When Monday July 20
Category Medium mountains
Impact on overall: 2/5
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Where are we?
There’ll be some tired, tired riders rolling out of Bourg-de-Péage this morning. And, to make matters worse, we’re heading south-east, destination: the Alps. And to make matters even worse, it’s 201km — the second-longest stage of the race.
This is beginning of the end, with the next four stages remaining exclusively in the mountains before, finally, a transfer to Paris for the final stage. Thank goodness, then, for tomorrow’s rest day which sees the Tour circus stay in Gap.
What’s on the route?
It’s a steady, uphill climb for much of the day as the Alpine foothills give way to the Alps proper. The Col de Cabre comes first followed by the Col de Manse, from where the race screams downhill, via the Côte de La Rochette, where Spain’s Joseba Beloki crashed out in 2003 (see ‘In depth’, above), for a final dash for the line in Gap.
This is another stage that screams ‘breakaway’, although any overall contenders who are still further off the pace than they’d like to be at this point could try to spring a surprise before we reach the biggest Alpine climbs.
The long descent down into Gap could — as it has in the past — act as a springboard — or rather the pointy-end of a high-diving board — for someone to try to steal a march, so the big names will have to have their wits about them and stay at the head of proceedings in the final 40km or so. Mind the Gap.