Tour de France organisers ASO briefly published stage details on their website this afternoon and Dutch journalist Sander Slager alerted me to this via twitter. They’ve since taken down the listings but I was fast enough to copy the information down.
Here is the 2012 Tour de France.
|P||Prologue||Sat 30 June||Liège > Liège||6.1 km|
|1||Road stage||Sun 1 July||Liège > Seraing||198 km|
|2||Road stage||Mon 2 July||Visé > Tournai||207 km|
|3||Road stage||Tues 3 July||Orchies > Boulogne-sur-Mer||197 km|
|4||Road stage||Weds 4 July||Abbeville > Rouen||214 km|
|5||Road stage||Thurs 5 July||Rouen > Saint-Quentin||197 km|
|6||Road stage||Fri 6 July||Épernay > Metz||210 km|
|7||Road stage||Sat 7 July||Tomblaine > La Planche des Belles Filles||199 km|
|8||Road stage||Sun 8 July||Belfort > Porrentruy||154 km|
|9||Time trial||Mon 9 July||Arc-et-Senans > Besançon||38 km|
|–||Rest day||Tues 10 July||–||–|
|10||Road stage||Weds 11 July||Mâcon > Bellegarde-sur-Valserine||194 km|
|11||Mountains||Thurs 12 July||Albertville > La Toussuire||140 km|
|12||Mountains||Fri 13 July||Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne > Annonay||220 km|
|13||Road stage||Sat 14 July||Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux > Le Cap d’Agde||215 km|
|14||Road stage||Sun 15 July||Limoux > Foix||192 km|
|15||Road stage||Mon 16 July||Samatan > Pau||160 km|
|–||Rest day||Tues 17 July||–||–|
|16||Mountains||Weds 18 July||Pau > Bagnères-de-Luchon||197 km|
|17||Mountains||Thurs 19 July||Bagnères-de-Luchon > Peyragudes||144 km|
|18||Road stage||Fri 20 July||Blagnac > Brive-la-Gaillarde||215 km|
|19||Time trial||Sat 21 July||Bonneval > Chartres||52 km|
|20||Road stage||Sun 22 July||Rambouillet > Paris Champs-Élysées||130 km|
A caveat first that this is not confirmed by ASO so be careful if you want to book hotels.
At first glance the two time trials stand out, they make a total of 96km of solo time trialling when added to the prologue. The first of the two TT stages is from Arc-et-Senans to Besançon in the hilly Doubs area. Of course the precise route is not known but it’s quite likely that this is a technical course. The second time trial is going to be on much flatter terrain.
Vosges and Jura
In addition the mountains look relatively light. Before we get to the Alps we’ll have the Vosges and Jura to contend with. Now these don’t decide the race but they do make for good racing (and good riding if you’re a tourist). Stage 7 finishes in a small ski resort and features 7km at 8.5% which could create gaps. It’s also right next to the home of FDJ’s rising star Thibaut Pinot. Stage 8 should go into Switzerland with more climbs.
Things could begin after the first rest day when the race might take the terrible Grand Colombier climb on the way to Bellegarde but ASO don’t list this as a mountain stage, so there’s a chance the steep ramps are bypassed. Things start for sure on the next day when the race will go from Albertville to La Toussuire via the Col de la Madeleine and then the Col du Glandon before the first summit finish of the race at La Toussuire. This will also be the route used for the Etape du Tour cyclo ride. The next stage to Annonay leaves the Alps behind and could include a variety of climbs but the finish is away from the mountains. In total just six Alpine climbs will feature.
There’s the Bastille day finish in the Cap d’Agde coast, a chance for the sprinters but this is also a place famous for its crosswinds.
We then have two full days in the Pyrenees but before this, Limoux to Foix could borrow some climbs if they arc south but will be flat if they go north. Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon could well include the Soulor and Tourmalet before a finish in the valley. But the finish at Peyragudes means a summit finish as it’s a ski resort off the Col de Peyresourde. But the route should be interesting as Peyragudes is almost on top of Bagnères-de-Luchon, meaning a loop around the Pyrenees.
A classic opening week that gets progressively hillier as the race heads to the Alps. A tough time trial is followed by a brief stay in the Alps and then Pyrenees are short and sharp too. After celebrating the Tourmalet in 2010 and the Galibier in 2011 the race lessens its focus on the high mountains.
Given this is a provisional route, extrapolating further to the winners is another step along an uncertain path. Nevertheless, let’s run with this and explore who is up and down. In simple terms those who can time trial are the big favourites. Cadel Evans, Bradley Wiggins and Alberto Contador should be happy with this route, the same for the surprising Chris Froome and Richie Porte and Tony Martin, if he can improve his climbing in the high mountains.
It’s almost certainly not a race for the pure climbers, they have just two summit finishes to pull out time on their heavier rivals and might need to take 10 minutes across these stages just be avoid being crushed by those who can roll a big gear. This means they can’t wait until they are 2km from the finish, if they have any GC goals they’ll have to smash it up 40km from the finish. In total there are 25 climbs with HC, 1st and 2nd category status compared to 23 for this year’s racebut eight climbs are in the Vosges and Jura and so long as long and steep as the rest of the Alps.