Cycling-Next year's Tour expected to favour the Alps

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PARIS, Oct 24 (Reuters) The 2008 Tour de France course will be unveiled tomorrow and is expected to favour the Alps at the expense of the Pyrenees.

The three-week race will start from Brest, in Brittany, on July 5 and for the first time since 1966 the opening day will not be an individual time trial.

The first stage against the clock should take place in western France early in the opening week.

The 95th Tour de France should stop somewhere in Italy, a source close to the matter told Reuters.

All riders wishing to participate in the Tour should be in possession of the ''biological passport'' currently being set up by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

WADA and the UCI said on Monday they planned to collect blood samples from all professional riders in 2008 to create a medical profile that would then be compared to the data registered in doping tests.

Cycling was hit by an unprecedented number of doping cases this season, several during the Tour which was won by Spaniard Alberto Contador.

Dane Michael Rasmussen was sacked by his Rabobank team as he led the 2007 race for lying about his training programme, something he denies.

Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov was found guilty of blood doping during the Tour and was kicked out of the event along with his Astana team.

In September, American Floyd Landis, who won the 2006 Tour, was handed a two-year suspension by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and stripped of his title by the UCI following a positive test for testosterone during his victorious ride.


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