The mountains come early

Massif Central should open time gaps

After five stages featuring no more than a smattering of fourth and third category climbs – and with none at all for the last three days – the course takes a decidedly hillier turn.

After turning east yesterday, the race resumes its southerly course across France's hot Massif Central. The roads will be up and down all day, with two fourth category climbs in the first half. The final 50 kilometres is where the action starts with two second category climbs, including the 11km drag up to the finish at Super Besse.

This is the Tour's first visit to the small, fortified town of Aigurande, but it has been to the ski resort of Super Besse twice before. The last time it finished here, the stage was won by Dane Rolf Sørensen in a breakaway between the Alps and the Pyrenees. The ski resort sits 1289m high, above the town of Besse-et-Saint-Anastaise, which the stage passes through on the way to the finish.

Every year, Super Besse is the host of "La Géminiani," a cyclesportif event named after legend Raphaël Géminiani, who hails from the nearby city of Clermont-Ferrand.

Route map from bikely.com

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