A 2012 Tour de France Sneak Peek
The A.S.O. accidentally released the route for the 2012 Tour de France and Roadcycling.com weighs in on the details.
Posting stuff to the Internet is a tricky thing. One wrong tap of the "enter" button and you might accidentally upload photos to Facebook from a bachelor party or in the case of the A.S.O., the route to the 2012 Tour de France. Merde!
The webmaster did remove the article, but not before Dutch journalist Sander Slanger posted the link on his Twitter account, which was then picked up and reposted by numerous cycling sites like velopeloton.com. And like a virus the route has now been spread throughout the web. Naturally the ASO hasn't confirmed the authenticity of the leaked route, but I think it's safe to assume that this is the legitimate loop.
After taking a look at the leaked course and checking out the terrain (thanks Google Earth) the skinny climber-types may have to spend time in the wind tunnel this off-season to perfect their time trial positions. But before the skinsuits and aero-wheels are deployed, the beginning of 2012 route looks fairly standard. Other than the prologue to sort out the general classification, we have a week of stages for the sprinters so look for Sky's Mark Cavendish racking up Green Jersey points before the road tilts upward on stage 7.
The finishing town for stage 7 is the ski resort of La Planche des Belles Filles and the race's first summit finish. The area boasts a 5.5 kilometer climb of 9.5% with steeper sections at 14%. According to the Wikipedia entry for La Planche des Belles Filles, the last kilometer is a 7% gradient - this will be the first sign of who is riding well. The next day the Tour de France peloton enters the French speaking part of Switzerland, so it's not too hard to imagine that this is another hilly day. Stage 9 is the next tester of the Grande Boucle.
Including the prologue there are 96 kilometers of racing against the clock. The first real time trial is stage 9, Arc-et-Senans to Besançon - a 38 kilometer route that will tackle the undulating terrain of the area. At first look I'm liking Tony Martin for the stage win and slipping on the Yellow Jersey. Sure there's consistent time trial favorite Fabian Cancellara, but I suspect we'll hear more later about the on-going take over of RadioShack and how it ruined the squad's morale. Pro cyclists are as skittish as thoroughbred horses. I can already hear the reports of how the off-season was a management disaster for the RadioShack-Nissan squad and how the riders never came together as one group. If Alberto Contador isn't sitting on the sidelines for two years I also think he's a strong contender as well. My gut feeling is the Spaniard is going to be in France. I'm also convinced that the UCI wants this ongoing controversy to go away and a suspension with the blow back being Contador's previous results are nullified is not the type of publicity the sport needs now.
After the time trial of stage 7 there's a much needed rest day followed by the customary