We really enjoyed the Giro d'Italia video previews of key stages put together by IG Markets Cycling, so it's great news that they are doing them again for the Tour. First up, Team IG-Sigma Sport's Daniel Lloyd undertake a recce of tomorrow's stage, the first climbing stage of this year's Tour.
Stage 7 is one of the most eagerly awaited of this year's race, featuring one of just three summit finishes in the 2012 parcours, with maillot jaune Fabian Cancellara saying yesterday that he had no hope of holding onto the overall lead on what he dubbed the 'Planche of the sore legs.' That's something Dan Lloyd agrees with, and he suggests a couple of likely scenarios for how the stage might develop and who will end the day in yellow.
The stage will provide a testing end to a first week of the race that has perhaps been tougher than expected, including a brutal Stage 3 on Tuesday into Boulogne-sur-Mer. The huge crash on today's stage from Épernay to Metz in which a number of GC contenders thought likley to attack on today's stage has also added to the air on uncertainty. What can be sais is that Saturday's stage is likely to be the first time in this year's Tour in which the GC contenders join battle in earnest.
Never before included in the Tour, the 6km ascent to the finish has an average gradient of 8.5 per cent, and officially hits 13 per cent in places - although as Lloyd points out in the video, his computer recorded a 22 per cent stretch just before the climb levels out towards the end. It should be gripping stuff.
Geraint Thomas says: After the crash on Stage 6, pure climbers like Frank Schleck and Robert Gesink will have to try and get time back on Brad and Cadel on a day like today. Nibali missed the crash, but could also look to get some time, thehy;ve got to make the most of it, haven’t they? There’s just a couple of smaller climbs before that, so it’s all down to the last one. Somebody’s got to take it on, and I’d go for a proper climber today, though maybe not one of the main GC guys, perhaps Rui Costa, he’s in good shape.
To find out more abut this year's race check out our full 2012 Tour de France Preview featuring stage by stage analysis and tips from Team Sky's Geraint Thomas
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.