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VIDEO: Tour de France stage 12 preview

(Video) After Wednesday's race against the clock the Tour de France riders will be back racing against each other on Thursday when the relatively flat stage 12 is expected to see the specialist sprinters battle for the podium. Watch an expert video analysis of the stage.

VIDEO: Tour de France stage 12 preview
Photo: www.letour.fr

*CLICK HERE for the result and report from Thursday's stage 12

Stage 12 of the Tour de France on Thursday sees the peloton take a 218km course from Fougères to the town of Tours through Loire Valley country.

With the route relatively flat however, the winner is likely to be decided in the last 200 metres with sprinters expected to battle it out for top spot.

So far, Germany's Marcel Kittel holds the bragging rights after a second win of the 100th edition, the only sprinter to do so, on Tuesday that was marked by his Argos teammate Tom Veelers falling victim to sprint rival Mark Cavendish.

Omega-Pharma's Cavendish barged into the Dutchman on his way to the finish line and was lucky to escape punishment from race officials.

That incident, and the fact Cavendish was victim to an angry fan who threw urine at him during Wednesday's time trial, makes stage 12 one not to be missed for fans of hectic bunch or group finishes.

Starting in the Breton town of Fougeres for the first time, the Tour peloton will roll over slightly undulating terrain at the start before heading towards a virtually pancake-flat finish in Tours, which has hosted several sprint finishes in the race.

With a number of riders and teams, including the hosts, still looking for their first stage win a breakaway is likely to form early and be allowed to build a comfortable lead on the main bunch.

However the sprinters and their teams are unlikely to give them too much freedom before collaborating in the chase in a bid to reel them in before the finale.

Cavendish, who had won 23 stages on the race before this edition, has won one only so far and will be looking to make amends, especially after finishing third as the crash drama unfolded in Saint Malo on Tuesday.

Watch this expert video preview of today's stage, by Global Cycling Network

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French football clubs in strike threat over 75% tax

France’s top football clubs are threatening to go on strike in protest at the government’s plans to impose a 75 percent tax on them. Ligue 1 and 2 clubs are considering refusing to play fixtures scheduled for the weekend of October 26/27th, it emerged this week.

French football clubs in strike threat over 75% tax
What happens next? PSG's galacticos Zlatan Ibrahimovic (L), Edison Cavani (C) and captain Thiago Silva (R). Will a strike by French clubs overturn a 75-percent tax on salaries? Photo: JS Evrard

The biggest football clubs in France are far from happy with the prospect of having to pay a 75-percent tax on the salaries of their millionaire players, it would seem.

The UCPF (Union of Professional Football Clubs), comprising France’s top two divisions, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, this week threatened to go on strike against the ‘super-tax.’

The union’s executive committee agreed unanimously on Tuesday to protest in some way against the tax rate, which is set to be in force for 2014 and 2015, and therefore applied to earnings for 2013 and 2014.

“Everything is possible, tensions are very high,” Bernard Caïazzo, president of St. Etienne football club told Le Journal Du Dimanche (JDD).

Strike action could even take place as quickly as next weekend, according to sources cited by JDD. A proposal for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs to boycott fixtures over the weekend of October 26th gained significant support at Tuesday’s meeting.

The UCPF is set to meet on Thursday October 24th to finalize what form their protest will take, with France’s National Assembly scheduled to debate the new tax, beginning next week.

France’s sports minister Velerie Fourneyron confirmed in September that the country’s football clubs will not be exempt from the new 75 percent super tax.

The tax, one of President François Hollande’s flagship election proposals, is included in the government’s 2014 budget, but has not yet been approved by parliament.

Under the proposal, companies will be liable to pay the 75 tax rate for the portion of employees' salaries above €1 million annually.

And despite warnings from France’s football chiefs that the French top flight would be ruined if clubs had to pay the tax, Fourneyron insisted there will be no exceptions to the rule.

“There are no special measures. Football will be affected by the tax on high incomes,” the minister told Le Figaro at the time.

“Why should clubs be exempt from this tax?” she added.

SEE ALSO: France tops European league of millionaires

According to a study cited by Le Parisien on Thursday, French Ligue 1 clubs would be forced to shell out a combined total of €44 million under the 75-percent tax rule, on the million-euro salaries of 115 players and eight managers.

The level of contributions vary widely between clubs, with minnows Ajaccio and Guingamp, who have just one €1-million employee each paying €50,000, to champions Paris Saint-Germain, whose payroll includes 21 millionaires, including manager Laurent Blanc.

Under the planned tax scheme, PSG alone would pay a whopping €20 million extra in taxes.

Sports minister Fourneyron, however, did offer French clubs some comfort when confirming they would be liable to the 75-percent rate, announcing a cap on the tax.

The revenue from tax will be capped at 5 percent of turnover of clubs in order to reflect “the fragile economic model of football clubs”, she said at the time.

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