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Crucial stage for overall
The general classification leader could change again today as the Tour reaches the Swiss mountains. The second of the three mountain top finishes of this year's Grande Boucle in Verbier is another chapter on the road to the overall victory.
For starters, the GC favourites will warm up their legs on the Col des Mosses (13.8 km at 4 percent) before tackling the final climb up to the ski resort (8.8 km at 7.1 percent) after a pretty long journey of 207 kilometres.
Verbier welcomes the Tour for the first time, but has plenty of experience as a stage finish in the Tour de Suisse. The final ascent will reveal some of the tactics of the overall contenders, who should use the opportunity to gain some seconds - or minutes - on their rivals before the ultimate challenge on the Mont Ventoux.
I went up to Verbier this winter to ski… er… scout the finish of this stage.
This stage which comes right before the rest day should be interesting, and the focus will come back to the GC battle. After two weeks of intense racing, Verbier will provide a not overly hard climb, but positioning into the bottom of this climb will be crucial. It’s a gradual grade on an ever-narrowing road.
I think this stage will be contested by a group of 15 to 20 riders, so someone with a bit of a sprint left at the end of a climb will take the day. Frank Schleck, if his knee is okay, or Kim Kirchen would be my picks.