June 29, 2012
The stage-by-stage map of the Tour De France
Everything you need to know about every stage in this year's Tour.
June 30: Prologue, Liege 6.4km – The Tour opens in Belgium with the same time trial course that started the 2004 edition. An early chance to assess the form of title contenders such as Cadel Evans and Brad Wiggins, but it won’t have a major impact on their overall prospects.
July 1: Stage one, Liege to Seraing, 198km – The opening stage is usually set up for the sprint aces, but this features plenty of rolling hills and the likes of Mark Cavendish might struggle to feature at the finish.
July 2: Stage two, Vise to Tournai, 207.5km – This is more like it for the fast men. Expect a duel at the finish between Cavendish, Orica-Greenedge ace Matthew Goss and the other top sprinters.
July 3: Stage three, Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer, 197km – The Tour moves to north-east France and this stage has a nasty sting in the tail. A series of category three and four climbs will split the field in the run to the coastal finish.
July 4: Stage four, Abbeville to Rouen, 214.5km – This stage runs along the coast for about 140km, meaning there could be splits if the wind is up. Overall, it looms as one for the sprinters.
July 5: Stage five, Rouen to Saint-Quentin, 196.5km – Australian sprint legend Robbie McEwen scored one of his 12 Tour stage wins at Saint-Quentin in 2006. Another sprinter should win this stage as well.
July 6: Stage six, Epernay to Metz, 207.5km – This should be a standard week-one sprinter’s stage. Epernay is noted for champagne production – great for the stage winner.
MUST WATCH July 7: Stage seven, Tomblaine to La Planche des Belles Filles, 199km – The Tour has never been to this finish, which is a brute of a climb. There are a couple of other nasty hills earlier in the stage. One for the overall contenders.
July 8: Stage eight, Belfort to Porrentruy, 157.5km – Another big day for Evans and the other yellow jersey hopefuls. It is punctuated by a series of significant climbs and should be tailor-made for the title contenders to stake their claims.
MUST WATCH July 9: Stage nine, Arc-et-Senans to Besancon, 41.5km – the first of two individual time trials and, by definition another major day for the overall contenders. If Evans is to win the Tour again, he will feature prominently here.
July 10: rest day.
MUST WATCH July 11: Stage 10, Macon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, 194.5km – There is plenty of unfamiliarity about this Tour and this day it visits the Col du Grand Colombier for the first time. The monstrous 17km climb in the Jura range will make a fearsome debut. After that ascent, there is a lot of downhill to the stage finish.
MUST WATCH July 12: Stage 11, Albertville to La Toussuire, 148km – This Alps stage features two famous Tour climbs, the Col de la Madeleine and the Col de la Croix de Fer. Another big day for the overall contenders.
July 13: Stage 12, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davezieux, 226km – Two big climbs, followed by 150km of much flatter terrain to the finish. Potentially a stage for breakaways.
July 14: Stage 13, Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Le Cap d’Agde, 217km – This transition stage between the Alps and Pyrenees finishes along the coast, so crosswinds could split the field.
July 15: Stage 14, Limoux-Foix, 191km – Into the Pyrenees. There are two main climbs and then a descent of nearly 40km to the finish. Not as much potential for carnage as the other Pyreneean days, but still tough.
July 16: Stage 15, Samatan-Pau, 158.5km – In the midst of key mountain stages, this should be a day for the sprinters.
July 17: Rest day.
MUST WATCH July 18: Stage 16, Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon, 197km – In a word, hell. Some of the Tour’s most famous climbs feature in this suffer-fest – Tourmalet, Aubisque, Aspin and Peyresourde. This will shake up the overall standings.
MUST WATCH July 19: Stage 17, Bagneres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes, 143.5km – A shorter stage, but there is very little flat terrain, with four categorised climbs. It also features the third and final summit finish of the Tour.
July 20: Stage 18, Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde, 222.5km – Some temporary respite for the riders at the pointy end of the overall standings ahead of their last big test. The sprinters should decide the win.
MUST WATCH July 21: Stage 19, Bonneval to Chartres, 53.5km – As with last year’s Tour, this individual time trial on the second-last day is where the overall title will probably be decided. If Evans is anywhere near the overall lead, this again will be where he can make his big move.
July 22: Stage 20, Rambouillet to Paris Champs-Elysees – The traditional process stage into Paris that ends the Tour. One last chance for the sprinters.