Tour de France preview: Stage 12

Stage 12: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davezieux, 226km, medium mountains

This stage, at nearly 80km longer than yesterday’s, is the longest of the 2012 Tour. But compared to stage 11’s snaggle-toothed profile, this will be (relatively speaking) an easier day for the riders. The profile below makes the stage look more accordion than it really is – it actually stretches out a bit more than it seems here. That said, it’s still going to be tough on legs drained by the last two days.

There are two Cat 1 mountains in the first 90km. The Col du Grand Cucheron (12.5km at 6.5%) is a climb of two halves: a gentle 4-6% for most of its first half, a rather less benign 8-10% for the second. The Col du Granier (9.7km at 8.6%) starts steep and just gets steeper. It’s then downhill for the next 80km – including an intermediate sprint which will be meaningless in terms of the green jersey competition – until a short Cat 3 climb, the Cote d’Ardoix, about 30km from a slightly uphill finish.

With the second half of the stage fairly straightforward, we are highly unlikely to see attacks from any of the GC contenders, so this one has ‘big breakaway’ written all over it. Look for riders low down the order from teams who have had little joy so far during this race – Movistar, Garmin-Sharp, Vacansoleil-DCM and Saur-Sojasun, for starters – being sent out by their teams for a long, hard slog in search of the glory of a stage victory – on Friday the 13th, no less.

Cycling the Alps’ interactive videos of the route can be found here.

Link: Official website

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