Tour De France 2012: Dates, Route Info and Stage-by-Stage Preview

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2012

Tour De France 2012: Dates, Route Info and Stage-by-Stage Preview

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    With the 2012 edition of the Tour de France upon us, it’s time to get ready as we celebrate the 99th running of the annual event.

    Even if you aren’t a huge fan of cycling, the fact that these men will ride 3,479 kilometers (2161.75 miles) is a feat that must be respected by all.

    Add in the intrigue of all the different racing styles and the curveballs the wild course can hand a rider and there is no way you should be missing the action over the next month.

    There is over 20 days of racing all together, but don’t underestimate how fast it will pass. You don’t want to be the only one who isn’t keeping up on the action, do you?

    The following slides will make you a Tour de France connoisseur, so sit back and enjoy!

     

Dates, TV Schedule and Route Info

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    With fans starting to prepare for the annual race—whether it be in France or via the television feed—it’s important you know what you are looking forward to and when to look forward to it.

    There are 20 stages on a prologue to this event, so it’s important that you know about each portion to understand the challenges that it brings.

     

    Where: Starts in the Belgian city of Liège—end at Champs-Elysées in Paris

    When: Saturday, June 30—Sunday, July 22

    Watch: NBC, NBC Sports Network

    For more, visit NBC Sports

     

    NBC Sports Group's 2012 Tour de France Schedule

    Saturday, June 30
    Prologue: Liege to Liege, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Sunday, July 1
    Stage 1: Liege to Seraing, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network
    Recap show, 4 p.m., NBC

    Monday, July 2
    Stage 2: Vise to Tournai, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Tuesday, July 3
    Stage 3: Orchies to Boulogne-sur-mer, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Wednesday, July 4
    Stage 4: Abbeville to Rouen, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Thursday, July 5
    Stage 5: Rouen to Saint-Quentin, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Friday, July 6
    Stage 6: Epernay to Metz, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Saturday, July 7
    Stage 7: Tomblaine to La Planche des Belles Filles, 8 a.m., NBC

    Sunday, July 8
    Stage 8: Belfort to Porrentruy, 8 a.m., NBC

    Monday, July 9
    Stage 9: Arc-et-Senans to Bescancon, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Wednesday, July 11
    Stage 10: Macon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Thursday, July 12
    Stage 11: Albertville to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles, 7 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Friday, July 13
    Stage 12: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davezieux, 6:30 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Saturday, July 14
    Stage 13: Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Le Cap d'Adge, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Sunday, July 15
    Stage 14: Limoux to Foix, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Monday, July 16
    Stage 15: Samatan to Pau, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Wednesday, July 18
    Stage 16: Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon, 6:30 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Thursday, July 19
    Stage 17: Bagneres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes, 7:30 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Friday, July 20
    Stage 18: Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Saturday, July 21
    Stage 19: Bonneval to Chartres, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network

    Sunday, July 22
    Stage 20: Rambouillet to Paris Champs-Elysees, 8 a.m., NBC Sports Network
    Recap show, 1 p.m., NBC

    Note: All times ET

Prologue: Liège – Liège

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    Stage Name: Prologue, Liège—Liège

    Length: 6.4 km (4 mi)

    Style: Individual time trial

    Breakdown: In the first pre-stage of the event, the racers will be tested on how fast they can run the four-mile course. This will not only determine who will set the pace for the entire event, it will be the first place where the infamous Yellow Jersey is earned in 2012.

    This officially marks the beginning of the event. Let’s get ready to cycle!

Stage 1: Liège – Seraing

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    Stage Name: Liège—Seraing

    Length: 198 km (123 mi)

    Style: Flat stage

    Breakdown: While this is a predominately flat stage, this is one of the portions of the race that features an uphill climb to settle the day. The fact that it is very early in the race and that people are full of adrenaline will have the power cyclists dominating this stage.

Stage 2: Visé – Tournai

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    Stage Name: Visé—Tournai

    Length: 207.5 km (129 mi)

    Style: Flat stage

    Breakdown: With a much more rural feel to this portion of the race, the cyclists will go through Belgium and Tournai, before the final sprint on flat surface. The latter half of this stage is where the speed cyclists will catch up from last stage’s uphill climb.

Stage 3: Orchies – Boulogne-Sur-Mer

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    Stage Name: Orchies—Boulogne-sur-Mer

    Length: 197 km (122 mi)

    Style: Medium-mountain stage

    Breakdown: This will be the first section of the race that features serious uphill climbs for the racers. While the speed demons may have gained some steam in the flat stages, the powerful cyclists will have a big showing here.

Stage 4: Abbeville – Rouen

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    Stage Name: Abbeville—Rouen

    Length: 214.5 km (133 mi)

    Style: Flat stage

    Breakdown: This stage runs alongside the shoreline, which will cause winds to gust and accidents to happen. While you never want to see a crash, there are few things as exciting as watching a cluster of racers pile up.

    If that’s going to happen, it will be in Stage 4.

Stage 5: Rouen – Saint-Quentin

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    Stage Name: Rouen—Saint-Quentin

    Length: 196.5 km (122 mi)

    Style: Flat stage

    Breakdown: This is one of the fastest portions of the race and this will be the chance for the sprinters to make their way to the front. While the power cyclists will have their time to shine later, the early goings of the Tour de France are all about the speedsters.

Stage 6: Épernay – Metz

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    Stage Name: Épernay—Metz

    Length: 207.5 km (129 mi)

    Style: Flat stage

    Breakdown: With this being the last flat stage for awhile, the fastest racers that struggle at times with strength must extend their lead here. This is a fast portion of the track, but this will also be the stage where the power cyclists get ready for their climb to the top.

Stage 7: Tomblaine – La Planche Des Belles Filles

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    Stage Name: Tomblaine—La Planche des Belles Filles

    Length: 199 km (124 mi)

    Style: Medium-mountain stage

    Breakdown: This is where the race starts to separate the true contenders from the true pretenders. With a huge climb to finish this stage, this will be a good barometer for which of the cyclists will be contending for a win in 2012.

Stage 8: Belfort – Porrentruy

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    Stage Name: Belfort—Porrentruy

    Length: 157.5 km (98 mi)

    Style: Medium-mountain stage

    Breakdown: While this may be one of the shorter stages, that’s because it is the most difficult medium-mountain stage on the course this year. With swirling ascensions, there is no doubt that this will test the still fresh field like none of the others before it.

Stage 9: Arc-Et-Senans – Besançon

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    Stage Name: Arc-et-Senans—Besançon

    Length: 41.5 km (26 mi)

    Style: Individual time trial

    Breakdown: While this is a beautiful area of the course, the racers will be trying to sprint through this individual time trial with their best time of the race. There is an off-day following this shortened trail and most racers want to make great time and get ready for the mountains.

Stage 10: Mâcon – Bellegarde-Sur-Valserine

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    Stage Name: Mâcon—Bellegarde-sur-Valserine

    Length: 194.5 km (121 mi)

    Style: Mountain stage

    Breakdown: With an incredible mix of ascending and descending, the first true mountain stage will be marked by plenty of jostling for position. Since there are many racers that have never been on this portion of the course before, this could be a site for potential accidents.

Stage 11: Albertville – Fontcouverte-La-Toussuire/Les Sybelles

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    Stage Name: Albertville—Fontcouverte-la-Toussuire/Les Sybelles

    Length: 148 km (92 mi)

    Style: Mountain stage

    Breakdown: Arguably the most intense stage of the race, stage 11 will feature some of the highest climbs and oddest weather anomalies. With air getting slightly thinner in the higher altitudes, you can expect the best racers to push to the front here.

Stage 12: Saint-Jean-De-Maurienne – Annonay/Davézieux

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    Stage Name: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne—Annonay/Davézieux

    Length: 226 km (140 mi)

    Style: Medium-mountain stage

    Breakdown: While this isn’t the biggest mountain stage, the steepness of the grade in a few parts of this long portion of the Tour will cause the sprinters to fall way off pace. With that in mind, the fastest racers must prepare for the next stage.

Stage 13: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux – Cap D'Agde

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    Stage Name: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux—Cap d'Agde

    Length: 217 km (135 mi)

    Style: Flat stage

    Breakdown: While the power cyclists have already padded their lead in the mountains, a downhill start and a flat course for stage 13 is enough to get the top sprinters back into contention.

    For most speedsters, though, the damage will be too deep to repair.

Stage 14: Limoux – Foix

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    Stage Name: Limoux—Foix

    Length: 191 km (119 mi)

    Style: Mountain stage

    Breakdown: Just as the speedsters start to make their play for the lead again, they will be faced with some of the steepest climbs they will see all race.

    While this portion isn’t the longest, this will be a true test of the cyclists’ fortitude.

Stage 15: Samatan – Pau

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    Stage Name: Samatan—Pau

    Length: 158.5 km (98 mi)

    Style: Flat Stage

    Breakdown: One thing that I love about this year’s event is how much the styles interact with each other from stage to stage.

    Every time it seems like the power cyclists will take a serious lead, a flat surface comes up and the sprinters make a run at Yellow Jacket.

    It’s great!

Stage 16: Pau – Bagnères-De-Luchon

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    Stage Name: Pau—Bagnères-de-Luchon

    Length: 197 km (122 mi)

    Style: Mountain stage

    Breakdown: This is undoubtedly the hardest stage of them all this year, with stiff climbs coming after weeks of wear and tear. Sprinters will have a hard time, but this stage is so tough that even the best power cyclists will struggle at times.

    Stage 16 could the deciding factor on who wins the 2012 Tour de France.

Stage 17: Bagnères-De-Luchon – Peyragudes

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    Stage Name: Bagnères-de-Luchon—Peyragudes

    Length: 143.5 km (89 mi)

    Style: Mountain stage

    Breakdown: While this stage is much shorter, do not mistake that for being easy. As the only stage that features no level ground, this will be 89 miles of pure climbing.

    I do not envy the racers on this stage.

Stage 18: Blagnac – Brive-La-Gaillarde

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    Stage Name: Blagnac—Brive-la-Gaillarde

    Length: 222.5 km (138 mi)

    Style: Flat stage

    Breakdown: What happens on stage 18 depends on how far back the sprinters are.

    There is no doubt that the power cyclists will be out front coming into this stage, but how long it is before the faster racers make it back to the front will depict how hard everyone races.

Stage 19: Bonneval – Chartres

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    Stage Name: Bonneval—Chartres

    Length: 53.5 km (33 mi)

    Style: Individual time trial

    Breakdown: This is a mountain time-trial that is not like the mountain stages. While it is uphill, the grade is not too steep and speed racers can really find their marks here.

    With one stage to go, everyone will be going all out at stage 19.

Stage 20: Rambouillet – Paris (Champs-Élysées)

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    Stage Name: Rambouillet—Paris (Champs-Élysées)

    Length: 120 km (75 mi)

    Style: Flat stage

    Breakdown: With the final 75 miles on tap, this is sure to be a complete crap shoot. As it is every year, the best racers will have made their beds for this last day.

    While many fans feel that a man like Cadel Evans will have a big lead by this point and cruise to a win, there are too many talented racers to say it will be easy. There will be a closer finish than most experts and fans think; you can bet on it!

Predicted Winner: Cadel Evans

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    After winning this event in 2011, Australian racer Cadel Evans is back this year to stake his claim as one of the best in the world by winning back-to-back titles; the first time since Lance Armstrong did it in 2006.

    At 35 years old, there is little doubt that age will be something to watch for, but his experience is one of the reasons he is so dangerous. The Tour de France is the ultimate marathon and Evans knows how to handle it.

    With plenty of success in this race over the last few years and a team behind him keeping the cyclist on the right track, there is no reason to believe that he won’t be wearing the Yellow Jersey again.