27 June 2012

Tour de France information for fans

The Tour de France begins this weekend!
I need to get ready, I need to prepare, I need to understand who, what and where. If you too plan to watch coverage of the Tour de France, and who, I ask, would not, or even better, if you plan to attend, as I do - then we need to do our homework ahead of time to learn the basics of the race. What are the dates? What teams will be in the 2012 Tour de France? What riders will be in the Tour de France? What is the route of the Tour de France? What time will each stage begin and finish? Which stages should I make sure to see? Which riders should do well? What changes can we expect for 2012? Where can we watch Tour de France coverage on TV and online? And most importantly - where will I be!
First a few facts:
  • 1 Prologue, 20 stages, 2 rest days, 22 teams, 9 riders each. 
  • Total distance: 3,496.9 km (2,173 mi)
  • 11 of the 25 climbs in the Tour are in the Pyrenees.
  • Only 3 of the stages have uphill finishes. 
  • There will be 101.1 km of individual time trial in 2012.
  • The Tour will begin in Belgium this year. It will also visit Switzerland.
  • The Tour will flow in a clockwise direction in 2012. It rotates every other year - clockwise then counter-clockwise).
  • There will be 9 new first ever stage towns in 2012.
  • Of the podium finishers from 2011 (Evans, A.Schleck, Contador) only Evans will return in 2012.
  • George Hincapie (USA) will set a record this year by racing seventeen times at the Tour de France.
  • Approximately 2 million euros will be awarded to the teams and the riders, including 450,000 euros for the winner of the general individual classification (yellow jersey).
  • The caravan gives away over 16 million gifts with € 200,000 to € 500,000 investment from each advertiser from 33 brands represented.
  • 47% of spectators come first and foremost to see the caravan (learn more).
Dates of 2012 Tour de France
30 June–22 July, 2012
Cycling teams in the 2012 Tour de France
22 professional UCI and Continental teams will compete in the 2012 Tour de France:
Ag2r-La Mondiale, Argos-Shimano†, Astana, BMC Racing Team, Cofidis†, Euskaltel-Euskadi, FDJ-BigMat, Garmin-Sharp, Lampre-ISD, Liquigas-Cannondale, Lotto-Belisol, Movistar Team, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Orica-GreenEDGE, Rabobank, RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, Saur-Sojasun†, Team Europcar†, Team Katusha, Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, Team, Sky, Vacansoleil-DCM

Rosters of riders in the 2012 Tour de France
Each of the 22 teams will bring 9 riders (plus Directeur Sportif, coaches, mechanics, soigneurs, cooks, drivers, communication staff and other general staff members). The list of riders on each team may be seen at this link (this is the best list I have found): wikipedia's list of Tour de France riders
Route of the 2012 Tour de France (by LeTour.com)
The 2012 Tour de France begins with a Prologue in Belgium, followed by 20 stages. 
2012 Tour de France Map (link to official larger map)
Official 2012 Tour de France route (by LeTour.com)
(Hiding behind those fancy red arrows are profile maps of some of the stages)

Stage Type Date Start and Finish Distance Details
P Prologue Saturday 30 June Liège - Liège 6.1 km
1 Plain Sunday 1 July Liège - Seraing 198 km
2 Plain Monday 2 July Visé - Tournai 207 km
3 Medium mountains Tuesday 3 July Orchies - Boulogne-sur-Mer 197 km
4 Plain Wednesday 4 July Abbeville - Rouen 214 km
5 Plain Thursday 5 July Rouen - Saint-Quentin 197 km
6 Plain Friday 6 July Épernay - Metz 210 km
7 Medium mountains Saturday 7 July Tomblaine - La Planche des Belles Filles 199 km
8 Medium mountains Sunday 8 July Belfort - Porrentruy 154 km
9 Individual time-trial Monday 9 July Arc-et-Senans - Besançon 38 km
10 High Mountains Wednesday 11 July Mâcon - Bellegarde-sur-Valserine 194 km
11 High Mountains Thursday 12 July Albertville - La Toussuire - Les Sybelles 140 km
12 Medium mountains Friday 13 July Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - Annonay Davézieux 220 km
13 Plain Saturday 14 July Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - Le Cap d’Agde 215 km
14 High Mountains Sunday 15 July Limoux - Foix 192 km
15 Plain Monday 16 July Samatan - Pau 160 km
16 High Mountains Wednesday 18 July Pau - Bagnères-de-Luchon 197 km
17 High Mountains Thursday 19 July Bagnères-de-Luchon - Peyragudes 144 km
18 Plain Friday 20 July Blagnac - Brive-la-Gaillarde 215 km
19 Individual time-trial Saturday 21 July Bonneval - Chartres 52 km
20 Plain Sunday 22 July Rambouillet - Paris Champs-Élysées 130 km

Stage start and finish times of the 2012 Tour de France  

The caravan, on the first day, will present at 12:00, the first rider in the Prologue will start at 14:00, the last rider will finish at 17:25. Most standard Tour de France days expect the Caravan to begin around 10:20am, the riders to start between 12:00 and 12:30 and finish shortly after 17:00.

For exact time schedules, please click on the Stage # link (and select the Time Schedule tab) for the complete stage schedule. Time are in France (CEST) time, (-6hrs EDT) (-8hr MDT) (-9hr PDT): Prologue ; Stage 1 ; Stage 2 ; Stage 3 ; Stage 4 ; Stage 5 ; Stage 6 ; Stage 7 ; Stage 8 ; Stage 9 ; Stage 10 ; Stage 11 ; Stage 12 ; Stage 13 ; Stage 14 ; Stage 15 ; Stage 16Stage 17 ; Stage 18 ; Stage 19 ; Stage 20 
A Caravan car in 1930
Key stages to watch of the 2012 Tour de France
Stages 7, 9, 11, 16, 17, 19. 
For a very complete excellent race preview please read: Tour de France 2012 Preview by road.cc with maps and profiles and route descriptions. 

Which riders to watch in 2012
Almost everyone has their eye on the top-5 candidates for overall victory: Cadel Evans (BMC), Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Frank Schleck (RSNT), and Robert Gesink (Rabobank). I expect to see a surprise on the podium, but the riders I am most interested in watching are the young ones - the twins Peter and Martin Velits, Tejay van Garderen, Marcel Kittel, and especially Peter Sagan.

The first week of the Tour, when the stages are in northern France, the fans will go crazy over Philippe Gilbert and Frank Schleck. When the Tour passes into Switzerland, the fans will turn out in support of Fabian Cancellara. The French have their favorite as well - Tommy Voeckler and his entire Europcar team. Expect to be entertained by the best riders to interview including Jens Voigt, Chris Horner, Pierre Rolland and Bernhard Eisel.
Changes in rules for the 2012 Tour de France
  1. NO BONUSES For this 2012 edition, no bonuses will be awarded in intermediate sprints and stage finishes. Official time remains the absolute reference.

  2. A SOLE INTERMEDIATE SPRINT As in 2011, the points for the green jersey classification will be awarded at stage arrivals and during the sole intermediate sprint in the straight stages.

  3. POINTS SCALE INCREASED IN THE MOUNTAINS For this 2012 edition, points will be awarded to the first ten riders who go over the top of the highest level mountain passes. The points will be doubled for summit finishes.

TV coverage schedule of the 2012 Tour de France
For the schedule of TV coverage of the Tour de France, please read information by Pedal Dancer at How to watch the 2012 Tour de France.
Where to watch the 2012 Tour de France online, and apps
For online live coverage - both Steephill.TV and Cycling Fans compile the best online links for viewing. Steephill.TV also compiles the best list of articles and videos, and photos. The tracker app is this one in Australia - SBS Tour de France Skoda Tour Tracker 2012 at thetourtracker.com/.
And this one in the United States: TourdeTrance.nbcsports.com/

Twitter: If there is any one person I would recommend following on Twitter it would be Aussie Edy Budicin @edbud68, he sorts through and offers the best he finds out on the web and on Twitter - he will point you straight to the good stuff without wasting your time. Also the team is producing Backstage Pass videos that should be fun and informative throughout the tour. Maxime Monfort  is also worth a follow, so is Robbie McEwen , and Manuel Quinziato . VeloPeloton will bring you great local photography of the Pyrenees @velopeloton. And of course, please follow me @karenrake.
Pedal Dancer will be at the 2012 Tour de France
I am thrilled to be returning to France and will be attending Stage 10, 11, 13, 16, 17. Follow me on my journey as I photograph and write about my adventures across France.
Classification Jersey Sponsors for the 2012 Tour de France
Read previous TDF educational posts by Pedal Dancer:
Read more TDF related posts by Pedal Dancer:
2012 UCI Professional Cycling Teams (ProTeams) 
2012 ProTeam bikes 
2012 ProTeam wheels and tires 
2012 ProTeam jerseys 
2012 l'Étape du Tour Mondovelo 
An interview with Thomson Bike Tours 
Climbs of 2012 Tour de France - Alps  
Recommended Reading: Tour de France History 
Recommended Reading: 2012 Grand Tours  
Who to follow at the Tour de France - Riders & DS 
Tour de France Prize Money (2010), Updated Prize Money for the Tour de France (2011) 
The best climbs in Europe in the Grand Tours (from 2010, but interesting)
If you plan to travel to France yourself to see the Tour de France, please enjoy Pedal Dancer's FRANCE CYCLING page or the FRANCE TRAVEL page, for more ride information and travel tips. 
If you are interested in the famous climbs in France - please see FRANCE CYCLING
After all those days racing, and they win by seconds (larger view at link)
More great information from other talented folks:
Le Tour 2012 White Jersey Preview: A Light but Powerful Year, by Podium Cafe
Tour de France Wins by Nation by VeloPeloton 
Tour de France on TV by VeloPeloton 
Tour de France – Race Day Viewing Options by VeloPeloton 
Climb Profiles of the 2012 Tour de France by Climb by Bike 
Training Peaks data 2012 Tour de France (race data and analysis)

NOW FANS HAVE 2 OFFICIAL WEBSITES View the traditional old leTour website or view the fancy new leTour website
Trying to remember who wore the jerseys last year? This should help you with your fantasy league picks, although .... 2012 is a whole new year. 
Wearers of the 2011 classification jerseys (larger view at link)