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Tour de France 2021: Stage 12 preview

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Tour de France 2021 stage 12 profile map

(Image credit: ASO)
Image 2 of 2

Tour de France 2021 stage 12 profile map

(Image credit: ASO)

Stage 12: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - Nîmes

Date: July 8, 2021 

Distance: 159.4km

Stage timing: 13:30 - 17:12 CEDT

Stage type: Flat

Stage 12 preview video

This is the second of the troika of comparatively easy days that could become anything but simple if the wind starts to blow. It starts by crossing the Rhône valley, where the riders will get a first idea of the weather conditions. The route then runs parallel to the river for a few kilometres to reach Saint-Just d’Ardèche, turning west here to begin the Tour’s first-ever ascent of the lower section of the spectacular Ardèche gorge.

Very soon, the riders will find themselves on a road that twists and turns ceaselessly, rising all the time but never fiercely. At Vallon Pont d’Arc, which derives its name from the beautiful rock arch that bridges the Ardèche, the route turns to the south, entering the department of Gard, where the roads are more open and the wind has a tendency to gust ferociously. To begin with, it should favour the riders, easing them along, urging them on towards the third-category Côte du Belvédère de Tharaux, the only classified climb of the day.

Once over this pass, the route remains relatively high and is often exposed. If it is windy, it will be interesting to see the battle position in the bunch just beyond Lussan, where the course switches sharply to the west for 15km or so, with the result that the wind should be blowing across the road from the right. After running south for a few kilometres, the riders will turn to the east, with the wind now likely to be coming from the left-hand side until the intermediate sprint at the exquisite town of Uzès. 

The final 27km follow a southerly course into the Roman city of Nîmes, where a bunch sprint is likely. The question is, how big will the peloton be that contests it?

Matt White's view

This valley always has wind, it just depends on which direction it is blowing and how strong it is. It is a day that people have to be attentive. But it’s a good day for the break and depending on the size of the break and the strength of the wind whether it stays to the line.

As far as the GC favourites are concerned, it will be a day where those teams will have to be very, very attentive.

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).

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