Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins has described the route for the 2013 Tour de France as a ‘tough one’ as riders got their first glimpse of the course.
British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme riders Wiggins, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish were all present at the official presentation for the 100th Tour de France which revealed the 3,360km parcours.
The route features two individual time-trials and one team time-trial as well as four summit finishes – the race beginning for the first time on the Mediterranean island of Corsica on Saturday 29 June and ending with a final stage from Versailles, arriving in the French capital for an evening finish.
"It's hard to gauge what the course is like by purely looking at the stage graphics, but it's going to be a tough one,” Wiggins, the first Briton to win the Tour, told TeamSky.com. “The Tour's never easy and there's always something to challenge the riders.
"Last year a lot of crashes happened in that first week and I think that will be very similar next year. That whole element of staying in front and not going down is going to come into play massively.
“There’s a team time trial on stage four, but it’s not very long, so the gaps will be very small during that first week. There are two very short time trials as well and some real classic climbing up the Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux.
"For the 100th edition of the Tour de France they had to put everything that makes it so historical. It's certainly going to be beautiful.”
“All that means it’s going to be a hard race, but these routes always look harder in October when you’ve put a bit of weight on and not been on the bike for a few weeks (laughs).”
On whether he would defend his title or play a support role in the race, the Olympic time-trial gold medallist added: "Our season has only just finished but Dave Brailsford and the management team will go away now and look at everything to see where our chances best lie. It is in their hands as to how they devise the team tactically for next year.
“Once that’s decided we will train to the demands of that event. That's what Tim (Kerrison) and the performance team will do.”
With seven flat stages including the opening 212km from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia, Mark Cavendish – who recently joined Omega Pharma-QuickStep from Team Sky – will have the opportunity to wear the yellow jersey for the first time in his career with the green points jersey his target for the Tour as a whole.
"For the 100th edition of the Tour de France they had to put everything that makes it so historical. It's certainly going to be beautiful,” 2011 world road champion Cavendish said.
“The mountains are such a big part of the race so that will make it difficult for me and the other sprinters, but the good side for us is that those hard stages are book-ended by sprint-friendly stages at the start and finish of the race.
"The first stage should be a sprint and I've never had the opportunity to wear the yellow jersey, so it'll be nice to try for that, and then at the end of the Tour there’s a spectacular finish in Paris which has a few changes on the final circuit.
“We'll go all the way around the Arc du Triumphe on the laps which is a nice way to finish the Tour next year. I'm definitely looking forward to it."
Runner-up to Wiggins in 2012, Chris Froome welcomed the route and believes the final few stages will be crucial for those in the mix in the general classification.
"I like it; it's a very testing circuit,” Froome said. The two time trials are around 30km each and then there are about four stages where the GC should be decided in the mountains. It's going to be an exciting race.
"The fact that it could go down to the last days is a nice twist, and for the GC riders, that will always be something we have at the back of our minds. It's not over until the very end and the Alpe d'Huez stage will be one of the deciders, along with that brutal one up Mont Ventoux.”