Here we go: the first mountain stage of this year's Tour de France. For all 224 kilometres of today's ride, the roads will be uphill - save for the descent of the first of the two climbs, the Port d'Oliana, a 7.7km-mountain averaging 7.1 percent gradient. Afterwards, it will be a long drag up to the tiny Principality of Andorra and its ski station, the first of three mountain top finishes of this year's Tour.
The last time the Tour came to Arcalis, in 1997, Jan Ullrich broke away solo on the final stretch to the summit (10.6km at 7.1 percent) and lay the foundations for his later overall win. Today, the GC favourites should come out of their hiding places in the pack and put their climbing legs to the test. Spanish climbers will be especially motivated to score the victory in a bid for the polkadot - or the yellow jersey.