for Cav, but will make for great race-viewing. The pressure to make the race as media-friendly as possible means that every stage has to have some potential for drama.
First started in 2010, Tour de Force is a unique event for those people that have ever wanted to ride the entire route of the Tour de France (without needing a pro contract!). Which will be the most attractive stages for Tour de Force riders?
Corsica will be an obvious bonus in 2013. Although the superb final stages in the Alps will be the most challenging, (and amateurs like to hurt themselves!), the stages that enable riders to discover new regions of France are often just as popular. The stages 10-14, that take the race across France, follow a particularly interesting route in 2013 and offer a slightly tamer option for those who do not feel like taking on the mountains.
As lead cyclist on the Tour de Force, which stages are you looking forward to riding most?
Of course the series of stages in the Alps are my first choice, and Corsica will be a guaranteed treat. But less obvious stages like stages 7 (Montpellier to Albi), 14 (St Pourcain to Lyon) as well as the superb mountain stage in the Pyrenees (stage 9) will not disappoint either. But then the beauty of riding the Tour is that every stage is an unforgettable ride and the ‘easier’ stages often have several ‘surprises’ along the way!
Hot on the heels of the success of the Tour de Force 2012, expectations have been high for the 100th race edition of 2013. Today's announcement will not have disappointed many. As co-organiser and lead cyclist of the Tour de Force Phil now has the task of dividing up the route into sections ("Tour Tasters") that will make exciting, attractive and rewarding challenges in themselves for those not able to ride the whole route.
30 lucky applicants will grab places for the full route at 9am on 7/11 and then the rush will be on for places on these "Tour Tasters". The Corsican package will be popular, as will the Alpine Finale. And what about a weekend away, riding from Tours to the Ventoux? The appeal of these packages is that you get to be part of a mobile bubble of crazy enthusiasm and solidarity, with riders of all abilities helping each other get through the almost-impossible, and all that to raise money for a great cause.
This seems to be the unique appeal of the Tour de Force and, as organiser of the cyclists on the road, is the part I enjoy the most : a constant challenge to manage an ever-changing group dynamic and get everyone through their own personal endeavor, be it taking on two or all of the stages of the Tour de France."
You can find our more here www.tourdeforce.org.uk