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Get Ready for the 2012 Tour de France

You may have noticed our love of cycling in this post from a few weeks ago. For many avid cyclists, there’s nothing more exciting than the Tour de France.

When is the Tour de France?

The 99th annual Tour De France runs from Saturday, June 30th through Sunday, July 22nd. There are 20 stages set for this year, covering a total distance of 3,479km (2,329mi). Just to put that in perspective, that’s roughly the same distance you would travel driving from Boston to Salt Lake City. Built into the race are two days for rest, which the riders will undoubtedly need. Of the 20 stages, two are time trials, 9 are flat, and the remaining 9 are mountain stages. Of those 9, 3 have the finish line positioned at the summit, which means the riders get to ride all the way up, and don’t even get to enjoy the lovely decent! Click here for a map of the tour.

2012 Tour de FranceWhether you cycle or not, you can’t ignore the sheer athleticism that takes to complete the race. The enormous amount of self discipline, hard work, and determination that it takes to win is truly incredible, and is just one reason that doping is strictly forbidden. No sport this demanding on the human body would be without its fair share of drama. Alberto Contador, widely considered to be the best climbing specialist in the world, was recently stripped of his 2010 title after it was revealed that he had been using performance enhancing drugs. He is currently banned from the race, a shame since he won in 2007 and 2009 without the help of illegal enhancement.

Last year’s winner, the 35 year old Cadel Evans, was the first Australian to win the race, and also the oldest man in 88 years to ride to victory! One name to watch will definitely be Andy Schleck. The 26 year old Luxembourg native was the runner up in 2009, and was recently promoted to the winner of the 2010 race when Contador was banned. Of course the man with the most wins on the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong, has officially retired, but you can be sure he will be watching the race with a fond nostalgia.

What are your plans for the Tour de France this year? Will you be watching to see who can capture the yellow jersey? If you plan to visit and need a rental car in France, be sure to book soon.

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