Stage 19: Bourg-d’Oisans to Le Grand-Bornand, 204.5km, high mountains
It’s a long day in the mountains for the peloton, with five climbs that start right from the off. The first part of the stage has two monster hors catégorie climbs, the second half has three tricky climbs before a short descent into Le Grand Bornand. This might not be a summit finish but be under no illusions – this stage will blow the peloton apart.
Bang! Right from the gun the boys encounter the Col du Glandon, a 21.6km HC climb at an average of 5.1%, which doesn’t sound like much but that’s only an average. Along the way, there are much steeper sections – it’s unrelenting and very testing (at one point, they’re off on a side road), compounded by the fact that the legs have already been through yesterday’s Alpe d’Huez stage. Almost immediately after the descent, they have to climb the HC Col de la Madeleine – 19.2km at 7.9%. This takes them up to 2,000m and the hairpins both on the way up and on the way down will test the spirit of many riders. Let’s hope they don’t dwell too much on the fact that, once they get over Madeleine, they still have 120km to go. Gulp.
Their next challenge is the cat 2 Col de Tamie, followed almost immediately by the tough Cat 1 col de l’Epine, which leads almost immediately to the cat 1 Col de la Croix Fry. Whoever gets over the Croix Fry first gets the luxury of a fast, technical descent to the finish in Le Grand-Bornand. The organisers have done a diabolical job of stringing challenging climbs together to make the stage much more than the sum of its parts. If the GC boys get the faintest whiff of weakness from one of their number, there will be attack after attack after attack. It could be glorious!
They won’t have it all their own way, though. There will almost certainly be a sizeable breakaway of strong, stage-hunting climbers to chase. Cadel Evans has taken things noticeably easy over the last two days – could he be eyeing a place in the breakaway, following in teammate Tejay van Garderen’s footsteps yesterday?
Bit of trivia: This is the fourth time Le Grand-Bornand has hosted the finish of a Tour stage.
Link: Official website
Header image: Bourg-d’Oisans