To love cycling, inevitably means to love geography and additionally, the different regions.
This will not please Mrs Boisseau, who encouraged the young pupil that I was to meticulously bury myself in all kinds of maps, but regular visits to cycling races have led me to discover geography differently.
The challenge of the mountains can be seen from a different perspective on the Tour De France. In this domain, the notion of intermediate mountainsmeaning secondary or insignificant ones- must be questioned. The adventures experienced by the peloton in the Massif Central, the Vosges or in the Jura, taught us a long time ago that impressive feats and panache may well be displayed before the riders reach the Alps or the Pyrenees.
The inspiration of this 99th edition, which will set off from the Province of Liège, has encouraged us to make intermediate mountains essential features of the route, since this is what we intended, allowing several regions to be (re) discovered. I cannot over advise the potential protagonists of the next Tour not to limit their reconnaissance trips to the high mountain stages, but on the contrary, to widen their field of study: the Monts du Boulonnais for example, La Planche des Belles Filles in Haute-Saône and the climbs in the Swiss Jura on the road to Porrentruy, will provide an ideal terrain for major offensives. As for the Col du Grand Colombier, in Ain, and the Mur de Péguère, in Ariège, which the riders will climb for the first time, their steep slopes will definitely make a deep impression on them. Of course, the race route will not overlook the Alps and the Pyrenees and the format of the stages of La Toussuire as well as of Peyragudes should encourage early attacks.
Cycling presents some subtleties which can also allow you to tackle arithmetic or challenge a short- sighted approach. So let us make a bet that the very significant increase in the number of time-trials will not ensure the impunity of the best riders. In any event, the climbers and « puncheurs » whose abilities are limited in this exercise know what is required of them: if they don’t attack, there will be no victories for them on the roads of the 2012 Tour. And what if it we were really doing them a favour?