Just over halfway into this year's Tour de France, Stage 12 of the contest promises to separate the men from the boys, where those looking to stake a late claim on this year's title will need to make their moves.
The route will take riders from Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Etienne, a total distance of 185.5 kilometres (115 miles) over fairly flat terrain, with only climbs of Category 3 and 4 status on the agenda.
Read ahead for streaming information of Stage 12, along with an explanation of the standings heading into this event and a prediction for who succeeds in Saint-Etienne.
Date: Thursday 17 July
Distance: 185.5 km
TV Info and Live Stream: NBCSN (for U.S. viewers) and ITV4 (for U.K. viewers) will be broadcasting every stage of the 2014 Tour de France, with mobile coverage available via NBC Sports' Live Extra and the ITV Player app.
|2014 Tour de France General Classification|
|1||Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Yellow Jersey||Astana||46h 59' 23"|
|2||Richie Porte (AUS)||Team Sky||+ 2' 23"|
|3||Alejandro Valverde (ESP)||Movistar Team||+ 2' 47"|
|4||Romain Bardet (FRA) White Jersey||Ag2r-La Mondiale||+ 3' 01"|
|5||Tony Gallopin (FRA)||Lotto-Belisol||+ 3' 12"|
|6||Thibaut Pinot (FRA)||FDJ.fr||+ 3' 47"|
|7||Tejay van Garderen (USA)||BMC Racing Team||+ 3' 56"|
|8||Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA)||Ag2r-La Mondiale||+ 3' 57"|
|9||Bauke Mollema (NED)||Belkin Pro Cycling||+ 4' 08"|
|10||Jurgen Van den Broeck (BEL)||Lotto-Belisol||+ 4' 18"|
|2014 Tour de France Points Classification|
|1||Peter Sagan (SVK) Green Jersey||Cannondale||301|
|2||Bryan Coquard (FRA)||Team Europcar||164|
|3||Marcel Kittel (GER)||Giant-Shimano||157|
|4||Alexander Kristoff (NOR)||Team Katusha||127|
|5||Andre Greipel (GER)||Lotto-Belisol||111|
|6||Mark Renshaw (AUS)||Omega Pharma-Quick Step||110|
|7||Greg Van Avermaet (BEL)||BMC Racing Team||100|
|8||Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Yellow Jersey||Astana||95|
|9||Tony Gallopin (FRA)||Lotto-Belisol||87|
|10||Tony Martin (GER)||Omega Pharma-Quick Step||76|
|2014 Tour de France Mountains Classification|
|1||Joaquim Rodríguez (ESP) Polka-Dotted Jersey||Team Katusha||51|
|2||Thomas Voeckler (FRA)||Team Europcar||34|
|3||Tony Martin (GER)||Omega Pharma-Quick Step||26|
|4||Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Yellow Jersey||Astana||20|
|5||Alessandro De Marchi (ITA)||Cannondale||18|
|6||Blel Kadri (FRA)||Ag2r-La Mondiale||17|
|7||Tony Gallopin (FRA)||Lotto-Belisol||16|
|8||Alejandro Valverde (ESP)||Movistar Team||12|
|9||Giovanni Visconti (ITA)||Movistar Team||12|
|10||Nicolas Edet (FRA)||Cofidis||12|
Like Stage 11, Thursday's scheduled route features four less imposing climbs, the only difference being that Stage 12 has an equal split of two Category 3 and two Category 4 climbs.
From Bourg-en-Bresse, the riders will head due west for Romaneche-Thorins, where they encounter a sprint before taking a south-western pivot, making for their first ascent of the day.
As cycling writer Joe Geimer implies, Slovakian Peter Sagan was one of the flat favourites on Wednesday but could eventually muster only a ninth-place finish, showing these speed tests are far from as easy as they might seem:
Upon reaching Col de Brouilly, a 1.7-kilometre climb awaits, though the riders will be pleased to know that the 5.1 percent incline is their steepest of the day, gradually lessening throughout.
Again, the route takes a turn toward the west, where the second climb of the day awaits—Cote du Saule-d'Oingt. This is a Category 3 and 3.8 kilometres in length, taking the competitors through Oingt before they come upon their second consecutive Category 3 ascent up Col des Brosses to 2,844 feet.
This is by some margin the longest climb at 15.3 kilometres, but the final leg of the race will assuredly be its most testing, and after turning south once more, the 164-kilometre mark presents riders with the Cote de Grammond, a 9.8-kilometre, Category 4 climb at 2.9 percent.
At this point, some sprinters' teams will have faded from chances of a win, but for those fortunate enough to have conserved the energy, a descent into La Talaudiere awaits before they'll have the chance to unleash their final flourishes over a 8.5-kilometre flat finish.
Stage 12 Pick: Peter Sagan
Sagan was top pick to win Stage 11, but as aforementioned, the 24-year-old could only grab ninth place.
The Slovakian's finish-line tricks are an entertaining aspect, but sooner or later, a more mature approach will be needed, and considering how ferociously he's been involved come the late phases of some stages this year, he undoubtedly has the talent to do so.
Sports Lobster note just how dogged Sagan was in his late chase for Stage 11 glory:
Brendan Gallagher, meanwhile, questions the rider's attitude:
Again, the sprinter should be considered for the top places on Thursday, provided his Cannondale team-mates can once again give him a late opportunity en route to Saint-Etienne.