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Instead of two run-of-the-mill ‘transition’ stages between the Alps and the Pyrenees, Prudhomme and his team have opted to start the move westwards with a tricky day running through the Ardeche to the now well-known finish at Mende’s aerodrome atop the Montée Laurent Jalabert, so called after the Frenchman’s famous Bastille Day win there in 1995.
On heavy roads and over four categorised climbs, this stage could cause surprises, particularly if the temperature boils up. Spaniard Marcos Serrano won the last time the Tour finished here in 2005. Will a compatriot triumph today?