The Tour has a habit of kicking riders while they are down, and after the tumultuous events of yesterday’s peloton-shredding crash this is no exception, as the pack faces the first summit finish of this year’s race. Officially the stage is classified as ‘medium mountains’ but don’t let that fool you. After two Cat 3 climbs, the last climb brings the first Cat 1 ascent to La Planche des Belles Filles. 5.9km long with an average gradient of 8.5%, it features ramps of 13% early on and 14% just before the finish.
Climbers who can attack – especially those who have lost precious time in incidents – will attack to try to (re)gain precious time. Robert Gesink, Frank Schleck and any number of Euskaltel riders should be firing the starting gun today, while those who are carrying battle scars from yesterday’s various crashes will be shuddering at the prospect of being found out on the final climb. It’s our first real opportunity to see how well favourites Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins – and most likely challengers Vincenzo Nibali and Denis Menchov – are really going.
Even today’s intermediate sprint is uphill, gaining around 100 metres in the final 3km as the peloton hurtles towards the first third category climb, the Col de Grosse Pierre, which immediately follows it. Peter Sagan will be eyeing it as a perfect opportunity to extend his green jersey lead.
Cycling the Alps’ interactive videos of the route can be found here.
Link: Official website