Team Sky upbeat over new Tour route
A KEY member of Team Sky's management said that the 2012 Tour de France route, unveiled in Paris, could benefit both the squad's long-standing overall contender Bradley Wiggins and his British team-mate Chris Froome, whose second place in the recent Tour of Spain surprised both himself and his team.
The 2012 Tour route will feature 96.1 km of individual time trialling - the strongest suit of both veteran Wiggins and the inexperienced Froome - compared to just 51.4 km this year.
"On paper, it's good for both of them," Sky's sports director Sean Yates told The Independent. "Froomey has to show he can time-trial in France the way he did in the Tour of Spain and though I personally believe he can and that's why we've kept him [under contract, that's yet to be confirmed. But we're already in a good place because we know that Bradley ought to do well with so much time trialling."
While out-and-out climbers - such as Andy Schleck - are likely to be unhappy at a route heavy with time trials, Sky's new signing, Mark Cavendish, said the total of seven probable bunch sprint stages was "normal".
Schleck's and the other climbers' best chance to shine comes on the daunting stage 11, featuring just 15 km of flat racing and four major Alpine cols culminating in a shallow but steady ascent to La Toussuire ski station.
There is potential for ambushes, too, with stages in the little-used Vosges mountain range in the first week and the notorious Col du Grand Colombier in stage 10.
Apart from Sky, other riders who will be pleased with the route will be Alberto Contador - there is no team time trial, where his Saxo Bank squad looked vulnerable this year - and defending champion Cadel Evans, another strong time trialler.