This stage could be viewed as a transition between two great setpieces. There are five passes on the menu and they ensure that whoever wins today will have to work extremely hard for it. The road climbs almost from the off. A group of hopefuls are sure to try their luck on the Glandon, which leads almost immediately onto the Madeleine, which averages almost eight per cent for 20km. These climbs may not trouble anyone at the top of the classification because they come so early on what is a long day in the mountains but the toll they take will become evident later on.
The Tamié is followed by the tougher ascent of the Col de l'Épine, which leads into a harder test in the shape of the Croix Fry. The day's parcours could see the yellow jersey group disintegrate if the pure climbers have the legs and desire to push hard. If any of the leaders do end up with a significant gap crossing the Croix Fry, their reward is a wonderfully fast descent into Le Grand-Bornand.
Barry Hoban: "Vincenzo Nibali can take advantage of difficult mountain stages that end with a sharp descent. The run into Le Grand Bornand is that technical but if the Italian does start the Tour after his great performance at the Giro this is one of the days when he'll have to be watched."
It was obvious throughout the 2009 Tour that the Astana riders weren't happy, but never more so than on the stage into Le Grand-Bornand. Race leader Alberto Contador put his teammate Andreas Klöden in trouble with an attack on the final climb and went away with the Schleck brothers. Cue moralising by Lance Armstrong…