This year’s Tour de France kicks off from the Futuroscope, a “retro-future" theme park (whatever that is), no longer with the traditional prologue but with a for-real time trial. Quite apt that organisers have dispensed with the traditional prologue, as Chris Boardman, traditional winner of it in recent years, had to pull out of the Tour last week.

Big hill sections come in the Pyrenees in Stage 10 and in the Alps in Stages 12, 14, 15, 16, 17. No Alpe d’Huez this year, but the real men and boys stuff comes in stages 14 and 15. The climb to to La Montee de Courcheval at the end of Stage 15 (17.3 km at 8.1% gradient to an altitude of 2,004m) has not been ridden since the the 1997 tour, and this should be a significant day.

Its all mouth-watering stuff, can’t wait for the contest to get going…

1 Saturday, July 1

FUTUROSCOPE, 16.5km

Individual Time trial

2 Sunday, July 2

FUTUROSCOPE/LOUDUN, 194km

3 Monday, July 3

LOUDUN/NANTES, 161.5km

4 Tuesday, July 4

NANTES/SAINT-NAZAIRE, 70km

Team time trial

5 Wednesday, July 5

VANNES/VITRÉ, 202km

6 Thursday, July 6

VITRÉ/TOURS, 198.5km

7 Friday, July 7

TOURS/LIMOGES, 205.5km

8 Saturday, July 8

LIMOGES/VILLENEUVE-SUR-LOT, 203.5km

9 Sunday, July 9

AGEN/DAX, 181km

10 Monday, July 10

DAX/LOURDES-HAUTACAM, 205km

11 Tuesday, July 11

BAGNÈRES-DE-BIGORRE/REVEL, 218.5km

12 Thursday, July 13

CARPENTRAS/MONT-VENTOUX, 149km

13 Friday, July 14

AVIGNON/DRAGUIGNAN, 185.5km

14 Saturday, July 15

DRAGUIGNAN/BRIANÇON, 249.5km

15 Sunday, July 16

BRIANÇON/COURCHEVEL, 173.5km

16 Tuesday, July 18

COURCHEVEL/MORZINE, 196.5km

17 Wednesday, July 19

ÉVIAN-LES-BAINS/LAUSANNE, 155km

18 Thursday, July 20

LAUSANNE/FRIBOURG-EN-BRISCAU, 246.5km

19 Friday, July 21

FRIBOURG-EN-BRISGAU/MULHOUSE, 58.5km

Individual time trial

20 Saturday, July 22

BELFORT/TROYES, 254.5km

21 Sunday, July 23

PARIS/CHAMPS-ÉLYSÉES, 138km