Chris Boardman is previewing each and every stage of the 2012 Tour de France for BikeRadar (BikeRadar)
The wait is almost over. After months of build-up, Saturday afternoon will see the 99th Tour de France finally jolt into action in Liège, Belgium.
We’ve brought in British cycling legend and three-time Tour de France prologue winner Chris Boardman to preview all 21 stages of this year’s race, looking at route profiles and the likely key players each day.
After the road race on the opening day last year, the prologue returns for 2012 with a lumpy 6.4km route through the city streets of Liège. Given the length, significant time gaps will be kept to a minimum so expect to see time trial specialists Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara figure strongly.
Philippe Gilbert won the opening road stage last year and this rolling 198km from Liège to Seraing will be one he’ll desperately want to win on home roads. Given he’s not quite at the level he was last season, Liquigas Cannondale’s powerhouse Peter Sagan will be looking to run him close.
The final day in Belgium, a 207.5km trek from Visé to Tournai, is the first opportunity for the sprinters to make their mark. Team Sky’s Mark Cavendish will certainly fancy it, but with one eye on the Olympic’s and a host of hungry rivals like Marcel Kittel and old foe André Greipel gunning for victory, he’ll have his hands full.