When Saturday July 12
To Gerardmer La Mauselaine
Category Medium mountains
Where are we?
The Vosges are not really mountains but there is plenty for the riders to be wary of. The hills appear rolling because the dense woodland takes the edges off but the roads can be steep. The stage finishes in Gérardmer, which is known for the stunning lake on the outskirts of town.
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What’s on the route?
There’s a real sting in the tail, with two difficult climbs followed by a summit finish. These are the sort of climbs that will suit not just the mountain specialists but riders like Philippe Gilbert. The Col de la Croix des Moinats is a second-category climb that comes after 142 kilometres. It is 7.6 kilometres long with an average gradient of six per cent. The next climb, the Col de Grosse-Pierre, may only be three kilometres long but it has some very steep sections in the middle, with the gradient peaking at 16 per cent. But it is the final climb that may do the most damage — La Mauselaine is 1.8 kilometres long but steep all the way.
What might happen?
The overall contenders will be forced to race on this, the first of three tricky days in the Vosges. This is all part of Christian Prudhomme’s desire to tease the overall favourites into action on days other than those in the Alps and Pyrenees. These climbs offer rewards to those who are prepared to take risks.
If you’re there
Toast the stage winner with a glass of Kronenbourg, brewed in nearby Obernai using water from the Vosges.
The races heads into the Vosges, which are not as high or imposing as the Alps and Pyrenees but nevertheless offer challenging riding.