2007 Tour de France to have British beginning

For the first time ever the race will start in Britain.
PARIS (AP) -- The 2007 Tour de France will begin with a spin through the English countryside.
Thursday's presentation of the race route revealed a first-ever start in Britain, with a 5-mile prologue near London's Trafalgar Square, a dash through the leafy county of Kent and a channel crossing by ferry into France for the second leg.
What it did not include was Floyd Landis.
Most reigning champions are invited for the route's annual unveiling. Not Landis, who is no longer considered the race winner by Tour organizers because of a failed drug test. Even so, the eight-minute film that traditionally makes up the presentation ended with the American cyclist on the winner's podium.
Landis, who denies doping and vows to clear his name, is appealing the results of the test taken during his critical comeback stage of last year's tour that showed an abnormal testosterone ratio.
"Doping is the No. 1 problem in sport," Tour director Christian Prudhomme said. "We got hit over the back of the head by what happened."
Trafalgar Square
Next year's race begins with a 5-mile prologue near Trafalgar Square on the second anniversary of the London bombings by terrorists that killed 52 people. The July 7 start in London will show the city is united, Mayor Ken Livingstone said.
The route for the three-week race features six mountain stages and 21 tough climbs over 2,120 miles. It's the first start in England and third time the race has passed through since stages in 1974 and 1994.
Riders then head to Canterbury in the leafy countryside of Kent, before crossing the channel by ferry for the second stage, which begins in Dunkerque.
"Canterbury, with its prestigious cathedral and its magnificent countryside, is an ideal location," Prudhomme said. "We needed a city to the east of London and close to the channel."
Prudhomme hopes Livingstone will visit France during one of the stages before the race ends with its traditional eight laps around the Champs-Elysees.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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