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.
"transitional" stage that takes the peloton to the home of the 1992 Winter Olympics, Albertville. From there they ride to La Toussuire - the next mountain top finish. In fact the town has entered into a sponsorship with AG2R, so look for that French team to be gunning for the stage win like it was Bastille Day. This pretty much wraps up the Alps for the 2012 Tour de France.
Speaking of Bastille Day, this national French holiday falls during a sprinter's stage - Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Le Cap d'Agde. This seaside tourist town will be packed with fans rooting for a French rider (AKA Thomas Voeckler) who will launch a doomed attack, ultimately chased down with five kilometers to go followed by a Cavendish stage win. After his victory Cav exits stage left for England and prepares for the London Olympics.
Up next are the Pyrenees and the next summit finish. Stage 17 finishes in Peyragudes which is a ski resort, so you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to know this is another summit finish. The blog Inrng did a comparison of the 2011 Tour versus the 2012 route and noted that there were 25 Hors Category, Category 1 and Category 2 climbs in the leaked route in comparison to the 23 in the 2011 edition, but less total climbing.
Finally the penultimate stage is 52 kilometer effort. I'm a fan of this type of stage near the conclusion of a tour as it can be a cliffhanger if the general classification is tight. Vuelta a Espana organizers take note! Let's not have another snoozer like we did this year.
So with the 2012 Tour de France just a mere nine months away the favorite is someone who is a time trial expert and capable climber - no big surprise there. My immediate favorite is Contador who has proven he can race against the clock and ascend with the best in both disciplines. Of course defending champion Cadel Evans (Team BMC Racing) makes my short list and he has the team to back him up. Initially I wrote that Bradley Wiggins could be on the top step in Paris, but you know what, I just don't think he'll do it. I feel like he's going to lose time in the final week. However his teammate Chris Froome I like as an outside chance. Another outside chance for a podium is Chris Horner. If he can get back into the form he looked to have in 2011, the 40 year old could be a spoiler in the mountains. Next week the ASO will make this route official and put all this speculation to rest.