2013 Tour de France: Riders praise spectacle, ponder hilly challenges of final week

The presentation of the following year’s Tour de France route each fall always prompts strong reaction from the team directors and cyclists who attend the traditional unveiling and luncheon in Paris.

This year’s announcement of the 100th edition, which will include a night finish in Paris and a double ascent of Alpe d’Huez in one stage, was no exception — to say the least.

Here are comments from the past three winners of the Tour de France, the reigning world titlist and the highest placed America finisher in the 2012 race.

Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky, 2012 Tour de France titlist:

“I haven’t really had time to have a good look at the course, but it looks spectacular and I’m really looking forward to it. I wasn’t paying a lot attention and it’s a lot to take in in 20 minutes but you don’t really get a sense from the presentation how hard it’s going to be. The first week, I think a lot of other things could come into play like accidents and things like that.”

Cadel Evans, BMC, 2011 Tour de France titlist:

“In the last week, we won’t have an idea who’s going to eventually be the winner in Paris. It’s long on road stages, but shorter on time trial kilometers. I think it suits me a little bit better than 2012. It’s a real mix and variation of stages right from the start to the finish. That third week is going to be very tough.”

Andy Schleck, RadioShack, 2010 Tour de France titlist:

“It’s a better tour for climbers like me; the course is interesting, especially the last week with two climbs up Alpe d’Huez. My main job now is to become a rider again and regain my level. I still have pain but I hope to be free of pain by January. When I return to racing I want to competitive again.”

Philippe Gilbert, BMC, 2012 world road titlist:

“There will be many opportunities for sprinters at the start, then the team time trial and two individual time trials – one easy and one difficult – and then some uphill finishes. So this 100th Tour was built for a very complete rider.”

“To me, the queen stages will be the one that climbs l’Alpe d’Huez twice and the 242 km stage which finishes up the Mont Ventoux. They will be very tough and should affect the overall standings.”

Tejay van Garderen, 5th place overall, best young rider, 2012 Tour de France:

“Being here, you get even more of a sense of the magnitude of just how big the Tour is. Now that we know the material, it’s time to do the homework and study for the test. Two times up l’Alpe d’Huez on the same day? It’s not going to be easy. I would have liked maybe a little bit more kilometers in time trials, but I think it’s a good course. It’ll be fun.”

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