Stage 17: Crunch day in the Alps

Five-ascent monster stage

Today's stage is a constant up and down through the high mountains of the Savoie and Haute-Savoie. Five classified climbs are on the menu from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand: the Cormet de Roselend (18 km at 6.1 percent), the Col des Saisies (15.1 km at 6 percent), the Côte d'Arâches (6.3 km at 7 percent), the Col de Romme (8.8 km at 8.9 percent) and the Col de la Colombière (7.5 km at 8.5 percent).

The last two climbs will be the most difficult as the ascent to the Colombière will be spiced up by the Col de Romme climb, which makes its first appearance in the Tour. Lance Armstrong took his third consecutive stage win in Le Grand-Bornand in 2004, and Germany's Linus Gerdemann won there in 2007 to take the yellow jersey. This will be a hard, long day for any rider in the peloton.

Jonathan Vaughters' views

This is a rough, rough day in the Alps without any single decisive climb, but plenty of hills.

It’s a day that will require you to be on the ball all day long. One bad moment or misjudgment by a top GC rider, and its all over.

By this point in the Tour the top five or six guys will most always be the same when the real selection is made. The grupetto will be much larger, and many will be just thinking of Paris.

This is also the ideal day to win the final polka dot jersey if it’s still up for grabs. A long break by a sturdy and recovered climber could turn the polka dot standing around at the buzzer.

My stage winner prediction? Tough to say, but if his descending skills are back to norm, I think this might be the stage that goes to seven-time winner, Lance Armstrong.

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