2012 Tour de France preview

Cavendish (in green) on the 2011 Tour de France final podium

Cavendish (in green) on the 2011 Tour de France final podium (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The 2012 Tour de France is set to get underway in Liège on June 30 with a prologue and then two stages in Belgium before the race crosses into French territory for the remainder of the race.

The route favors the time trialists over the pure climbers this year, with more than 100km of racing against the clock on tap. This puts Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins and defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) at the top of the favorites' list, but there are still a few opportunities for the featherweights to put in a challenge.

Cyclingnews' top five overall contenders

A new climb to La Planche des Belles Filles provides the first significant mountain finish on stage 7, the 11th stage to La Toussuire will provide a chance for redemption for the likes of Fränk Schleck after the race's first long time trial, while stage 17 to Peyragudes is the final chance for the climbers to pad any advantage before the 53.5km final time trial to Chartres.

The battle for the green jersey will be waged in between, with last year's winner Mark Cavendish (Sky) already admitting his ambitions for another title will play second fiddle to Wiggins's pursuit of the overall.

Cyclingnews' top five contenders for the green jersey

Other races within the race will be for the young riders, who will battle for the honour of wearing the white jersey, and for the climbers who will be on the attack in search of the polka dot jersey of the mountains classification.

Cyclingnews' top five best young riders

Cyclingnews will bring you all the best coverage of the 2012 Tour de France, from videos to photos, live coverage, race reports and news.

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