Today, the 2006 Tour de France route has been revealed by its organizers. I am very excited about this edition, the first in seven years in which Lance Armstrong will not be participating and dominating. The 2003 Tour was the most exciting in years, primarily because Armstrong was at his most vulnerable. Next year should be a free-for-fall, with no clear favorite among the contenders: Ullrich, Basso, and Vinokourov.
Biggest change from last year is the exclusion of the Team Time Trial (TTT), which has been won by U.S. Postal/Discovery Channel the past three years. There’s also a short 7km prologue taking place of the Stage 1 Individual Time Trial from 2005.
The course goes counter-clockwise this time around, with two days in the Pyrenees before heading to the Alps. That’s where the fireworks should start, with Stage 15 ending at the top of L’Alpe-d’Huez, one of three mountaintop finishes in 2006 (Stages 11, 15, and 16). The penultimate day is a 56km time trial that is sure to shake up the overall standings should no one emerge victorious after three days in the Alps.