ITV4 and British Eurosport will have comprehensive coverage of the 99th edition of the greatest cycle race on the planet - the Tour de France.
Some of the world’s best riders will contest the sport’s most prestigious event over the course of three intense weeks of racing, with Australia’s Cadel Evans returning to defend the yellow jersey that he claimed for the first time in his career 12 months ago.
From the prologue in Liege on June 30 to the final stage between Rambouillet and the Champs-Elysees in Paris three weeks later, ITV4 and British Eurosport will have all the action from this unique sporting institution.
The battle for the coveted yellow jersey promises to be the closest for many years, with this year’s route including two long time-trials and only three summit finishes, meaning that the winner will have to be an even more complete rider than in previous years.
This edition will see for the first time Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish ride together in a Grand Tour for Team Sky, and both go into the event with high hopes.
Wiggins enters the Tour as a strong favourite for the yellow jersey after claiming victories in the Paris-Nice and Criterium du Dauphine, while the ‘Manx Missile’ Cavendish will look to defend the green points jersey he claimed in historic fashion last year.
Cavendish is likely to have most joy in the first week of the Tour, with five flat stages in the first seven stages of racing, while Wiggins will have to wait until the second week to really show his worth as an overall contender, when the medium and higher mountains come to the fore.
With both Brits entering the race as firm favourites to win their respective jerseys, they will also have the added pressure of the London Olympics, which begins just a few days after the conclusion of the Tour.
Given the prestige of the race, it can be expected to see all other professional teams take their place in the peloton, boasting the strongest of line-ups.
After finishing runner-up on two occasions, Australian rider Cadel Evans finally became his country’s first winner of cycling’s most prestigious race last year with a supreme display, and he will be highly fancied to succeed once again.
Frank Schleck is poised to assume leadership of the RadioShack-Nissan Trek team, with brother Andy, the 2010 champion, absent through injury, and will have to make his gains in the mountains due to inferior time-trialling ability.
A notable absentee from this year’s race is two-time winner Alberto Contador, who was stripped of his 2010 Tour title and banned from cycling after being found guilty of doping.
The 99th edition of the race will start in Liege, Belgium and will cover a total distance of 3,479km over the course of three weeks.
This includes nine flat stages, four medium mountain stages, five high mountain stages 2 of which have summit finishes, as well as the standard two days of time trials.
Over the course of the race, riders will have to tackle 25 category two, category one or highest category mountain passes.
Here is SOTB’s guide to the 2012 Tour de France on ITV and Eurosport:
ITV4 will provide extensive free-to-air coverage of the 2012 Tour de France.
Gary Imlach returns to anchor all of ITV4′s output throughout the three-week event, with expert analysis from former Tour de France sprinter Chris Boardman.
Commentary comes from the popular duo of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, while reports and interviews on each stage will be provided by Ned Boulting and Matt Rendall.
ITV4 will have at least two and a half hours of live coverage for every day of this year’s race, and there will be extended live coverage of five stages, featuring up to five hours of live action.
For fans who are unable to watch the live action, ITV4′s regular nightly highlights programme at 7pm will provide a comprehensive round up of each day’s action.
ITV4′s live coverage will be streamed online via ITV’s Tour de France website (itv.com/tourdefrance).
The website also includes news updates, reports, interviews, video highlights, stage guides and rider profiles.
All of ITV4′s coverage of the Tour will be screened in high-definition on ITV4 HD.
UPDATE: With Bradley Wiggins on the verge of securing his first Tour de France win, ITV have confirmed that they will screen the final two stages live on ITV1 and ITV1 HD.
British Eurosport will have more hours of live coverage of the 2012 Tour de France than any other broadcaster.
Live coverage starts with the official presentation ceremony from in Liege on June 28.
The Tour begins two days later, and the pan-European broadcaster will have at least four hours of live coverage from each stage throughout the race, all of which will be screened in stunning high-definition on Eurosport HD.
Top sports presenter James Richardson returns to host British Eurosport’s daily live studio-based coverage.
He will be joined by a selection of expert pundits, including former Great Britain road cyclist Rob Hayles, former Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt, John Herety (Rapha Condor-Sharp team manager) and Dan Lloyd (Team IG-Sigma Sport), all of them offering their analysis of the day’s racing.
For at least four stages, the studio team will be based at the east London cycling bar/café Look Mum No Hands.
In the commentary box, Eurosport’s lead cycling commentator David Harmon is once again joined by multiple Tour de France green jersey winner Sean Kelly.
Eurosport’s coverage will also provide up to the minute reports and interviews by the on-site film teams before and after each stage.
Viewers can catch up on any action missed via British Eurosport’s daily evening highlights programme.
All live race coverage can also be viewed online and on mobile via Eurosport Player.
Watch video routes of each stage via ITV.com – CLICK HEREThursday 28th June Official Presentation LIVE – 5.30pm-6.15pm – British Eurosport 2 6.15pm-7pm – British Eurosport Saturday 30th June Prologue – Liege > Liege (6.1km) LIVE – 2pm-5pm – ITV4 | 1.15pm-5pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 10.30pm-11.30pm – British Eurosport Sunday 1st July Stage 1 – Liege > Seraing (198km) LIVE – 2pm-4.30pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 7.30pm-8.30pm – British Eurosport Monday 2nd July Stage 2 – Vise > Tournai (207km) LIVE – 2pm-4.30pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-5.15pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 7pm-8pm – British Eurosport Tuesday 3rd July Stage 3 – Orchies > Boulogne-sur-Mer (197km) LIVE – 2pm-4.30pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-4.45pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 9.45pm-11.15pm – British Eurosport Wednesday 4th July Stage 4 – Abbeville > Rouen (214km) LIVE – 2pm-5pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-5.15pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 9.45pm-11.15pm – British Eurosport Thursday 5th July Stage 5 – Rouen > Saint Quentin (197km) LIVE – 2pm-4.30pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-5pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 7pm-8pm – British Eurosport Friday 6th July Stage 6 – Epernay > Metz (210km) LIVE – 2pm-4.30pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-5pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 7pm-8pm – British Eurosport Saturday 7th July Stage 7 – Tomblaine > La Planche des Belles Filles (199km) LIVE – 2pm-4.30pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-5pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 7pm-8.30pm – British Eurosport Sunday 8th July Stage 8 – Belfort > Porrentruy (154km) LIVE – 12pm-4.30pm – ITV4 | 11.30am-5pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 7pm-8.30pm – British Eurosport Monday 9th July Stage 9 – Arc-et-Senans > Besancon (41.5km) – Individual Time-Trial LIVE – 2pm-5pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-5.15pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 7pm-8pm – British Eurosport 2 Tuesday 10th July REST DAY Week 1 Review – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 Wednesday 11th July Stage 10 – Macon > Bellegarde-sur-Valserine (194km) LIVE – 2pm-4.30pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-4.45pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm - ITV4 | 9pm-10.30pm – British Eurosport 2 Thursday 12th July Stage 11 – Albertville > La Toussuire-les Sybelles (140km) LIVE – 12pm-5pm – ITV4 | 12pm-5pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 8pm-9.30pm – British Eurosport 2 Friday 13th July Stage 12 – Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne > Annoonay (220km) LIVE – 12pm-4pm – ITV4 | 9.30am-4.30pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 Saturday 14th July Stage 13 – Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux > Le Cap d’Agde (215km) LIVE – 2pm-4.30pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-4.45pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 10.45pm-11.45pm – British Eurosport Sunday 15th July Stage 14 – Limoux > Foix (192km) LIVE – 2pm-4.30pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-4.45pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 9.30pm-11pm – British Eurosport Monday 16th July Stage 15 – Samatan > Pau (160km) LIVE – 2pm-5pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-5pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 8.30pm-9.30pm – British Eurosport 2 Tuesday 17th July REST DAY Week 2 Review – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 Wednesday 18th July Stage 16 – Pau > Bagneres-de-Luchon (197km) LIVE – 12pm-4.30pm – ITV4 | 9.30pm-5.15pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 11.30pm-12.30am – British Eurosport Thursday 19th July Stage 17 – Bagneres-de-Luchon > Peyragudes (144km) LIVE – 12pm-4.30pm – ITV4 | 11.15am-5.15pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 11.30pm-12.30am – British Eurosport Friday 20th July Stage 18 – Blagnac > Brive-la-Gaillarde (215km) LIVE – 1pm-4pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-4.15pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | 9pm-10pm – British Eurosport Saturday 21st July Stage 19 – Bonneval > Chartres (53.5km) - Individual Time-Trial LIVE – 2pm-5pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-5pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | TBC – British Eurosport Sunday 22nd July Stage 20 – Rambouillet > Paris Champs-Elysees (130km) LIVE – 2pm-5pm – ITV4 | 12.30pm-5pm – British Eurosport Highlights – 7pm-8pm – ITV4 | TBC – British Eurosport . .