Chauvigny to Sarran forms the longest stage of this year’s Tour de France, clocking in at 218km and looking destined for the breakaway (or some late action from an elite group) to decide the outcome. A total of four categorised climbs feature during the day, the deceptively hard Côte de Saint-Martin-Terrasus featuring ramps just shy of 10% and will give any escapees a chance to test their rivals; while the Suc au May is a particularly intimidating prospect with inclines topping out between 11.8% – 13% before the summit.
Overall, the nature of Stage 12 is reminiscent of a one day classic, which means we are bound to see some familiar names in action. Plenty seeing this as an opportunity too hard for the sprinters and too easy for the general classification riders; certain to be an action packed affair no mater who features in the mix.
One of the most memorable Tour de France performances in recent years came from Marc Hirschi last week and there is every reason to expect him to be active again today. He suits the terrain well, is able to overcome the steepest sections and also has a kick to challenge most of his likely rivals in a reduced sprint. His progression through the ranks in recent years, and this debut Tour de France showing so far, suggest he could be destined to win this stage; he simply needs the luck to make the breakaway.
There is no doubt that today’s offering shall have caught the attention of Greg Van Avermaet, and for good reason too, as the mix of terrain, distance and finale look a good fit for the classics veteran. Since the rest day he has appeared strong, keeping himself out of trouble, likely eager to invest everything he has in contesting the honours on Stage 12.
Bora Hansgrohe are expected to be active here, potentially looking to getting Maximilian Schachmann into the key move, who will certainly fancy his chances on such a rolling course. Recent performances at Il Lombardia and Strade Bianche confirm he can challenge the very best over this distance and should be a contender late into the day.
As ever, the sense of Julian Alaphilippe performing well today are polarising, likely to be either missing out entirely or instead winning with relative ease. The Frenchman has great form on super steep inclines, making him a real threat on the decisive Suc au May, where a strong attack may secure him a procession like ride into Sarran. If he has recovered well, then this is close to a perfect opportunity, but there is plenty of doubt as to whether he in fact has.
Beyond those above, there is a cavalcade of potential names to look out for in the moves on Stage 12:
Valentin Madouas is bound to be tasked with representing FDJ now their GC dreams have vanished and suits the course well.
Omar Fraile would have been top of the pile for this stage a few seasons ago, but injury has diminished his form; still a danger.
Lennard Kämna has the potential to collect a win at this Tour de France and provides another great option for Bora today.
Thomas de Gendt rarely shies aways from having a go on stages of this nature.
Wout van Aert warrants a mention because he seems to now suit every type of race or stage imaginable.
1st Marc Hirschi 2nd Greg van Avermaet 3rd Maximilian Schachmann