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Before the 2012 Tour de France even got underway, British rider Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky was projected as the clear favorite to win it all. 22 days and 20 stages later, Wiggins did indeed climb the podium in the yellow jersey to become the first Briton to ever win the general classification at the most prestigious cycling event in the world.
Wiggins knew heading into the race that his biggest competition would be 2011 winner Cadel Evans. Wiggins and Team Sky teammate (and eventual runner-up) Chris Froome were able to continually hold Evans at bay and gradually pad their lead throughout the Tour. Wiggins eventually ended up winning by over three minutes.
In the points classification, Peter Sagan literally sprinted away with the green jersey, thanks in part to winning three separate stages during the Tour. He finished 141 points higher than runner-up Andre Greipel.
Britian's Bradley Wiggins was looking to make history as the 2012 Tour de France officially came to a close on Sunday. He had already been dubbed the champion a day before after his domineering time trial, becoming the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France, maintaing the yellow jersey during Sunday's final ride into beautiful Paris.
Not to be greedy, Wiggins also helped fellow Sky teammate Mark Cavendish earn his fourth straight sprint victory on the historic Champs-Elysees.Wiggins dominated on Saturday's final time trial to extend his lead past the other rider's reach. Fellow Briton and Sky teammate Christopher Froome finished second, 3 minutes, 21 seconds behind overall.
The last time two cyclists from the same nation finished first and second in the Tour was in 1984, when Frenchmen Laurent Fignon defeated Bernard Hinault.
For more on the Tour de France and the wonderful world of cycling in general, make sure that you head on over to SB Nation's hopelessly devoted cycling blog, Podium Cafe.
Stage 20 of the 2012 Tour de France is the traditional final stage, a 120km run from Rambouillet to Paris that concludes with eight high speed laps around Champs-Élysées and a sprint finish. Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins has a secure hold on the Yellow Jersey, the General Classification is extremely unlikely to see a change in Sunday's stage.
With the GC title decided, Sunday's stage is for the sprinters. Mark Cavendish (Sky) holds the record for Champs-Élysées victories, having won the last three years running. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) is likely to give him some serious competition this year. Sagan will win the Green Jersey in the points competition and a win in the final sprint would be a fine cap on his first Tour de France.
Television coverage of the event begins at 5 a.m. on the NBC Sports Network, with a recap of the entire Tour on NBC at 10 a.m. Streaming coverage is provided via Tour de France Live, subscription required.
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) rode away with the 2012 Tour de France in Stage 19, winning the stage by more than a minute and gaining more than four minutes on his closest rival. Teammate Christopher Froome finished second on the stage, with Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) taking third. When the overall victory becomes official on Sunday Wiggins will become the first British cyclist to ever win the Tour de France.
Wiggins dominated both major time trials in the race, and came in second in the less significant opener. He was tested by his opponents in the mountains, but with the help of Froome was able to counter every attack. Froome will join Wiggins on the podium, finishing second overall, and things are rounded out by Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) in third.
Tyler Farrar of Wenatchee, WA will finish the race, something not every sprint specialist can say. Aside from that, though, he has to be disappointed. Unless he can turn things around on Sunday he will finish with no stage wins and nowhere near contention in the Points Competition. Bend, Oregon's Chris Horner found a bit more success. He finished 44th on Stage 19 and will likely finish the race in the top 15, a good result for the veteran.
As the 2012 Tour de France is drawing near a close, Englishman Bradley Wiggins is looking good so far with the yellow jersey, hoping to keep it on the rest of the way.But he wasn't the only member of team sky that finished well on Friday as teammate Mark Cavendish sprinted to the finish line to claim the 18th stage.
Cavendish, the winner of the second stage this year back in Belgium, took the 222.5 kms stage by powering past the likes of other breakaway riders like Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez and Ireland's Nicolas Roche. This marks the fifth victory by a Briton on this Tour and the fourth by a Team Sky rider just one week ahead of the Olympic road race in London.
There was a bit of drama after a crash caused by a dog running out on the road, sending Belgium's Philippe Gilbert, Russia's Denis Menchov and France's Arthur Vichot to the ground hard. Gilbert was sent to hospital with a suspected hand fracture.
For cycling news throughout the year, check out Podium Cafe.
At 222.5 km long, Stage 18 is the second longest stage in the entire tour, and figures to add a bit of intrigue to the closing of the race as well. The route between Blagnac and Brive-la-Gaillarde shines for sprinters who can get out ahead over the first 117 km before the hills kick in. It should make for a wild finish, as the final 10 km are virtually all downhill (full details of the map are here).
The layout of this stage begs for a sprint finish and it will be the question of whose legs are still able to hold up after such a long stage this deep into the race. But 14 teams are still without a victory, and although it appears Bradley Wiggins is quite close to locking up a victory, there are still some individual chances for glory left.
Coverage of the 2012 Tour De France can be found on NBC Sports Network starting around 5 a.m. PT. You should also have the opportunity to watch it online via a subscription with NBC Sports.
As the 2012 Tour de France draws nearer to a close, Englishman Bradley Wiggins used some skillful riding in the mountains to retain the yellow jersey with just a few stages remaining. Nevertheless, it was Spain's Alejandro Valverde to claim the 17th stage as they riders head back towards Paris.
Valverde was strong during the 89-mile ride from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes on Thursday, chocked full with three hard climbs and an difficult uphill finish. Valverde, who returned from a two-year doping ban this year, won his third Tour stage.
As Wiggins tries to become the first Brit to win cycling's biggest race, the 32-year old holds a 2 minute, 5 seconds lead over the rest of the field.
The finish of the race consists of a pair of flat stages on Friday and Sunday, including the ride to the finish line on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The 18th stage on Friday is a 137-mile ride from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde in central France.
For more on the 2012 Tour de France, make sure to check out Podium Cafe.
In terms of tension, we're probably getting as close as we can to the climactic points of the 2012 Tour de France. There aren't many stages after this one, and all of them figure to ensure the leader doesn't stand to lose his lead. If a move is to be made, it'll have to happen in this one final dash up the Pyrénées.
At 143.5 kilometers, Stage 17 is one of the shortest throughout the entire race, but it's a very tough slog as there's a lot of ascending, some descending, and then extreme ascending to cap off the race.There could be a lot of shifting occurring between the start of the race at Bagnères-de-Luchon and the end of the race at Peyregudes (click here to view the map). Will Bradley Wiggins remain at the top fo the pack regardless?
Coverage of the 2012 Tour De France can be found on NBC Sports Network starting around 5 a.m. PT. You should also have the opportunity to watch it online via a subscription with NBC Sports.
Stage 16 of the 2012 Tour de France will begin on Wednesday morning. The ride will take the cyclists from Pau to Bagnéres-de-Luchon, which spans across 197 kilometers. That's the second-longest remaining stage on the Tour, and it's sure to be an interesting ride as they go through the high mountains.
Bradley Wiggins currently leads the field by two minutes and five seconds over Christopher Froome and others.. Pierrick Fedrigo won Stage 15 of the Tour, but he is nowhere near Wiggins on the leaderboard. The riders had a much-needed rest day on Tuesday.
As for Wednesday, you can find Stage 16 televised live on NBC Sports Network. Check local listings for the station in your area. Everything is set to begin at 3:30 a.m. PST. That's 6:30 a.m. for you folks on the east coast.
ESPN is reportingthat Frank Schleck of Luxemborg failed a drug test on Tuesday and will withdraw from the Tour de France.
The 32-year-old RadioShack Nissan Trek leader finished third in the 2011 Tour de France and was 12th overall this year, 9 minutes and 45 seconds behind Bradley Wiggins.
Schleck tested positive for the diuretic Xipamide on a sample taken on July 14th. The Radioshack team decided to withdraw Schleck from the race as the diuretic wasn't in any medicine used by the squad.
Team spokesman Philippe Maertens said Schleck had gone to the Pau police station of his own accord to cooperate with authorities. Maertens said the rider knew police would likely be coming for him.
Radioshack will still compete in the race but will struggle to remain competitive without their top rider.
The best cyclists in the world have one more week -- just seven more days and six more stages -- in which to make a run at the 2012 Tour de France title. Heading into Stage 15 on Monday, Bradley Wiggins remains the general classification leader and holds the prestigious yellow jersey. He leads by over two minutes.
Monday's Stage 15 is a 158.5km ride from Samatan to Pau. There are only three major climbs in the route, none of which is particularly challenging. This should be a relatively simple ride heading into the final rest day and a sprint finish is expected as the trailers in the general classification will attempt to attack and make up time.
Television Coverage: NBC Sports Network starting at 5 a.m. PT
Streaming Coverage: Available via NBC Sports, with subscription
With some cooler conditions and light rain coming down for the 14th stage of the 2012 Tour de France, the added variables could have had a number of repurcussions for the riders. But despite a wrist injury suffered earlier in the week, Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez battled to claim the 14th stage of the Tour de France on Sunday as the race entered the Pyrenees mountain range.
The Spaniard one of a new riders who broke away in the day's final ascent, the Mur de Peguere. It was the fourth time in his career he has won a stage at the Tour de France.
Britain's Bradley Wiggins is expected to keep the yellow jersey as he trailed a breakaway group that included Sanchez riders by more than 15 minutes.
Peter Sagan of Slovakia finished second, a full 47 seconds behind Sanchez. France's finished third in the same time.
Sagan and two other riders managed to escape from the pack after 22 miles on the descent, though eight riders, including Philippe Gilbert and Sanchez, broke away in pursuit and closed the gap. The second pack caught up with the yellow jersey's group after 34 miles.
Sunday brings us Stage 14 of the 2012 Tour de France, a 191km run from Limoux to Foix. It's a high mountain stage with two Category 1 climbs in the second half of the race, but as far as high mountain stages go it's less severe than others. That means we're unlikely to see much of a change in the GC standings, but there's plenty of opportunity for a daring rider to make off with the stage victory.
Young riders may find themselves willing to take chances on treacherous descents, trying to make a mark on the race. French riders are always waiting for opportunities to impress in the national race, and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) is a strong rider who surely wants to represent France in its own race. With mountains just tall enough to make a difference but not so tall that the heavyweights have to make their move, Stage 14 presents a big opportunity for lesser known riders to make a bid for the win.
Television Coverage: NBC Sports Network starting at 5 a.m. PT
Streaming Coverage: Available via NBC Sports, with subscription
Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) collected his third stage win of the 2012 Tour de France, taking the sprint win in Stage 13 over Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale). It was as close as can be at the line, but Greipel thrust his bike forward and crossed just ahead of Sagan. Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen came in third.
Overall leader Bradley Wiggins kept his hold on the yellow jersey for another day, as he was able to stay with the lead group when the peloton split and fend off an attack from 2011 champion Cadel Evans (BMC). The split came when the peloton encountered strong winds and a short, nasty climb in the final 20km of the race, and a number of strong sprinters were cut off from contention when they struggled with the climb. Among those left out was Washington native Tyler Farrar, who finished the stage more than 12 minutes down.
The 2012 Tour de France is more than halfway over at this point, and we'll see stage 13 commence on Saturday morning. The cyclists will ride from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chåteaux to Le Cap D'agde, which spans 217 kilometers. Bradley Wiggins is your current leader, and he holds a lead of two minutes and five seconds over the field.
Here is a map of where the cyclists will be on Saturday. It should be a beautiful day for racing.
As for where you can catch all of the action on NBC Sports Network at 5 a.m. PST. That's a 8 a.m. start for you folks on the east coast. They'll also re-air the action on tape delay a bit later in the evening.
British veteran rider David Millar led a five-man breakaway to take the yellow jersey in the 12th and longest stage of the Tour de France on Friday, setting himself up nicely for the sea-side stretch of the race.
Fellow Brit Bradley Wiggins retained the overall leader's yellow jersey, just about 8 minutes back of the breakaway bunch from Thursday's action. The 140-mile ride from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay-Davezieux featured two big climbs as the race winded it way out of the French Alps.
The 35-year-old Millar edged Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud at the finish line, mere seconds ahead of three other racers. Millar collected his fourth career Tour stage victory, though it was his first since 2003. He also became the fourth Brit to win a Tour stage this year after Mark Cavendish, Christopher Froome and Wiggins.
The race moves towards the Mediterranean on Saturday for France's July 14 national holiday, Bastille Day, with a 135-mile sprint from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to the coastal resort of Le Cap d'Agde.
The Tour de France continues on Friday after Pierre Rolland won Stage 11 on Thursday. The riders move on to stage 12 starting at Saint-Jean-de-Maurine and ending at Annonay Davezieux. The 226km stage is the longest among all stages, and will provide a challenge at the beginning of its course.
The Col du Grand Cucheron and the Col du Granier both will take the riders up to an elevation above 1000 meters, however, after these two peaks, the course is downhill. The sprinters should be able to make up some ground during this stage if they end up successfully executing their individual strategies.
After an arduous challenge was presented toward the cyclists in Stage 10, the mountains keep on coming in Stage 11 of the 2012 Tour de France. It's a short stage in terms of overall horizontal distance with 148 km traversed, but it involved so many climbs with slight drops with barely any flat terrain to cover. There could be as much as a 9.5% incline steep raise and about a 6% average climb.
The race begins in Albertville and finishes in La Toussuire-Les Sybelles. You can start watching the 11th stage of the Tour at around 4 a.m. PT on the NBC Sports Network. Fans will also be able to watch the Tour online with a subscription to Tour de France Live.
Check out the course that the cyclists will have to traverse in Stage 11 by checking out the YouTube video below courtesy of SB Nation Studios.
The 2012 Tour de France is off to a great start, and after a much needed rest day on Tuesday took place, the 10th stage will commence on Wednesday morning. Bradley Wiggins currently owns the yellow jersey, but with the mountains stages set to arrive you can bet there will be many challenging for that top spot on the leaderboard.
Here is a map of where the cyclists will ride on Wednesday. It's a 194.5km from start to finish.
In addition to this map, be sure to check out the visual tour listed below.
You can find stage 10 of the Tour aired live on NBC Sports Network. Their coverage will begin at 8 a.m. ET / 5 a.m. PT.
Check back with the SB Nation Seattle StoryStream for continued updates, results and late-breaking news from the 2012 Tour de France. For all things cycling throughout the year, head over to Podium Cafe.
The Associated Press is reporting police made their move on the Tour's first rest day in arresting Cofidis cyclist Remy Di Gregorio, with judicial officials saying two other people suspected of supplying the Frenchman with the dope were also arrested. One of them was arrested along with the Gregorio in Bourg-en-Bresse, and another in Marseille.
"(The police) have followed Remy's actions for a good while,'' Cofidis manager Yvon Sanquer said at a news conference. "If I had ever been aware or anyone else had been aware, Remy's time with the team would have been over the very moment when we learned of it."
Sanquer said Di Gregorio's teammates reacted with a mix of "anger and devastation ... when I explained the situation to them, it was painful for them. There were tears."
Cycling has suffered the burden of doping scandals for a while now, with riders from the most notable Lance Armstrong to others being linked to banned substance use.
Stage 9 of the 2012 Tour de France takes place on Monday. After 10 days of racing, a time trial will precede a rest day before the highly-anticipated Stage 10. The 10th stage will be the first day of intense and back-breaking climbing, which will feature the riders ascending a mountain that has never been part of the Tour before and defies classification.
Stage 9, by comparison, will be a lovely reprieve. The 41.5km route will stretch from Arc-et-Senans to Besancon and will pass numerous French landmarks. Still, the time trial will be crucial in setting the field for Stage 10 and what lies beyond. This stage could be considered the end of Act 1, with Act 2 about to begin in earnest.
Monday's stage will be televised on NBC Sports Network beginning at 5 a.m. PT.
The eighth leg of the 2012 Tour de France was completed on Sunday afternoon, and it was Bradley Wiggins who continued leading the field after a second place finish. Wiggins had held the yellow jersey for two legs now and has a 10 second lead over the second place cyclist, Cadel Evans.
The winner of stage eight: Thibaut Pinot. He won the stage with a 26-second lead over the eight who finished tied for eighth. Despite his dominating performance on Sunday, Pinot still sits outside of the top-10 in the overall standings.
The ninth stage of the 2012 Tour de France will begin on Monday morning. It'll take the riders just 41.5km before their day off on Tuesday. They'll ride from Arc-et-Senans to Besançon in what isn't an overly challenging and scenic ride.
Stage 8 of the 2012 Tour de France is 157.5 rolling kilometers from Belfort to Porrentruy, a trip over seven categorized climbs that offers the best chance so far for a determined breakaway. Things get underway almost immediately, with a Category 4 climb just 20km in. A Cat 3 climb follows, leading into four Cat 2 climbs stretched through the stage, and finally wrapping up with a steep climb up the Col de la Croix just 16km from the finish.
Young riders, those on teams that haven't made a mark yet, and French riders looking to impress the home fans will all have their eyes on a Stage 8 victory. That said, there are plenty of veterans on the Tour who know just when to time an attack on a stage life this. The stage is anyone's to win, but whoever takes it will need their legs.
Television Coverage: NBC beginning at 5 a.m. PT
Streaming Coverage: Online Streaming via NBC Sports, with subscription.
Bradley Wiggins is now the overall leader at the 2012 Tour de France after the seventh stage of the race. He finished in third place overall, just two seconds behind the winner, Christopher Froome. This marks the first time on the Tour that someone other than Fabian Cancellara has held a lead.
Froome won the seventh stage in four hours, 58 minutes and 35 seconds. In what was a true test of strength and endurance on an uphill finish, Froome really made a statement with his victory. He now sits in ninth place overall, one minute and 32 seconds back of the leader.
Stage eight of the 2012 Tour de France will commence on Sunday. It'll take the cyclists from Belfort to Porrentruy.
Stage 7 of the 2012 Tour de France takes place on Saturday. The route, which begins in Tomblaine and continues up to a ski lodge in the hills, will be appearing for the first time in the history of the Tour. This is expected to be a prelude to the rough mountain stretches that begin in earnest in Stage 10 and will be anything but a cakewalk for local riders Tyler Farrar and Chris Horner, to say nothing of the rest of the field.
There will be three big climbs over the course of the 199 km Stage 7, the last being an arduous 6 km climb to the finish line at La Planche des Belles Filles, which the official Tour de France website helpfully illustrates:
Fabian Cancellara is not known for being exceptionally strong on the hills, so Stage 7 may very well mark the first time he relinquishes the yellow jersey since winning it in the Prologue.
Saturday's Stage 7 will be the first stage this year to be televised live on national network television. The coverage starts at 5:00 a.m. PT on NBC. Streaming coverage will be available via NBC Sports.
During Stage 6 of the 2012 Tour de France on Friday, the day was marred by a massive crash that split the peloton with about 26 km left. Close to 100 riders were apparently involved in the crash, with varying degrees of injury and bicycle damage. Major names involved in the crash included Ryder Hesjedal, Mark Cavendish and Frank Schleck. Hesjedal lost almost 13 minutes off the pace and Schleck may not be able to overcome his time lost and return to contention.
At the finish line, Andre Greipel's team was making a push for the stage win, which would have been the third straigt for Greipel. Unfortunately, chain issues allowed Peter Sagan to catch and overtake Greipel and pick up the stage win. Fabian Cancellara remains the general classification leader and will retain the yellow jersey for at least one more day.
Here are the general classification standings following Friday's Stage 6:
1. Fabian Cancellara 29:22:36
2. Bradley Wiggins, 7 sec. behind leader
3. Sylvain Chavanel, 7 sec.
4. Tejay van Garderen, 10 sec.
5. Denis Menchov, 13 sec.
6. Cadel Evans, 17 sec.
7. Vincenzo Nibali, 18 sec.
8. Peter Sagan, 19 sec.
9. Andreas Klöden, 19 sec.
10. Maxime Monfort, 22 sec.
André Greipel of Team Lotto Belisol won his second career Tour de France stage on Wednesday, taking a sprint victory in Stage 4 of the 2012 Tour de France. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) and Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) were the men he beat, coming in second and third respectively.
A crash with just 2.5km left in the race took out many of the heavy hitters, including Mark Cavendish, who went down in the crash, and Peter Sagan, who ended up stuck behind the pileup. Lotto Belisol managed to avoid the carnage, which left their team in pefect position to set up a leadout train and deliver Greipel to the line for the win. Also shut out of contention for the stage victory was local rider Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp). The Wenatchee, Washington native avoided the crash but was stuck in the resulting traffic jam.
The Generall Classification standings saw no real change in the stage, with Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan) still in the lead and defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) 17 seconds out. Pacific Northwest native Chris Horner (Radioshack-Nissan) is currently in a respectable but distant position, 1:29 out of the lead.
The General Classification after Stage 4:
1) Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan 20:04:02
2) Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling +:07
3) Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
4) Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team +:10
5) Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling +:11
6) Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team +:13
7) Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team +:17
8) Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale +:18
9) Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Sharp
10)Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan +:19
The fourth stage of the 2012 Tour de France will take place on Wednesday, July 4 from Abbeville to Rouen in what promises to be a great day of racing. The current leader after three stages is Fabian Cancellara, who holds a seven second lead over Bradley Wiggins and Sylvain Chavanel. You can find the complete standings for the Tour de France here.
Route: Here is where the cyclists will be on Wednesday for stage four. It'll be a beautiful ride down the coast filled with great viewpoints, and is also one of the longest stages of the tour at 214.5 km.
Television Coverage: NBC Sports Network will begin showing stage four at 5 a.m. PDT.
Online Streaming: You can find all of the live action online via NBC Sports
Mark Cavendish was neck and neck with a lot of other riders today and narrowly pulled off a victory over a mostly flat 129-mile across Belgium today to win the second stage of the Tour de France. Fabian Cancellara retained the overall leader's yellow jersey.
Cavendish collected his 21st Tour stage victory as he literally lunged forward at the finish line to just barely push past defending champion Andre Greipel and Matthew Goss..
Cavendish is known for his ability in Tour sprints, and he has also won three stages in the Giro d'Italia and two in the Tour of Oman this year.
Fabian Cancellara remains seven seconds ahead of Wiggins as the rest of the top ten riders remained unchanged.
1. Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) RadioShack-Nissan
2. Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) Team Sky
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Franace) Omega-Pharma-QuickStep
4. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) Team Sky
6. Denis Menchov (Russia) Katusha
7. Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) BMC
8. Cadel Evans (Australia) BMC
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Canada) Garmin-Sharp
Local product Tyler Farrar from Wenatchee, Washington is in 148th place at 3:53 seconds back.
Stage 2 of the 2012 Tour de France is a flat run from Visé to Tournai, 207.5km that should end in a classic bunch sprint. The route, television coverage and online streaming information are all below.
The long, flat stage will likely see a breakaway spend most of the day in front, but expect the peloton to pull them back before the finish line and teams to rush to set up their sprinters for a crack at the victory. No conversation of sprinters goes without mentioning Mark Cavendish (Sky), and the British rider will surely be gunning for victory on Monday. He won't be alone: Stage 1 winner Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) will be looking to continue his ascent into elite sprinter status, and men like Pacific Northwest native Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) will be just as eager to make their mark at the tour.
The GC standings are unlikely to move much in the stage, though tour leader Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan) will have to be mindful that no one sneaks away with the stage. He'll have his team in support of that, including another Pacific Northwest rider, Chris Horner.
Television Coverage: NBC Sports Network beginning at 5 a.m. PDT.
Online Streaming: Streaming coverage available via NBC Sports
22 year old Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) took his first career Tour de France stage victory on Sunday, winning a sprint finish over overall leader Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan). Cancellara took off for the line with 1.5km left to go, but Sagan latched on to his wheel and easily came around the yellow jersey holder for the win. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) took third. A breakaway spent most off the day off the front, but Team Radioshack-Nissan made sure to preserve Cancellara's lead. Pacific Northwest native Chris Horner and teammates spent much of the day on the front, and the breakaway was caught with 9km left to go. There was no change in the top five of the General Classification.
The other local area representative in the race, Tyler Farrar of Team Garmin-Sharp had an uneventful day in the saddle. Farrar likely would have contended in a bunch sprint, but Cancellara's move prevented that and Farrar finished with the pack. Defending champion Cadel Evans (Team BMC) also had a calm day, avoiding any trouble and remaining in a solid GC position.
The General Classification after Stage 1:
1) Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) 5:05:32
2) Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) +:07
3) Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) +:07
4) Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) +:10
5) Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling) +:11
6) Denis Menchov (Katusha Team) +:13
7) Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) +:13
8) Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) +:17
9) Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) +:18
10) Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin - Sharp) +:18
The prologue of the 2012 Tour de France has been completed and Sunday will mark the riding of the first stage in the Tour proper. Fabian Cancellara will enter the opening stage wearing the yellow jersey for the fifth time in his career.
Stage 1 will begin at 5:00 a.m. PT and will be televised on NBC Sports Network. At 1:00 p.m. PT, NBC will air a recap and highlight show.
The circuitous route that starts and ends within the Province of Liege in Belgium will represent a good mix of terrain for the riders, as they will climb to 606 meters on the Baraque de Fraiture near the middle of the 198 km stage before finishing in the streets of Seraing.
Viewers in the Northwest will need to get up early or set their DVR, but this will be the first stage in which to really cheer on local riders Chris Horner and Tyler Farrar.
Here is the route from Liege to Seraing that the riders will cover in Stage 1:
Fabian Cancellara won the Prologue of the 2012 Tour de France, making it the fifth Tour Prologue win for the former world time trial champion. The Swiss rider had a monster run, finishing the short course a full seven seconds ahead of second place finisher Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky). To give some sense of perspective, seven seconds past Wiggins' time was enough to fit the next 10 men in the standings.
Pacific Northwest local Tyler Farrar of Team Garmin-Sharp finished 21 seconds back, good for 30th place. As a sprinter, he'll have his eye on flat stages like Sunday's Stage 1. Chris Horner (Radioshack-Nissan), another local, finished in 113th place, 34 seconds out of the lead.
Defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) finished nine seconds down on Cancellara, leaving him in 13th place. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Denis Menchov (Katusha) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) were other contenders who had a good day, while Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Frank Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan) both had dissapointing runs, finishing 28 and 38 seconds out, respectively.
The 2012 Tour de France officially begins early on Saturday. (Early here on the West Coast, at any rate.) As the world's premiere cyclists gather for the prologue stage in Liege, Belgium, among them will be two Northwestern riders. Tyler Farrar will be part of the Garmin-Barracuda team and will be riding in support of Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal. Chris Horner, meanwhile, will be gunning for the yellow jersey himself as part of the Radioshack-Nissan Trek team.
The first stage on Saturday will consist of an individual time trial that is mostly for bragging rights, but will nonetheless be a worthwhile watch to get the Tour started. The prologue stage will be an almost entirely flat 6.4-kilometer race through the streets of Liege that should take each rider approximately eight minutes to complete.
NBC Sports Network will provide live coverage of the prologue stage on Saturday morning beginning at 5:00 a.m. PT.
When the Tour de France kicks off on Saturday, Tyler Farrar and Chris Horner will represent the Northwest while riding for their respective teams in the most famous and grueling bike race in the world. Even if you don't have cable, you still have a way to watch the entire Tour and cheer on the local boys along the way.
All the action will be available with a subscription to NBC Sports' Tour de France Live. Users have two subscription options -- they can either purchase a pass for the entire 2012 Tour de France for $29.99, or they can pay $4.99 per stage. All Tour de France Live coverage will be archived and available on demand until August 31.
The service is a solid deal if you pick up the bundle for all 20 stages, especially considering that Tour de France Live allows you to stream and track the race across a number of mobile platforms.
Tyler Farrar is one of two Northwestern cyclists who will be riding in the 2012 Tour de France. While Farrar will not personally be gunning for the yellow jersey (or at least, that is not the plan), his Garmin-Barracuda team has a very distinct chance of leaving the world's biggest cycling event with the top prize in the sport.
Farrar and the rest of the Garmin-Barracuda team will be riding in support of lead cyclist Ryder Hesjedal, who won the 2012 Giro d'Italia. VeloNews relayed the official announcement from Garmin-Barracuda earlier in the week.
"We have put together a well-balanced team with an emphasis on support for our leader, Ryder. We have Christian (Vande Velde) and Tom (Danielson), both excellent climbers who each have had great GC rides in the Tour and have shown their strength in recent racing."
Farrar will be just one member of a very strong team ... one that could end up taking it all.
On June 30, the 2012 Tour de France will get underway. The field seems fairly wide open this year, with plenty of room for a dark horse to make a significant run at capturing the most prestigious championship in cycling.
Alex Malone at Cyclingnews.com believes that the Tour de France will very much be a two-horse race between favorites Bradley Wiggins and defending champion Cadel Evans. Malone suggests that the other three most likely contenders for the yellow jersey are Vincenzo Nibali, Frank Schleck and Robert Gesink, the last of whom captured this year's Tour of California title.
Regarding the competition between front-runners Evans and Wiggins, Malone believes that the single-minded aspirations of Cadel's BMC team for accomplishing nothing other than the yellow jersey will work out in its favor. Wiggins and Sky Procycling have made it clear they're gunning for both the yellow and green jerseys. That split focus may end up working against them.
Chris Horner and Tyler Farrar are the two Northwest riders who will be representing the area in the 2012 Tour de France, which begins on June 30. The early odds are out for the event and Horner seems to have a pretty solid shot to win in the eyes of the oddsmakers.
Farrar is unlikely to win, since his Garmin team will ride in support of lead cyclist Ryder Hesjedal, who captured this year's Giro d'Italia and has 28/1 odds against winning the Tour. Horner, however, has 150/1 odds against winning, which makes him a long shot, but still firmly in the top 20 to be projected to win in what is a very deep field.
Here are the early odds for the 2012 Tour de France:
Bradley Wiggins 5/4
Cadel Evans 9/4
Denis Menchov 14/1
Jurgen Van Den Broeck 22/1
Vincenzo Nibali 22/1
Chris Froome 25/1
Frank Schleck 25/1
Robert Gesink 25/1
Ryder Hesjedal 28/1
Samuel Sanchez 28/1
Alejandro Valverde 33/1
Pierre Rolland 40/1
Jani Brajkovic 50/1
Andreas Kloden 66/1
Tony Martin 66/1
Ivan Basso 80/1
Levi Leipheimer 80/1
Peter Velits 125/1
Chris Horner 150/1
Tyler Farrar and Chris Horner will both be trying to help their teams win the most important race in cycling. The Tour de France begins June 30.