When Friday July 18
Category High mountains
Where are we?
We’ve been agonisingly close for days — the riders hoping this day would never come, and the fans and media looking forward to it: we’re in the Alps for the race’s first mountain stage.
What’s on the route?
The third-category Col de la Croix de Montvieux just 20km into the stage is but an amuse-bouche, but should tickle the taste buds of those in the peloton who have a penchant for climbing.
Next on the menu comes the first-category Col de Palaquit, 45km from the finish, which includes sections with gradients up to 12 per cent, while the main course is served at the end of the stage — a summit finish at the ski station of Chamrousse.
What might happen?
Expect a quiet start to the day for the main contenders, but for a breakaway of less dangerous riders to form early on. The big names will start stretching their legs on the Col de Palaquit, and then you can expect fireworks on the climb up to Chamrousse in the final 20km.
Up front, any remnants of a breakaway will be happy to take picnicking French families’ polite applause — or drunken Dutch fans’ ‘welcome’ of airborne beer — but will have to ready themselves to be swallowed up in the closing kilometres by the Tour favourites.
If you’re there
No time for tourism; set yourself up for a great day at the roadside on the Chamrousse climb.
We’re piling headlong into the Alps from Saint Etienne.