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Updated: October 18, 2011 17:23 IST

Tour de France 2012: Less mountains but two long time trials

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This photo provided by Tour de France organizer ASO shows the map of the 2012 Tour de France cycling race. Organizers mapped out the 3,479-kilometer (2,162-mile) route
AP This photo provided by Tour de France organizer ASO shows the map of the 2012 Tour de France cycling race. Organizers mapped out the 3,479-kilometer (2,162-mile) route "so that more favorites can potentially be in the mix" in the quest for the leader's yellow jersey.

The 2012 Tour de France will feature only three mountain arrivals but two long time trials, organizers said on Tuesday at the unveiling of the route.

The 99th Tour will start on June 30 with a prologue in the Belgian town of Liege and cover 3,479 until its traditional finish on the Champs Elyssee in Paris on July 22. The race will have two rest days.

The 6.1km prologue sets the stage, with the other time trials following over 38km in the ninth stage and on the (likely Tour—deciding) penultimate day over 52km in Chartres.

“There are more time trials and less summit finishes ... It should be a thrilling race,” Tour director Christian Prudhomme said.

Featuring four medium mountain and five high mountain stages, the Tour will pass the Alps first and then the Pyrenees.

While the famous ascent to Alpe d’Huez is not on the stage plan, the riders face a major challenge in the 17.4km ascent to the Col du Grand Colombier, with an average gradient of 17.1 and steep arts of up to 12 per cent.

If he is permitted to ride in connection with a pending Court of Arbitration for Sports hearing over a doping offence, the course should suit former champion Alberto Contador more than holder Cadel Evans and Andy Schleck because he is a better time trial rider.

Sprinters led by world champion and defending green jersey holder Mark Cavendish will have nine flat stages to show their skills.

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