The 2012 Tour de France starts officially on Saturday 30 June and runs until 22 July. This is the 99th annual tour de France and once again elite athletes will compete over twenty days in a series of staged one-day races. The individual riders’ times are then accumulated to provide one final winner at the close. The leader of each stage then gets to wear the coveted yellow jersey in the next day’s events.
A Brief History Of The Tour De France
The Tour de France began in 1903 and today covers some 3,497 kilometres of challenging cycling terrain. The event runs through much of France and alternates through various parts of neighbouring European countries and has become a staple amongst the elite European sporting events. Previous nations that have staged sections of the tour include England, Ireland, Switzerland and Spain. The main section of the tour, however, has always been held in France. The tour lasts for three weeks and broken into separate stages consisting of one prologue and 20 stages.
The 2012 Tour de France Route
The 2012 tour will begin in the Province of Liege and head through Belgium into northern France. Liege once held a section of the race eight years ago and is a beautiful city that will set the tour off to a good start. From there the tour will continue towards eastern France and briefly enter Switzerland before continuing south towards Le Cap d’Agde. The tour will eventually head north again and finally end in Paris Champs-Elysees, having travelled the full length of France twice over.
There are a series of twenty stages with one prologue to start. The stages are split into the following profiles; 9 flat stages, 4 medium mountain stages (including one with a summit finish), 5 mountain stages (including two with a summit finish), 2 individual time-trial stages, 1 prologue and 2 much-deserved rest days. The sheer strength and determination will be apparent on the most challenging mountain races which run through the Vosges, the Jura, the Alps and the Pyrenees. The longest day is day 12 which runs for 226km on medium mountains from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davézieux.
This year’s Tour de France rider predictions
This year’s race will showcase a wide variety of cycling talent. Bradley Wiggins CBE is a British professional road bicyclist with plenty of experience both track and road riding. He is expected to be among the top riders this year, and has proven his excellence time and again. Australia’s Cadel Evans is another prime athlete who shows plenty of promise for 2012. It is widely believed that Evans and Wiggins will be contending for top honours this year.
And They’re Off; A spectators guide to Tour de France
When viewing the Tour de France first hand there are a view important things to consider. It is best to decide which sections of the race are most important to you. It is a long trek from one end of France to the other and back, so keep in mind that you cannot be everywhere at once. Choose a location that you would enjoy even if the race was not taking place. This way you have plenty of sights to see and things to do when the race passes by. Get a reasonable understanding of the routes and times the riders are expected to pass through. That aside, enjoy the race and everything else that the beautiful country of France has to offer. Otherwise if you cannot make it to France, the event is shown on mainstream, satellite sports channels.
Cycling’s greatest athletes through time
There have been many notable cyclists in the history of some of the greatest cycle race on earth. Many of whom will be remembered for their strength, endurance and inspirational efforts to be the best.
One cannot begin to think about history’s best cyclists without Alberto Contador entering the picture. Contador, a Spanish professional road bike racer, is only one of five different riders who have won all three Grand Tours of cycling; the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia (tour of Italy) and the Vuelta a Espana (tour of Spain). Unfortunately controversy has dogged him recently so although not appearing at this year’s Tour de France, he is tipped to make a return later this season.
Lance Armstrong is another name that inevitably arises when pondering the best cyclists of all time. American rider Armstrong finished the tour in first place an astounding seven years running from 1999 to 2005. This broke the record for consecutive victories, and he did it immediately after battling testicular cancer.
Throughout the years, many amazing cyclists have come and gone and will continue to in the future. 2012 is sure to be an unforgettable year for the Tour de France and should not be missed.