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23 October 2013, 06:00
The full route for the 2014 Tour de France, which includes a stage in Cambridge has been announced.
Defending champion Chris Froome is bracing himself for a bumpy ride.
Froome followed first British winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 champion, into the yellow jersey in July with a peerless climbing performance and three stage wins.
The 28-year-old Kenya-born Team Sky rider is sure to begin the 2014 edition as favourite, but he is concerned about the rumours that the Tour will return to the cobbles of northern France used for fabled one-day race Paris-Roubaix.
The 2010 Tour included a spectacular stage to Arenberg, when Geraint Thomas was second to Thor Hushovd, but a number of podium contenders' races ended on a day described as "carnage'' by Wiggins.
"It's the unknown factor that worries me about cobbles, not necessarily being dropped,'' Froome told Cycling News last week.
"What worries me about cobbles are the crashes, the mechanical problems.
A mechanical problem in the wrong moment of the race when things are kicking off could lead to you losing the Tour.
I'm not a big fan of that.''
If a cobbled stage is confirmed, it could come soon after the transfer from the UK to France.
The confirmed route will be unveiled at the Palais des Congres today, but what is already known is that the 101st edition of cycling's most prestigious race will begin in Leeds on July 5.
It will be the fourth time the race has visited the UK and first since 2007, when a Westminster prologue was followed by a stage through Kent.
Previous visits were in 1974 and 1994.
The opening stage to Harrogate is expected to end in a sprint, giving Mark Cavendish, 25 times a Tour stage winner, the chance to take the race leader's yellow jersey in his mother's home town.
The second, hilly stage is from York to Sheffield and could shake up the general classification standings, before another stage which is expected to end in a sprint, the third stage from Cambridge to The Mall in central London.
It will be intriguing if Tour organisers Amaury Sports Organisation decide to repeat the night finish on the Champs-Elysees for the final stage, on July 27, after using floodlights on the famous boulevard for the first time last summer to mark the conclusion of the 100th edition of the race.
The winner of the yellow jersey will be determined by the time of the concluding stage in Paris by results over the Alps and Pyrenees and in the time-trials.
Froome showed his time-trial ability and climbing strength in the 2013 Tour and will face attacks from his rivals over the 21 days of racing. ends.