It is supposed to celebrate cycling's iconic event, but for the past two years, the highlights film of the Tour de France has been an X-rated horror laced with farce.

It accompanies the unveiling of the route, but last year the final frame cut from a picture of dope-fuelled winner Floyd Landis on the podium to a cracked mirror. In the eyes of the Tour, he was already guilty before the appeal procedure had been played out. Yesterday, the announcement of next summer's route was characterised by more of the same.

There were images of the carnival London start, stunning crashes, and visceral racing. But the then race-leader Michael Rasmussen was dismissed for missing anti-doping tests while the favourite, Alexandre Vinokourov, was caught out in an illegal blood transfusion. As the film switched to the drug topic the soundtrack echoed to the sound of thunder.

If there is unease about the organisers making a theatrical production of "le dopage", they at least cannot be accused of sweeping it under the carpet.

A radical new route, axing of the traditional time trial opening and no more time bonuses promises a new-look event. Whether it ends the chemical cavalcade remains to be seen.

Organisers of the 104-year-old Tour say they never want to relive the drug lows of 2007. "We're setting off with good hope," said senior Tour official Jean-Francois Pescheux.

"We have to, because otherwise cycling is heading for catastrophe. If the 2008 season is a repeat of 2007 and 2006, it's the end of cycling.

I think everyone is aware of that."

The latest anti-doping ploy, a blood "passport," is scheduled to start in January. Tests will provide a blood profile of each cyclist. If subsequent analysis shows significant change, it would flag up potential cheating and riders could face sanctions. Only riders on the programme may start next summer.

Next year the Tour, from July 5-27, covers 2200 miles in 21 stages. Excluding the opening contre-le-montre, for the first time since 1966, will give more riders, and not just time-trial experts, the chance to vie for the leader's yellow jersey from the very start.

Without time bonuses, the race should be tighter and open, especially in the mountains. Christian Prudhomme, the race director, believes "cycling will rediscover its romanticism".

The route includes four summit finishes, and will cross into Italy, returning via one of Europe's highest roads, the 9193-feet Col de la Bonette-Restefond. The next day takes riders up three major climbs, concluding with the 21 hairpins to Alpe d'Huez. This will almost certainly decide the Tour.

Route. Tour de France 2008
Sat Jul 5 Stage 1 Brest to Plumelec, 195km
Sun Jul 6 Stage 2 Auray to St Brieuc, 165km
Mon Jul 7 Stage 3 St Malo to Nantes, 195km
Tue Jul 8 Stage 4 Cholet, individual time trial, 29km
Wed Jul 9 Stage 5 Cholet to Chateauroux, 230km
Thu Jul 10 Stage 6 Aigurande to Super Besse, 195km
Fri Jul 11 Stage 7 Brioude to Aurillac, 158km
Sat Jul 12 Stage 8 Figeac to Toulouse, 174km
Sun Jul 13 Stage 9 Toulouse to Bagneeres de Bigorre, 222km
Mon Jul 14 Stage 10 Pau to Hautacam, 154km
Tue Jul 15 rest day in Pau
Wed Jul 16 Stage 11 Lannemezan to Foix, 166km
Thu Jul 17 Stage 12 Lavelanet to Narbonne, 168km
Fri Jul 18 Stage 13 Narbonne to Nimes, 182km
Sat Jul 19 Stage 14 Nimes to Dignes les Bains, 182km
Sun Jul 20 Stage 15 Dignes les Bains to Prato Nevoso (Italy), 216km
Mon Jul 21 rest day in Cuneo (Italy)
Tue Jul 22 Stage 16 Cuneo to Jausiers, 157km
Wed Jul 23 Stage 17 Embrun to L'Alpe d'Huez, 210km
Thu Jul 24 Stage 18 Bourg d'Oisans to St Etienne, 197km
Fri Jul 25 Stage 19 Roanne to Montlucon, 163km
Sat Jul 26 Stage 20 Cerilly to St Amand-Montrond, individual time trial, 53km
Sun Jul 27 Stage 21 Etampes to Paris, 143km