Running from Saturday, June 30th to Sunday, July 22th 2012, the 99th Tour de France will be made up of 1 prologue and 20 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,479 kilometres.
The 2012 Tour de France route, presented this this morning in Paris' Palais des Congrès (the route for 2012 had already been mistakenly disclosed earlier last week) casts the spotlight on the potential of intermediate mountain ranges. Christian Prudhomme has turned to novelty and to the cyclists' fighting spirit to keep the race for the Yellow Jersey open for as long as possible.
Start: Liège, Saturday, June 30, 2012. This will be the fourth time that the Tour de France kicks off in Belgium, a country which has always known how to instil a sense of panache into the peloton. It is precisely this sense of courage which inspired the design of the route of the 99th edition, one in which fortune will favor the bold, even in places where no-one expects it. Punchy riders will get their chance to shine on the rolling terrain of the Province of Liège and, later, Northern France. Those vying for the final victory will be able to go head-to-head before the end of the first week. They may even be able to open gaps if they make the most of the mountaintop finish at the Planche des Belles Filles (which makes its debut in the Tour) or the finale of the Porrentruy stage, right in the heart of the Swiss Jura.
While the favorites to win the Tour will be expected to dig deep on mountains which until now were labelled "intermediate", they will also have their work cut out for them on the Alpine and Pyrenean stages, whose profiles are especially dynamic. The 140-km-long stage between Albertville and La Toussuire - Les Sybelles will offer no respite to those poor riders who choose to play the waiting game. In the Pyrenees, the discovery of the Mur de Péguère, right before diving to Foix, together with the Aubisque-Tourmalet-Aspin-Peyresourde sequence on the Bagnères-de-Luchon stage and the Peyragudes summit finish, will give climbers the opportunity to shine. Cyclists will have no choice but to spring into action at the decisive moments. Indeed, the Liège prologue and the time trial stages in Besançon and Chartres will force them to defend their positions in the race against the clock over a combined length of more than 100 kilometers.
Asked if the route suited him, this year's winner Cadel Evans said: "I think so, you need a good team there for the GC (general classification), but we have that. I think the second half is favorable towards me. There are longer time trials, and they are a little bit flatter this year so that's a little more favorable to the 'rouleurs'."
Andy Schleck's impression was, "There's still 25 mountain passes to negotiate, and there were 23 this year. It will be hard in the mountains, but there's a lot of time trialing and that's something I'm currently working on. Ideally I would like to see another mountain top finish and one less time trial. But I have to take things as they are and keep on working on my time trial."
The 2012 TdF has the following aspects:
9 flat stages
4 medium mountain stages - one with a summit finish
5 mountain stages - two with a summit finish
2 individual time-trial stages
2 rest days
9 new stage towns
Abbeville, Annonay Davézieux, Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, La Planche des Belles Filles, Peyragudes, Porrentruy, Samatan, Tomblaine, Visé
Prologue 30 June Liège-Liège 6.1 km, Prologue
Stage 1 Sun 1 July Liège-Seraing 198 km
Stage 2 Mon 2 July Visé-Tournai 207 km
Stage 3 Tues 3 July Orchies-Boulogne-sur-Mer 197 km
Stage 4 Weds 4 July Abbeville-Rouen 214 km
Stage 5 Thurs 5 July Rouen-Saint-Quentin 197 km
Stage 6 Fri 6 July Épernay-Metz 210 km
Stage 7 Sat 7 July Tomblaine-La Planche des Belles Filles 199 km, Summit finish ( 6.2 km, sections up to 15%, final 200m 20% with pitches up to 28%)
Stage 8 Sun 8 July Belfort-Porrentruy 154 km
Stage 9 Mon 9 July Arc-et-Senans-Besançon 38 km, Time Trial
Tues 10 July, Rest day
Stage 10 Weds 11 July Mâcon-Bellegarde-sur-Valserine 194 km
Stage 11 Thurs 12 July Albertville-La Toussuire - Les Sybelles 140 km, Summit finish
Stage 12 Fri 13 July Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne-Annonay 220 km
Stage 13 Sat 14 July Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux-Le Cap d’Agde 215 km
Stage 14 Sun 15 July Limoux-Foix 192 km
Stage 15 Mon 16 July Samatan-Pau 160 km
Tues 17 July, Rest day
Stage 16 Weds 18 July Pau-Bagnères-de-Luchon 197 km
Stage 17 Thurs 19 July Bagnères-de-Luchon -Peyragudes 144 km, Summit finish
Stage 18 Fri 20 July Blagnac-Brive-la-Gaillarde 215 km
Stage 19 Sat 21 July Bonneval-Chartres 52 km, Time trial
Stage 20 Sun 22 July Rambouillet-Paris Champs-Élysées 130 km
The 2012 yellow jersey:
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