The Tour de France  - 2012

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Tour de France cycle race
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The Tour de France

 France's greatest sporting event 

Cycling is a great tradition in France - specially when it comes to "le Tour". Each year, hundreds of thousands of locals and holidaymakers turn up in spots all round France to watch not just the cyclists, but also the great "caravan" of floats, cars, media and officals go by...

2012 - Final result
The 2012 Tour is now over, and for the first time ever the race was won by a Briton. Favourite Bradley Wiggins  won the 99th Tour de France, ahead of fellow Briton and team mate Chris Froom. The final day of the race was a great day for British cyclists, with Mark Cavendish, another UK contestant, winning the day's leg.      French cyclists were not left out of the results of what has become a completely international event. Two up-and-coming French riders came in in the top ten, and French rider Thomas Voeckler won the mountain stages title.

   Le Tour        2012       the route  

Tour de France 2012 route map in English
Tour de France route map by About-France.com .
Copying permitted only by permission. 
The route of the 2012 Tour de France
Starting in Belgium, the Tour is in France from stage 3 onwards. From 3rd - 5th July, riders will be in northern France; from the 6th - 9th July they will be in rather hillier eastern France, with, in particular, a finish at the summit of La Planche in the Vosges mountains on Sat 7th. The first time trials are around Besan�on, in the Franche Comt� region on Monday 9th July.
  From 11th July to 13th July, riders will be attacking the high hills of the Bugey and the Alps.  France's national day, 14th July, will see them sweating it out in the dry Mediterranean hinterland, between St. Paul Trois Chateaux, in the Rhone valley, and Cap d'Agde on the Languedoc coast.
   From 15th - 19th July, the race comes to the Pyrenees, firstly the foothills, then the high Pyrenees.  On 20th July, riders head north from Blagnac - a suburb of Toulouse - to Brive la Gaillarde, through the gentle hills of Gascony and Quercy.  Then it's back for two days close to Paris, Saturday 21st for time trials near Chartres, and Sunday for the final sprint from Rambouillet to the finish on the Champs Elys�es.

Click for Cycling in France
A guide to cycling in France: rules, long-distance cycle routes, essential cycling vocabulary, and more
     The race can be watched anywhere along the route: near the start of the day's leg, riders tend to be very bunched, and the actual race passes in about a minute. Towards the end of a leg, riders are more spaced out, so the thrill of the race lasts longer. However most of the spectacle comes not from the riders themselves, but from the "caravan", an hour-or-more long procession of cars, floats and motorcycles from the Tour's sponsors and the teams. It's all very commercial, with freebies being thrown out to the spectators; cheap baseball caps, little packs of sweets, mini-pretzels, keyrings and other gimmicks. It's interesting to watch, and the kids love it. But if its the actual race you want to see, then it's far better to watch it on TV where the cameras follow the riders from start to finish.

Cycling is not just the Tour de France, but is a popular leisure activity. Click for more information on cycling in France and France's network of cycleways.

The 2012 Tour de France route stage by stage

Stage Date Day’s route (towns, regions) and terrain Length in Km.
Prologue Sat 30th June Li�ge - Belgium 6 km
1st Stage Sun 1 July Li�ge - Seraing  (Belgium)  - mixed

198 km

2nd Stage Mon 2 July Vis� - Tournai  - fairly flat 207 km
3rd  Stage Tues 3 July Orchies - Boulogne sur Mer  (Nord - Pas de Calais)  fairly flat, some small hills .197 km
4th Stage Wed 4 July Abbeville (Picardy) - Rouen (Normandy) hills and valleys 214 km.
5th Stage Thur 5 July Rouen (Normandy)  - Saint Quentin  (Picardy) - undulating then flat .197 km.
6th Stage Fri 6 July Epernay (Champagne) - Metz (Lorraine) - flattish to undulating 210 km.
7th Stage Sat 7 July Tomblaine (Lorraine) - La Planche des Belles Filles (Franche Comt�) - hilly, getting steeper - arrival at a summit in the Vosges mountains 199 km.
8th Stage Sun 8 July  Belfort (Franche Comt�)  - Porrentruy (Switzerland) - hills and valleys 154 km.
9th Stage Mon 9 July Arc et Senans - Besan�on  (Franche Comt�)
Time trials - gently hilly
38 km.
Rest Day
Tue 10 July  Macon - (Burgundy)
10th Stage

Wed 11 July Macon (Burgundy) - Bellegarde sur Valserine (Rh�ne-Alpes)  flat, then properly hilly 194 km.
11th Stage Thur 12 July Albertville - La Toussouire  (Rh�ne-Alpes)
First Alpine stage - mountainous. Summit finish
.140 km
12th Stage Fri 13 July Saint Jean de Maurienne - Annonay  (Rh�ne-Alpes)  Second Alpine stage - less mountainous 220 km.
13th Stage Sat 14 July Saint-Paul Trois Ch�teaux (Rh�ne-Alpes)  - Cap d'Agde (Languedoc-Roussillon) Mediterranean hills - could be very hot. 215 km.
14th Stage Sun 15 July Limoux (Languedoc-Roussillon) -  Foix (Midi-Pyr�n�es)  getting hillier 192 km.
15th Stage Mon 16 July   Samatan (Midi-Pyr�n�es) -  Pau (Aquitaine) 160m.
  Rest day Tues 17 July .Pau none

16th Stage

Wed 18 July Pau (Aquitaine)  -  Bagn�res de Luchon (Midi-Pyr�n�es) - into the Pyrenees.  Mountainous 197 km.
17th Stage Thur 19 July  Bagn�res de Luchon - Peyragudes  (Midi-Pyr�n�es)  - Mountainous. Summit finish 144 km.
18th Stage Fri 20 July Blagnac (Midi-Pyr�n�es) - Brive la Gaillarde (Limousin) - fairly flat at first, then hilly 215 km
19th Stage Sat 21 July Bonneval - Chartres  (R�gion Centre)  - virtually flat  -  Time trials 52 km
20th Stage Sun 22 July Rambouillet – Paris (Ile de France) 130 km.

Total length: 3,479 km

For the record: route of the The Tour de France 2008 : Tour de France 2009
Tour de France 2010  :  Tour de France 2011

Tour de France - leaderWith almost 200 cyclists, including many of the world's best, the Tour de France - which first took place in 1903 - is certainly a great sporting event; nonetheless, it is an event that has been marred - even heavily marred - in recent years by doping scandals, with cyclists proving positive in anti-doping tests. The 2008 race was no different from others, and at a small number of competitors were withdrawn from the race following a positive doping test.
   Yet in spite of the doping scandals, and the withdrawal in recent years of certain major teams, the "Tour" goes on, and it is difficult to imagine how it could not. This mega sporting event is worth millions of Euros in advertising, sponsorship and worldwide television rights, attracts millions of spectators, and is one of Europe's great media circus acts.
   For the hundreds of thousands who turn up to line the route, the cycling is actually only a tiny bit of the show: While the time-trial races may offer a more long-drawn-out cycling experience for spectators, with competitors taking part one by one, on normal race days the riders may go past in just a minute, especially in the earlier part of a day's leg, before the participants have become more spaced out. But then, the actual race is just a small part of the show. Starting some two hours before the race, the "Caravan" is a cavalcade of floats, decorated cars and other vehicles that moves along the route, throwing out goodies and free samples to the spectators; it is a massive advertising stunt. The advertising caravan, made up of the Tour's official sponsors, is followed by a long line of official cars, technical vehicles, media and motorbikes, lights flashing, horns sounding, all warming up the spectators for the actual event itself. Then, at last, the riders come by - and are gone again as quickly as they appeared, pounding uphill or downhill at speeds that can reach 50 mph or more. A bit of an anti-climax.... And with that, the day's excitement is over.
   Anyone wanting to watch the race in a serious manner would be well advised to do so on television; but for a day's outing, with all the fun of the crowds, the waiting, the caravan, and the atmosphere, watching the Tour go by is as good as many other events, and what's more it's free.
    The Tour can be watched all over France, and each year the route is different, taking in at least one leg in another country.
      If you go to watch the Tour, specially with kids, take care! Don't let children stand too close to the road, and never cross the road while the caravan is passing.

     Tourists wanting to book holiday accommodation along the route are advised to do so early.
Click here for holiday cottages or for bed and breakfast accommodation in France.

Visit the Official site of the tour de France

Tourist attractions in France, by region :

France in general:
The main historic monuments and tourist attractions in France   

Follow these links for a more detailed list of major tourist attractions in the following regions:
Paris tourist attractions
          Things to see and do in Languedoc-Roussillon
           Tourist attractions in Limousin
            Tourist sites in the Midi-Pyrenees region
             Tourist attractions in Normandy
              Tourist sites in the Pays de la Loire

    A brief introduction to the regions of France

Accommodation for the Tour de France
All hotel rooms in and around the start and finish points get booked up very fast by the teams and the media.
To avoid disappointment, check out available hotel rooms as soon as possible,  using the major online portals  booking.com  or Hotels.com

Gites and holiday cottages in France direct from the owners

Copyright About-France.com 2012

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