The Amaury Sport Organisation yesterday announced that next year's Tour de France -- the race's 100th edition -- will be held from June 29-July 21. The 3,360km race course will remain exclusively within France's borders for the first time in ten years. The race will begin on the island of Corsica for the first time and conclude on the Champs-Elysees in Paris (ASO). YAHOO SPORTS’ Martin Rogers noted race Dir Christian Prudhomme “started the campaign this week to generate some much-needed positive publicity, unveiling a route of such difficulty and unpredictability that it left riders and commentators stunned.” The announcement follows the fallout of the Tour stripping seven titles from disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. Rogers: “Admittedly, it is a move that smacks of desperation, but that does not make it wrong. For these are indeed desperate times for cycling.” Perhaps there is "no better time for it to reinvent itself.” Race organizers first “hope to convince the public it is watching a clean sport” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/24). In London, Brendan Gallagher reports Britain is “set to host up to five stages of the Tour de France in either 2014 or 2015 after race organisers gave the green light to an audacious Scottish-led bid under which the race would begin in Edinburgh and take in parts of England and Wales as well.” The route would “finish as close to south east England as possible to facilitate the mass transfer of the travelling Tour circus back to France.” A decision is “expected from organiser Amaury Sport Organisation before Christmas” (London TELEGRAPH, 10/25).
STILL WORTHY? ESPN.com’s Bonnie Ford wrote there is “no sport with a bigger credibility fight on its hands than cycling, and no event where genuine romance coexists so uncomfortably with hideous reality than the Tour de France.” Amid the “nonstop news deluge of the last few weeks, many readers have asked me whether cycling is still worth following, which riders they can believe in, and whether they are foolish to feel any affection for the sport.” Ford: “I personally can't wait to see what happens next. Can the UCI ever be transformed into a constructive guardian of the sport? Or will it take a full-on rebellion, a rump league, more cataclysm in an already chaotic environment to prod real change? And if so, how will sponsors respond?” Ford wrote, “Dysfunctional though it may be, professional cycling has still tested more strategically, invested more in anti-doping efforts per team and per athlete, and caught more scofflaws than other sports” (ESPN.com, 10/24). The AP’s Stephen Wilson noted IOC President Jacques Rogge yesterday “defended” the UCI’s anti-doping efforts and said that it would be “wrong to kick the sport out of the Olympics in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal.” Rogge called the evidence against Armstrong "shocking." But he said that it will “ultimately be a ‘good thing’ that helps clean up the sport after a string of high-profile drug cases.” Rogge in an e-mail wrote, "It would be unfair to penalize the huge majority of clean athletes by banning UCI from the Olympic Games and we believe there are a number of ways by which cheaters can be kicked out of the sport" (AP, 10/24).