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July 12 update: Stage 12 will exit the Alps via two cat 1 climbs as we head west from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay for the longest stage of this year's Tour at 226 km. Annonay is often featured in the Criterium du Dauphine but this is the first time it will be featured in the Tour de France. Actually, to be precise, the finish is in Davezieux just northeast of Annonay and both towns are considered joint hosts for this stage.
A break should gain significant advantage in the mountainous first half of the stage before we settle into a long, rolling/lumpy ride to the finish where two hills near the finish could whittle the break down before the flat final km.
This finish is well suited for Peter Sagan, but he isn't likely to make it over the first two cat 1 climbs if he's part of the break and if he's not part of the break will Liquigas-Cannondale chase it down? They'll need help from other teams like Orica-GreenEdge (for Matt Goss), but the peloton will be tired after two mountain stages so it's quite likely another break will succeed. Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) missed out on a stage win on Wednesday's Stage 10 as part of the break, but he'll have another chance on this day and the finish is better suited to him. This stage also suits Sylvain Chavanel, who will be looking to make it three wins in a row by a Frenchman. Note: the entire stage will be broadcast live. — Steve