When Saturday July 19
Category High mountains
Where are we?
It’s the second and last day in the Alps, and you’re not going to forget this stage in a hurry. Tough but stunning climbs and long, fast descents are the order of the day, with nowhere to hide.
What’s on the route?
Three major climbs mean this stage is not for the faint of heart, and those with little or no descending skills need not apply; the downhill sections could be as critical as the climbs.
It’s pretty much uphill all the way from the start until the top of the Col du Lautaret, 80km into the stage. There’s then a 30km descent down into Briançon, where the second climb of the day — the Col d’Izoard — begins. Another, steeper, 30km descent to the base of the final climb follows it, where the climbers are let loose for a third time — and to the victor, the spoils.
What might happen?
What won’t happen should perhaps be the question. The only certainty is that there’s going to be an almighty shake-up of the general classification after this stage, while it’s also highly likely that at least one of the main contenders for overall victory is going to fall foul of a crash or perhaps the dreaded jour sans if they don’t eat or drink enough on what’s going to be a long and difficult day.
There’s almost no down time for the whole 177km, as the road is either going up steeply or going down fast. The race could very easily be won, and even more easily lost, on a day like this. Everyone will have to be on their guard, which will make for a very nervous start line in Grenoble on July 19.
If you’re there
Try the gratin dauphinois. It’s what everyone eats here — creamy, potato-y loveliness.
This is the Tour de France of your childhood: sun-drenched Alpine climbs and descents aplenty.