The general classification contenders will come out to play as the Tour de France faces its first summit finish atop of La Planche des Belles Filles on Stage 5. Join The Roar for live coverage and updates from 9:20pm (AEST).
Yesterdays’s finishing town of Vittel is the start of today’s stage, with the riders heading along flat roads for the first 100 kilometres, before the intermediate sprint point in the town of Faucogney.
Immediately after this point, the road heads upwards towards the first of two classified climbs on the day’s route.
The Category 3 climb of the Cote d’Esmoulières is 2.3 kilometres long with an average gradient of 8 per cent.
The climb though continues for the next 15 kilometres after the official King of the Mountains point, with a gradual false flat period then leading into a descent back into the valley roads heading towards the final test on the day’s route.
The run into the bottom of the final climb includes a long gradual ascent from 25 kilometres to go, which goes for around 10 kilometres before the road quickly drops into the final climb leaving the riders with six kilometres to go.
Those final six kilometres are up the hardest climb of the Tour so far, with the Category 1 climb of La Planche des Belles Filles.
The climb has been used twice in Tour history, with Chris Froome taking his first Tour stage win here in 2012, while Italian Vincenzo Nibali took the win back in 2014.
Race director Christian Prudhomme’s commented on the stage by saying “It only took two stage finishes there for La Planche des Belles Filles to add its name to the history of the Tour. The climb is rather short, however it’s extremely demanding, especially on the final part. The gradients indeed reach 20 per cent. It’ll be a first explanation between the favourites.”
While the final ramp includes gradients of 20 per cent, making the final 500 metres insanely difficult, the average gradient of the climb is 8.5 per cent for a little under six kilometres.
The easiest part of the climb is with five kilometres to go, with the following kilometre being under 7 per cent in average gradient.
I expect or at least hope for fireworks on the final climb, however with there being no major difficulties preceding the final climb, the Sky train may well be able to control the pace well enough to nullify any attacks by opportunistic general classification contenders.
For mine, Richie Porte and Chris Froome will go head to head, but can Nairo Quintana keep up? Be sure to join The Roar live coverage of Stage 5 of the Tour de France from 9:20pm (AEST).