Tour de France 2014: Route announcement sends excitement through cycling world

Sky Sports News reporter Orla Chennaoui blogs from Paris

Last Updated: 23/10/13 2:47pm

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The sport's biggest stars were in attendance for the 2014 Tour de France route presentation

The sport's biggest stars were in attendance for the 2014 Tour de France route presentation

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Sky Sports News' Orla Chennaoui reports from Paris on the 2014 Tour de France route presentation.

To the uninitiated, the excitement and anticipation surrounding the annual unveiling of the Tour de France route may seem overplayed.

It's always a three-week race, after all, featuring sprints, mountain climbs and transitional stages in between. Surely the variations can't be that great from one year to the next.

But it's on this day in October that the runners and riders of the biggest bike race on earth can pretty much be identified.

And the Tour de France organisers love to add some glitz and glamour to amplify the occasion.

As the cream of the peloton sat in the front row of the packed amphitheatre of the Palais des Congres in Paris, they were first treated to a montage of highlights from last year's action.

British affair

It's always difficult to resist an outbreak of goosebumps as we watch the ups and downs, often quite literally, of the sport's greatest event.

As we watched footage of Chris Froome ride into Paris in yellow just three months ago, the man himself looked on, waiting expectantly to see whether he would get a realistic change of going for glory once again in 2014.

So does the race suit him? Well, he won't be relishing the realisation of his biggest fear, the treacherous cobbles of northern France, but there's much about the race that should suit him.

If he survives the war of attrition that will fittingly be played out by the battlefields of the First World War, there's plenty to look forward to in the mountains, not least the Col du Tourmalet towards the sharp end of the race.

Next year's Tour is, of course, a very British affair, and the Yorkshire organisers have considerately scheduled a sprint finish on stage one, finishing in Harrogate, the home town of Mark Cavendish's mother.

Cav's homecoming

This part of the race we already knew, but seeing it lit up on the big screen brought home the fact that if racing for yellow on the opening day of the British Grand Depart wasn't motivation enough for the Manx Missile, then this would make the day even more special.

Given that there are two opportunities for Cavendish to go for a sprint on British soil before it heads to France, and the fact that the last two winners of the Tour race under the GB flag, it was perhaps a wisely diplomatic move for Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome To Yorkshire, to deliver his welcome speech in French, rather than English.

Whilst boasting of the Yorkshire's sporting wealth, reminding the audience that were it a country, it would have finished 11th in last year's Olympic medal table, the fact that such pride was pronounced in the Tour's native tongue won him many fans in the audience.

As is traditional with Tour de France presentations, the invited riders have barely digested the briefly outlined route before the world's media thrust microphones and dictaphones their way to gauge their reactions.

They'll have plenty of time to study the various stages over the next nine months, of course.

Next stop, Yorkshire.

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