Tour de France 2012 stage 1 preview

Made to measure for Gilbert

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Highest point: 606m

Category: rolling

This rolling stage touches on the Ardennes but is nothing like as tough as the Liège-Bastogne-Liège one-day classic run through the same terrain. The sprinters should be able to stick in the peloton all day but many of them are likely to struggle to remain in contention on the long and fairly steep drag up to the finish. Rising for more than 2km at an average of 5 per cent, it is sure to suit the race’s puncheurs. Chief among them, of course, is Philippe Gilbert, for whom winning here on home ground and taking the yellow jersey would make his year. Gilbert is sure to have an eye on Liquigas powerhouse Peter Sagan.

Sean Yates: "It’s lumpy and in Belgium and Tom Boonen is the man there. Omega-Quick-Step could be in yellow with Tony Martin after the prologue and will want to protect that and bring it to a sprint. That would play into our hands for Cav."

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Video: Tour de France 2012 stage 1 preview by Chris Boardman

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