Like last year, by making the Pyrenean stages tough but not too tough, Christian Prudhomme’s intention in the Alps is to bring likely contenders to the fore but not give any of them the chance to blow the race apart.
In order to keep the battle for yellow simmering nicely, this stage avoids the big passes for something far less arduous but intriguing nevertheless. The Laffrey is one of the Tour’s oldest climbs, first featuring in 1905. The road into the finish comes down the Rochette descent where Joseba Beloki crashed and forced Lance Armstrong to divert across a mountain meadow in 2003. It adds up to an ideal day for a breakaway.
Procycling’s favourite to win:
It’s Bastille Day, so France expects. They’ll be looking to Samual Dumoulin, Sylvain Chavanel and Pierrick Fédrigo for some on-the-road fireworks before the evening’s spectacular displays. Behind these three dependables, a new generation of French climbers is emerging, including Bbox’s Cyril Gautier, whose Paris-Nice attacks impressed hugely. At 22, a Tour debut stage win may be beyond him, but Gautier’s already shown he’s not content to sit back in his favourite mountain terrain.