Tour de France’s Froome to Tackle ‘Hell of the North’ Cobbles

Chris Froome will have to navigate nine miles of cobblestone roads if he’s to retain the Tour de France title next year.

The fifth stage from Ypres, Belgium, to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, France, follows part of the course of Paris-Roubaix, a one-day race known as the “Hell of the North” that has treacherous conditions, organizers said today.

The Tour will start July 5 in Yorkshire, England -- the first of three English stages -- and end on July 27 on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Froome, the second straight British winner with Team Sky after Bradley Wiggins, told Procycling magazine last week he was concerned about a crash or mechanical problem on cobblestones ending his chances of victory

“A mechanical problem in the wrong moment of the race when things are kicking off could lead to you losing the Tour,” he added. “I’m not a big fan of that.”

Froome, 28, would be the first rider to retain his Tour de France title since Spain’s Miguel Indurain completed his run of five straight victories in 1995.

Alberto Contador, who won in 2007 and 2009, had his 2010 title removed for failing a drugs test. Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven in a row, starting in 1999, for using performance-enhancing drugs.

The 101st edition of the Tour has five summit finishes, one more than last year, and only one time trial.

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