There’s a nasty sting in the tail of the 2014 Tour de France’s first true mountain stage, with three short, sharp climbs packed into the final 30km of racing.
The stage is flat for 130 of its 161km length- but the ease of those opening few hours is no more than a cruel deception. At kilometre 142 the riders hit the Category 2 Col de la Croix des Moinats followed almost immediately by the climb of Grosse Pierre- less than half the length of the former but with some devilishly steep 10% ramps.
The finish up to Gérardmer La Mauselaine should be even more decisive. At just 1.8km but with an average gradient of 10.3%it looks perfect for a punchy rider like Alejandro Valverde or Joaquim Rodriguez, if his condition is good.
It’s even possible that one of the favourites- Chris Froome perhaps- may choose to spring a surprise as the Tour route heads inexorably towards the sky.
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