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.