The Tour de France 2020 is about to take the peloton on new ground on stage 17 – the Col de la Loze.
Making it’s Tour debut in this year’s race as the final climb of a 170km day, the Loze is going to be a huge test for not only the general classification climbers but the entire peloton.
At 21.5km-long with an average gradient of almost eight per cent, this final climb is among the toughest to be included in the 2020 edition.
But what do the Strava stats tell us about this brutal mountain finish?
The Col de la Loze averages a daunting 7.8 per cent across its monstrous length, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of the gradients.
Starting at 7.8 per cent, the first 8km of the climb holds at around around seven percent, before a very slight easing between the nine and 12km marks, with the gradients dropping to between four and six percent.
But things only get tough the closer the riders get to the line.
From kilometre 17 the road ramps up to a brutal 11 per cent, dropping only slightly to 9.5 per cent in the final 3km. It’s in those final three thousand metres of the stage that the peloton will hit the steepest parts of the climb – a 24 per cent ramp at kilometre 19 followed by an 18 per cent slope 1,500m from the finish.
The altitude is also likely to take a huge toll on the riders, as the stage finishes at 2,304 metres above sea level, the highest point of this year’s Tour.
So far in 2020 the peloton has only ridden up to 1,825m on stage four to Orcières-Merlette, making this a significant moment for the climbers – keep an eye on the South American riders born at these kinds of altitudes.
The Loze won’t be the only test riders face on stage 17 however, as first they must make it over the also-massive Col de la Madeleine.
Stretching to 17.1km with an average gradient of 8.4 per cent, this climb tops out at 2,000 metres and cause a major thinning of the pack before riders even hit the Loze.
The Madeleine starts 88.5km into the stage after a very flat opening half, and peaks 107.4km into the day.
It’s then a long 17km descent before the road turns upwards at the foot of the Loze, 147km into the stage.
While the Col de la Loze hasn’t featured in the Tour before, we can look to the 2019 season for some previous performances.
The col featured as a summit finish in stage eight of last year’s Tour de l’Avenir – the under-23 Tour de France – as riders started from the bottom and fired directly the top on the 23.1km-long stage.
That stage was won by Australia’s Alexander Evans, who now races for Circus-Wanty Gobert, with a time of 1-05-39.
Evans didn’t upload his data to Strava, but second place finisher on the stage Michel Ries did, who set a time of 1-05-51.
The Luxembourger completed the 21.5km-long Col de la Loze par Meribel Strava segment (slightly shorter than the Avenir stage) in 1-02-58 to take the KoM, with an average speed of 20.5km/h and an average power of 346w.
Slightly further down the leaderboard are some familiar names – Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) who completed the climb last June in 1-09-43, slightly faster than his compatriot Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic), who set a time of 1-10-10.
But as the Tour de France hits this climb for the first time, expect some even fasters times to be set on this huge challenge.