The 2012 Tour de France route is producing a ‘boring’ race this year, according to RadioShack-Nissan’s Fränk Schleck. He has been in the top five three times, third last year, but this year he is suffering. It is partly due to crashes and partly due to the parcours.

“It’s a strange tour, not one like we used to see from the other years,” he told Cycling Weekly. “Like we knew ahead of the race, I believe it’s one for time trialists.”

Schleck stepped on the final podium of last year’s Tour with his brother Andy behind winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing). The duo tried to shake Evans in the Alps to gain time ahead of the final time trial. They succeeded. Andy carried the yellow jersey for one day and into the last time trial in Grenoble, where Evans turned the tables and won the race overall.

Andy had to miss the Tour this year due to a small hip fracture. Fränk is in France, though, and dealing with an unfavourable parcours.

Last year, the race featured 65.5 kilometres of time trials. This year, there are 101.4 kilometres. The Tour organiser planned it this way to bring out attacks on several of the smaller climbs and the stages through the high-mountains.

“I think that was the idea behind it. Sometimes you have a good profile for you, sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes if it’s bad for you, it’s good for someone else. It always equals out,” Fränk said. “This year it’s bad for me. I can live with that.”

Schleck rode with race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky) for part of the climb to La Toussuire, but he is not threatening for the overall win this year. He is tired from his early season racing schedule and lost time, two minutes to a crash and 4-32 in the Besançon time trial.

He sits 12th overall at 9-45 minutes back from Wiggins.

“Sometimes it’s good for you, sometimes it’s bad for someone else. I’m not complaining,” Schleck said.

“Guys like me, [Vincenzo] Nibali and Andy, if he was here, we’d have to attack early into the race, but then you have team Sky who just have to control from behind. I think the idea [of the course design] was good, to make the race even more aggressive. It’s great how they did it and a great idea, but I think they are just going to have a boring Tour.”

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Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list

Tour 2012: Who will win?

Tour de France 2012 provisional start list

Tour de France 2012 team list

Tour de France 2012: Stage reports

Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage

Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last

Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back

Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour

Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT

Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks

Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage

Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage

Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades

Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes

Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne

Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory

Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt

Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second

Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs

Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles

Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour’s time trials

CW’s Tour de France podcasts

Blog: Tour presentation – chasing dreams and autographs

Comment: Cavendish the climber

Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries

Stage 13 by Graham Watson

Stage 12 by Graham Watson

Stage 11 by Graham Watson

Stage 10 by Graham Watson

Stage nine by Graham Watson

Stage eight by Graham Watson

Stage seven by Graham Watson

Stage six by Graham Watson

Stage five by Graham Watson

Stage four by Graham Watson

Stage three by Graham Watson

Stage two by Andy Jones

Stage two by Graham Watson

Stage one by Graham Watson

Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones

Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler

Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson

Tour de France 2012: Team presentation

Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce

Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage

Stage 10 live coverage

Stage nine live coverage

Stage six live coverage

Stage five live coverage

Stage four live coverage

Stage three live coverage

Cycling Weekly’s live text coverage schedule

Tour de France 2012: TV schedule
ITV4 live schedule
British Eurosport live schedule

Tour de France 2012: Related links

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish

Brief history of the Tour de France

Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever