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2012 Tour to Depart from Liege

The Tour de France returns to the Wallonian region of Belgium for the Grand Depart for the 2012 event, embarking from the iconic classics city Liege, according to reports at Sporza. This is a repeat of 2004, when the Tour left Liege and circled westward, across Belgium and the roads of Paris-Roubaix (in no serious way) en route to Brittany and eventually the Massif Central. The 2012 route could go in a number of directions, taking in neighboring countries like Luxembourg (hello Schleck family!) or Germany. Theoretically at least, 2012 is scheduled to run the Alps before the Pyrenees, so one can imagine a route that stays east of Paris for the first week or so. Check back in a year on that part. Meanwhile, Liege was graced by stage 2 of this year's Tour, a stage that was more or less ruined by a moto spill that coated a descent in oil and brought down the peloton. That stage finished in nearby Spa and paid tribute to the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic. Obviously the 2012 Tour won't start with a classics-style stage, but the next day or two could see the Tour take advantage of the Ardennes in a way that this year's event unfortunately did not. Either way, it's a lovely area and will give the Tour a chance to compete for attention with the Giro's 2012 opener in Washington DC (cough).