Analysis by Jean-François Pescheux, Tour competition director: “Things are getting tougher now. This stage across the Morvan region has an interesting profile. There are no fewer than eight climbs, although the toughest is no more than a second-category hill, and that’s the Haut Folin. The fact that there is not a centimetre of flat road on the route means that not only the breakaway specialists, but also the main contenders should be prominent at the front of the race. It looks a bit like the route of one of Belgium’s Ardennes Classics. Although there aren’t “walls” like the 15 and 20 per cent slopes of La Redoute in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, there is no respite. The roads twist and turn as well, and this could lead to a lot of nervous exhaustion towards the end of the stage. The last six kilometres are a bit like those of another Classic, Milan-San Remo, as it descends off the Poggio. The closing kilometres here are downhill, but not as twisting as San Remo, but there’s little chance of the bunch coming back together on the run-in.”


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