Thursday 12 July
Twenty years ago Albertville hosted the Winter Olympic Games — today riders will set off from the famous resort town for an Alpine stage with huge elevation gains over a relatively short route. On a day that could have serious GC implications, the peloton will cover 140km, and tackle some notorious climbs, summiting the hors catégorie Col de la Madeleine and the Col de la Croix de Fer before facing the Col du Mollard and the Cat. 1 finish climb up to La Toussuire.
With barely a flat kilometer once the race hits the mountains, this a day for the climbers like Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) and Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) to make big gains — if they are to have a shot at the final podium.
“The course is simple: after the first 13 kilometers from Albertville, the peloton will be hard pressed to find a single inch of flat terrain! The cyclists will tackle La Madeleine, La Croix de Fer and Le Mollard one after the other before the final climb up La Toussuire,” technical director Jean-François Pescheux said on the race’s website. “Let me tell you, the final podium will start to take shape on the finish line here! Those who falter in this stage will get no second chances. The winner will not be known yet, but the losers certainly will.”
Riders will climb the 22.4km, 6.9-percent Col de la Croix de Fer via the Col du Glandon before stair-stepping to the base of the finish climb via the Col du Mollard. The profile has the makings of a big-time mountain stage with a long-range attack from the GC riders. Some of the x-factor riders like Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) or Roman Kreuziger (Astana) could be there on the Toussuire to attack and make themselves known before the race leaves the Alps. Whatever happens, the time gaps here will be big and at least one of the big favorites will almost certainly see their GC hopes washed away on the race’s second summit finish.
The Tour has often passed through Albertville but has stopped there only once. The Critérium du Dauphiné often visits the city. In 2011, after departing from there, Belgium’s Van Den Broeck experienced the best moment of his young career by winning in Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, ahead of Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha) and Evans. The ski resort town of La Toussuire has also hosted only previous Tour stage, in 2006.