Stage eight: Belfort-Porrentruy

For the second day, we’re in the middle mountains of the Jura. About 70 kilometres in, the race crosses the Franco-Swiss border and finishes in the Swiss town of Porrentruy. We’ve apologised in advance to our wallets on Switzerland’s behalf.

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According to our satnav, Porrentruy is just over 40 kilometres away from Belfort, along the draggy N1019 road. So how come, the riders may wonder, this stage manages to fit in 157 kilometres, and seven categorised climbs?

This is a brutal stage. There’s only one first category climb, but the profile of this stage looks like our heart rate chart when we eat some of the local cheese.

And the best thing of all is that the second climb is called the Côte de la Passage de la Douleur. Translation: the hill of the way of pain. The climbs increase in intensity from this third category hill, to four second-category ascents, to the very steep first-category Col de la Croix. There is a descent to the finish, but really, the riders deserve it after what they will have been through.

The potential for damage here is huge. While the summit finish on stage seven might look like a more significant obstacle, this is one of the hardest stages of the entire Tour, and bad luck, bad form or bad tactics will be disastrous. None of the climbs are significantly big, but it’s the repetition which will grind the riders down. The question is, who has the initiative and brains to do something with this stage?

Switzerland has some of the most outrageously beautiful landscapes in the world.

Organ-abusing tartiflette, a boiling blend of potatoes, cheese, bacon and onions. Sorry body.

It’s relentless climbing all day long. It would be easier to focus on the worst bit, which will be the neutralised zone


– The Tour visits Porrentruy for the first time.
– This is the 20th time the Tour has visited Switzerland, which makes it the race’s second most visited country outside France, after Belgium.
– On paper, this is actually the hardest stage of the entire Tour. Ranking climbs by giving HC climbs five points, first-cat climbs four points, second-cat climbs three points, third-cat climbs two points and fourth-cat climbs one point, this stage scores 19 points. That’s ahead of stage 16 and 17 with 18 points, and stage 11 with 17 points.
– On the same scale, last year’s stage to Plateau de Beille scored the most, with 21.
– Of eight second-category climbs in the 2012 Tour, this stage has half of the entire total.
– There are seven categorised climbs today, the most of any stage. There are six on stage three and five on stages one and 17.
– The Col de la Croix is the steepest climb of the whole Tour, at 9.2 per cent. The Col de Menté in the Pyrenees is 9.1 per cent, and the Col du Granier in the Alps at 8.6 per cent. The other climbs above seven per cent: the Mur de Perguère (7.9%), Port de Balès (7.7%), Tourmalet (7.4%), Aubisque (7.1%), Grand Cucheron (7.1%) and Lers (7%).

Côte de Maison Rouge
Category 2
Start St Hippolyte
Length 7.9km
Height 784m
Altitude gain 395m
Average gradient 5%

Côte de Saignelégier
Category 2
Start Goumois
Length 7.8km
Height 979m
Altitude gain 475m
Average gradient 6.1%

Côte de Saulcy
Category 2
Start Glovelier
Length 4.6km
Height 928m
Altitude gain 395m
Average gradient 8.6%

Côte de la Caquerelle
Category 2
Start Boécourt
Length 4.3km
Height 834m
Altitude gain 326
Average gradient 7.6%

Col de la Croix
Category 1
Start Ste Ursanne
Length 3.7km
Height 789m
Altitude gain 340m
Average gradient 9.2

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Maps courtesy of Amaury Sports Organisation