Tour Turned Upside Down

After the so-called modest parcours of the previous edition, the 2009 Tour de France will be anything but. From the longer-than-usual 15km opening time trial around the streets of the millionaires' paradise of Monte Carlo, the final destination of the maillot jaune ought to be wide open right up to the final day thanks to a sting in the tail the like of which has not been seen in the Tour before.

"Beyond the prestige associated with the Principality," reflected Tour Director Christian Prudhomme, "the Tour start from Monaco was an immediate landmark attraction: being located in the south-east, it provoked the most intense curiosity as to the envisaged route and favoured audacity in the elaboration of the course."

This has certainly been achieved, and the traditional early stage territories of northern and western France have been avoided completely. The only time the race travels north of a diagonal line drawn southwest to northeast will be the final day's entrance to Paris.

The 2009 Tour parcours is also the most international for many years; starting as it does outside France in the Principality of Monaco, the route also passes through Spain, Andorra, Switzerland and Italy. Additionally, due to the southern position of the Grand Départ, the clockwise route will see the race tackle the Pyrénées first, just as the anti-clockwise route did last year.

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