With three classified climbs on the day’s route, Stage 8 offers something for both the opportunists and the general classification favourites.
The stage starts in the town of Dole, with the riders heading to the finish at Station des Rousses, a further 187.5 kilometres down the road.
The road is flat for the first 30 kilometres, before the riders start an unclassified climb that rises nearly all the way to the intermediate sprint point.
It’s not a brutal climb, but it most certainly is a climb, so it will be interesting to see if some of the pure sprinters, including Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) get dropped before the sprint after 45 kilometres in the town of Montrond.
After the sprint, the riders continue along lumpy roads before getting to the 100-kilometre-to-go point on the stage, where they start the first of three categorised climbs.
The first is the third category climb of the Col de la Joux, which is just over six kilometres long at an average gradient of 4.7 per cent, but has ramps of over nine per cent.
It is then a descent of around 25 kilometres before the riders set themselves up for the second category climb of the Cote de Viry, which starts with just over 50 kilometres left in the stage.
The climb is 7.5 kilometres long with an average gradient of 5.2 per cent, however it has ramps of around 10 percent.
Before the riders hit the final climb, there is a short descent of the penultimate climb, before the road rises again two times, before descending to the bottom of the most difficult stretch – the first category climb of the Cote de la Combe de Laisia-Les Molunes.
Possessing quite the name, hopefully the riders provide us with fireworks on this mountain. However, with a far more difficult stage on Saturday, look for some of the general classification riders who lost a bit of time on Stage 5 to attack away, hoping to get back on level terms with their rivals further up the leader board.
Somebody like Emanuel Buchmann (Bora Hansgrohe), who is 46 seconds down already on white jersey leader Simon Yates (Orica-Scott), is the perfect candidate for such an attack.
The climb is 11.7 kilometres, with an average gradient of 6.4 per cent, however like the other climbs is has much steeper ramps. The steepest of those ramps is reported to be 15 per cent.
This climb is completed with 12 kilometres to go, making it poorly positioned to give rise to attacking racing. However, if a team like BMC rides the whole stage on the front hard, that may be a very different story.
In those final 12 kilometres there is a short descent of the climb, before a gradual uphill run until seven kilometres to go. Then the road descends sharply before heading upwards with six kilometres to go.
It is a 6 percent gradient for the first kilometre, then it softens to three per cent for the next two kilometres. That leaves the riders with just outside two kilometres to go.
The road then descends until 1.5 to go, before it goes false flat all the way to the finish.
Today’s stage will test the legs, but it shouldn’t be pivotal at the end of the three weeks of racing.The breakaway should have some chance of getting away today, as the general classification men ahead towards Saturday’s brutal stage.