There may still be 99 days to go until the start of the 2012 edition of the Tour de France in Liege on 30 June, but excitement is already building ahead of the Grand Depart of the 100th edition of the race in Corsica 12 months later, the first time the island will have hosted the race. Recently, organisers ASO have followed up a video released in December showcasing the island's links with cycling with one celebrating the sport's heritage in Nice, the city on the mainland where the 2013 Tour de France will resume following its visit to Corsica.
The videos may have been around for a while, but with the 2012 season now in full swing and today's sunshine and warm temperatures making us look forward to summer, we're not going to make any excuses for showing them - and it is Friday, after all.
It won't be until this autumn that we know the final route of next year's race, but what we do officially know already is that the first three stages will be held on Corsica, opening on Saturday 29 June with a sprinter-friendly 200km run from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia, which may give Team Sky’s Mark Cavendish an opportunity to get into the one Grand Tour leader’s jersey that has so far eluded him – the maillot jaune.
That is followed by a 155km stage across some tough climbs in the centre of the island from Bastia to the capital Ajaccio, then what promises to be a spectacular 145km run up Corsica’s scenic west coast to Calvi.
After its visit to Corsica, the last part of Metropolitan France that the Tour has never visited, cycling’s biggest race heads back to the mainland for a team time trial in Nice, site of then world champion Bernard Hinault’s prologue win in 1981. He would go on to win the race that year.
Stage 5 will start a little further west on the Cote d’Azur at Cagnes-sur-Mer, although there’s no news as yet of where it heads after that; Thomas Vergouwen, owner of the Velowire website, who has proved himself time and again to be the most accurate at predicting the route of the race ahead of the official announcement, believes that the destination of that stage could be Gap, with the race then heading into the Alps.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.