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Tour de France 2012: Race Begins Saturday With Open Field

With the 2012 Tour de France beginning on Saturday, the cycling world can turn its gears back towards the sport itself for the season's biggest race. While injuries and suspensions have weakened the field a bit, they have also opened up opportunities for a variety of contenders to potentially take the title.

Australian cyclist Cadel Evans looks to defend his title after winning for the first time in 2011, a victory that came after two previous second-place finishes. Many believe that his biggest challenger could be British rider Bradley Wiggins, who had numerous stage race victories earlier in the season.

The field won't include some key players, though, including former Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and 2011 runner-up Andy Schleck. Contador has been suspending for doping and Schleck is recovering from a pelvis injury.

The race starts on Saturday in Liege, Belgium, passing through Switzerland before ultimately being completed on July 22 on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, France.

SB Nation Denver is your source for 2012 Tour De France updates, and be sure to visitcycling blog Podium Cafe as well. You can also catch up on results and storylines from the 2012 Giro d'Italia here.