Professional cyclists are amping up their cycling in preparation for the 2012 Tour de France. The event will last from Saturday, Jun. 30 to Sunday, Jul. 22. The Tour de France starts with a short prologue of 6.1 kilometers and ends with a 130 kilometer ride from Rambouillet to Paris Champs-Ã‰lysÃ‰es. In total, the entire tour consists of 20 stages and the prologue covering 3,479 kilometers.
The routes consist of a total of 25 mountain passes ranging from level 1 to the highest level mountain passes or summit finishes. Cyclists competing in the race must concentrate on hill racing to ensure that they are in optimal condition for the competition. Cyclists that have weak straight-aways but strong climbing skills must take advantage of these climbs when they present themselves. The number of passes and summits is comparable to past races. In earlier years there were 23 during the 2011 race, 25 in 2010 and 21 in 2009.
The races include 20 stages with an individual time trial as stage 9 and 19. There are a total of nine plain stages interspersed with four medium mountain passes and five high mountain passes. The higher mountain passes occur at stage 10, 11, 16 and 17. Placing the highest mountain passes toward the end means that cyclists must conserve their energy in the earlier stages to reserve the energy required for the higher elevations.
The short 6 kilometer race will require racers to exert themselves completely and use all the strength available to them. This course consists mainly of long straight stretches with no significant or noteworthy mountain passes and hills referenced for the initial stage
The last stage promises to give spectators with a suspenseful and exciting finish. Consisting of 130 kilometers, similar to the prologue there are no planned hills or mountain passes. Cyclists wishing to compete at the end of the race must conserve enough energy to complete a full sprint.
The Tour de France organizers have selected 18 “Pro Teams” and four invitations. The 22 teams will all start together at the 99th annual Tour de France. Teams from the United States, Belgium, Italy, Spain, France and others will compete for victory.
People to Watch
Cadel Evens won the Tour de France in 2011. Many believe that he is the man to watch for 2012, but other contenders such as Dennis Menchov and Bradley Wiggins also have a significant chance of winning the 2012 Tour de France. Alberto Contador had been a likely candidate to win, but was recently disqualified for two years for failing a drug test. Cycling events can come down to mere seconds between cyclists. Though, usually the top cyclists come in within 30 second to a full minute.
Author: Kevin U.