Tour de France 2014: Chris Froome delighted by Britain start

Chris Froome

Chris Froome said he is pleased to be starting the defence of his Tour de France title in Britain, on the day the 2014 route was revealed.

The Team Sky rider, 28, became the second Briton in a row to win the crown after Bradley Wiggins's 2012 victory.

Froome said having the race begin in Leeds "feels like a real privilege".

The 101st Tourexternal-link will include five mountain finishes, one individual time-trial and nine cobbled sections on stage five in northern France.

It will start in the Yorkshire city on 5 July, one of two stages in the county, before the riders race from Cambridge to London prior to the French stages.

"I was bowled over at the support we had in France so I can only imagine what it is going to be like over in Yorkshire," Froome added.

"It is going to be massive. It certainly gives a little bit of added pressure too I'm sure."

Meanwhile, the Briton said the cobbles in northern France would be "a bit of a risk" for the riders, but provide for an intriguing race.

Tour de France 2014 route in the UK

"The cobblestones are going to make it interesting, that's for sure, and they are going to make a good addition to the race," he added on the Team Sky website.

"For us as riders, it's a bit of a risk - there are accidents and mechanical problems that could happen - but it will make the race exciting and begin sort the race out at an early stage."

Tour director Christian Prudhomme said: "Uncertainty is part of the competition. It would not make sense to avoid the cobbles when we go through northern France."

Froome added that he was happy to see the reappearance of a summit finish on La Planches des Belles Filles on stage 10 - the first of five major summit finishes.

"It was a very special day for me winning at La Planches des Belles Filles in 2012," he said, with eventual champion Wiggins taking yellow for the first time in that edition.

"I'll get a special feeling going back there again next year. It's going to be the first summit finish again - which it was last time - and I think that always marks quite an important day for the general classification riders."

It will be the fourth time the race has visited the UK and the first time since 2007, when a Westminster prologue was followed by a stage through Kent. Previous visits came in 1974 and 1994.

The opening stage to Harrogate is expected to end in a sprint, giving Mark Cavendish - who has 25 stage wins in the Tour - the chance to take the race leader's yellow jersey in his mother's home town.

"I'm super excited about the first stage coming to Harrogate," said the 28-year-old. "I still have a lot of family there and it gives me an opportunity to wear the yellow jersey in front of my fans, so to dream of that is a big thing."

The second, hilly stage is from York to Sheffield and could open up gaps in the general classification standings, before another stage expected to end in a sprint, from Cambridge to The Mall in central London.

Welcome To Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity said he expected more than a million people to attend the stages in Yorkshire.

"I would think that would be the minimum - probably closer to two million, that will depend on the weather," he said.

"People will realise it is a once-in-a-generation thing and they will turn out in big numbers."

Soon after it leaves Britain, the race will arrive in Ypres, to commemorate the 100th year since the start of World War One.

The Tour will then head to some unfamiliar climbs in eastern France before heading down to the Alps and across to the Pyrenees before the penultimate stage - a 54km individual time trial between Bergerac to Perigueux, which could decide the winner of the Tour.

The 21st and final stage will finish, as per usual, at the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Tour de France 2014 stages

1Saturday 5 July: Leeds to Harrogate, 191km

2Sunday 6 July: York to Sheffield, 198km

3Monday 7 July: Cambridge to London, 159km

4Tuesday 8 July: Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille, 164km

5Wednesday 9 July: Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, 156km

6Thursday 10 July: Arras to Reims, 194km

7 Friday 11 July: Epernay to Nancy, 233km

8Saturday 12 July: Tomblaine to Gerardmer La Mauselaine, 161km

9Sunday 13 July: Gerardmer to Mulhouse, 166km

10Monday 14 July: Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles, 161km

Rest day Tuesday 15 July: Besancon

11Wednesday 16 July: Besancon to Oyonnax, 186km

12Thursday 17 July: Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Etienne, 183 km

13Friday 18 July: Saint-Etienne to Chamrousse, 200km

14Saturday 19 July: Grenoble to Risoul, 177 km

15Sunday 20 July: Tallard to Nimes, 222km

Rest day Monday 21 July: Carcassonne

16Tuesday 22 July: Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon, 237km

17Wednesday 23 July: Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d'Adet, 125km

18Thursday 24 July: Pau to Hautacam, 145km

19Friday 25 July: Maubourguet Pays du Val d'Adour to Bergerac, 208 km

20Individual time-trial: Saturday 26 July Bergerac to Perigueux, 54 km

21 Sunday 27 July: Evry to Paris Champs-Elysees, 136km

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