It’s another short stage and by now we know what that means. It’s going to hurt like hell. The stage kicks off with the Cat 1 Col de Mente 9.3km at an eye-watering a 9.1% average gradient – then it settles down a bit with the riders going over the Col des Ares (Cat 2) and Cote de Burs (Cat 3) before they take on the 12km ascent of the hors catégorie Port de Bales. The final 30km of the stage are up and down, with a climb of the Col de Peyresourde (for the second consecutive day), before continuing on to the summit finish atop Peyragudes.
With the list of serious challengers to a Sky one-two in Paris now reduced to Vincenzo Nibali and, er, Vincenzo Nibali, it’s just about the last chance saloon for anyone looking to move up the GC ahead of Saturday’s monster time trial. Perhaps we will see something from Nicolas Roche? The AG2R team leader is a tantalising four seconds outside the top ten.
The most interesting moves of the day are likely to come from those hoping to steal the polka dot jersey from the shoulders of Thomas Voeckler. With 62 points up for grabs and many of yesterday’s breakaway men likely to pay for their exertions, the competition is by no means over – although, with just seven further points available after today, it may well be by the time an exhausted peloton reaches Peyragudes.
Cycling the Alps’ interactive videos of the route can be found here.
Link: Official website