Last week, I introduced you to our Tour de France roster. Today, our nine riders were introduced to the fans and press in Liège. It was a historical day for everyone involved. We are the first Australian team at the Tour de France.
We unveiled our new team kits and our newly painted bikes. Graham Watson captured it all, and the team presentation photos are now posted on our Facebook page. You can check them out here.
With the initial fanfare now behind us, I thought I might take some time to talk you through the 21 stages of the 2012 Tour de France. Other resources offer full-on previews. Below, I share brief blurbs as to what I make of the stage in regard to our team.
Prologue: Liège (ITT)
We hope to be competitive on the opening stage of the Tour de France. We lack a rider that could win or podium. Our goal is to put one or two riders in the top-twenty.
Stage 1: Liège – Seraing
With a couple options for stage one, we have studied this stage closely. The final suits a rider like Michael Albasini or Simon Gerrans.
Stage 2: Visé – Tournai
This is the first of the flat stages. It’s obviously a stage we have earmarked for Matt Goss.
Stage 3: Orchies – Boulogne-sur-Mer
A tricky, technical finale will make this flat stage an interesting one. I don’t expect the normal bunch sprinters to play a role in today’s finish.
Stage 4: Abbeville – Rouen
This will be a dangerous stage for certain. It’s on the coast, and winds can play a role in breaking apart the race. Without a focus on the overall, we won’t want to get caught out, but if we were to miss out, we wouldn’t be devastated.
Stage 5: Rouen – Saint-Quentin
Normally this will be a very fast stage. It’s likely the peloton will enjoy a tailwind to make the day pass more quickly. It’s another day for the sprinters, including the likes of Matt Goss.
Stage 6: Épernay – Metz
This is the last day for the sprinters for a little bit of time, so expect a bunch sprint before we head into the mountains. You know by now who we hope to support at the pointy end of this stage.
Stage 7: Tomblaine – La Planche des Belles Filles
Stage seven will be seen as the first real test for the overall contenders. As those guys mark each other, some of our riders – Pieter Weening, Michael Albasini and Simon Gerrans – will look for every opportunity to attack.
Stage 8: Belfort – Porrentruy
A short stage of the Tour but by no means an easy one. We recon’ed this stage after the Dauphiné. It’s a solid stage from start to finish.
Stage 9: Arc-et-Senans – Besançon (ITT)
Without any world class time trialists with us at the Tour, this will be a low pressure day for us. We get an extra day of rest before the rest.
Stage 10: Mâcon – Bellegarde-sur-Valserine
We head into the first part of the high mountains today, and I expect a breakaway. I wouldn’t necessarily expect our guys to factor into a move today, but you never know.
Stage 11: Albertville – La Toussuire – Les Sybelles
Another short but brutal stage and another big test for the GC riders. For the non-climbers in our ranks, survival is a very real objective.
Stage 12: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne – Annonay Davézieux
Today is a perfect day for an early breakaway. If the stage comes down to a sprint, the finish suits the likes of a sprinter like Goss.
Stage 13: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux – Le Cap d’Agde
Stage 13 is a toss-up between the sprinters and the opportunists. We have both on our team, so it makes it a good stage for us. It’s always windy in this part of France, and wind could be a determining factor as to how the stage plays out.
Stage 14: Limoux – Foix
Today marks our first day in the Pyrenees. It’s a solid stage that, on paper, looks promising for a breakaway.
Stage 15: Samatan – Pau
Another day in the Pyrenees, but a relatively flat stage. It could be another opportunity for a break or the last sprint for awhile.
Stage 16: Pau – Bagnères-de-Luchon
A brutal day in the Pyrenees fought out by the overall contenders. We’re back in survival mode for some of our riders.
Stage 17: Bagnères-de-Luchon – Peyragudes
A short stage in the Pyrenees with a very, very hard final. Today’s finish is a bit too difficult for our talents and strengths.
Stage 18: Blagnac – Brive-la-Gaillarde
Two days away from Paris, and we have a stage for the sprinters or the last chance for a breakaway to survive.
Stage 19: Bonneval – Chartres (ITT)
This stage will likely decide the Tour de France. I expect the overall to come down to the wire, and I think we may see a battle between Cadel Evans (BMC) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky) on the penultimate day of racing.
Stage 20: Rambouillet – Paris Champs-Élysées
The final stage is one of the most prestigious. It is undeniably a day for the sprinters. We want to finish on a high note with Matt Goss in Paris.
This Tour has something for everyone. I see many opportunities for us over the course of the next three weeks to seek stage glory. We have riders who can contend on nearly every stage. It’s going to be an exciting three weeks, and we’re ready to give it everything we’ve got.
Keep an eye out for daily Backstage Passes. Three weeks straight! Hope you don’t get sick of me before Paris.