Dates: Saturday, June 30th through Sunday, July 22nd Sites: Liege to Paris Champs-Elysees, France Annual: 99th Total Stages: 20 (1 prologue) Total Distance: 3,496.9 kilometers (2,172.9 miles) Television: NBC Sports Network 2011 Champion: Cadel Evans Runner-Up: Andy Schleck
These 20 stages, plus one prologue have the following profiles: * 9 flat stages * 5 high mountain stages with two summit finishes * 4 medium mountain stages with one summit finish * 2 individual time-trial stage * 2 rest days * 1 prologue
2012 Teams and Countries
AUSTRALIA Orica Greenedge (ORG)
BELGIUM Lotto-Belisol Team (OLO) Omega Pharma-Quick Step (QST)
DENMARK Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff (SBS)
ENGLAND Sky Procycling (SKY)
FRANCE AG2R - La Mondiale (ALM) Cofidis Le credit En Ligne (COF) FDJ-BigMat (FDJ) Saur-Sojasun (SAU) Team Europcar (EUC)
NETHERLANDS Rabobank Cycling Team (RAB) Team Argos-Shimano (ARG) Vacansoleil-DCM (DCM)
RUSSIA Katusha Team (KAT)
SPAIN Euskaltel - Euskadi (EUS) Movistar Team (MOV)
UNITED STATES BMC Racing Team (BMC) Garmin - Barracuda (GRM)
NOTES: There are 20 stages this year and one prologue, beginning on June 30th. The stages are 9 flat, five high mountain, with two summit finishes, four medium mountain stages with one summit finish, two individual time-trials and one prologue stage. Overall, the 99th Tour de France will cover 3,496.9 kilometers or 2,172.9 miles.
There are nine new stage towns: Abbeville, Annonay Davezieux, Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, La Planche des Belles Filles, Peyragudes, Porrentruy, Samatan, Tomblaine and Vise.
The Tour de France begins at Liege, a town of 192,000 people, including former women's tennis star Justine Henin.
The final stage will start in Rambouillet, 50 kilometers from Paris. Although a small town in stature with just 25,700 people, Rambouillet is known for King Louis XVI, where he built the Queen's Dairy in the Park for Marie-Antoinette.
The traditional loop on the Champs-Elysees is considered to be the most beautiful avenue in Paris and the most beautiful avenue in the world by Parisians. The name is French for "Elysian Fields", the place of the blessed in Greek mythology. This has been the final stage of the Tour de France since its inception in 1903.
Last season, Cadel Evans, who captured the yellow jersey during a brilliant individual time trial on the second-to-last day, cruised into Paris to complete an improbable ride to his first Tour de France triumph.
Evans, a two-time runner-up at the Tour, finished ahead of the Schleck brothers -- Andy and Frank. Britain's Mark Cavendish claimed his fifth stage win of that race, outsprinting Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen to the wire and finishing in a time of two hours, 27 minutes and two seconds. Cavendish notched his 20th career stage victory and captured the green jersey as the top sprinter in 2011.
Two-time winner Alberto Contador will miss the Tour de France, as he serves a doping suspension that runs until August. The suspension is the result of a long-running case that dates back to September 2010, when it was announced he tested positive for a banned substance at that year's Tour, which he later won over Andy Schleck. Because of the decision, the Spaniard was stripped of many victories, including the 2010 Tour title, which then was awarded to Schleck.