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The BMC Teammachine of the American GC hopeful
Hyper-aggressive position for the sprint lead-out
How much air pressure pros use at the Tour de France
National theme bike for Tour's lone Japanese rider
Category: High mountains
Highest point: 1,730m
The first of two stages through the Alps has an awkward, rearing profile with three categorised climbs. An early climb up the cat 3 Col de la Croix de Montvieux at 24km could be the springboard for a day-long break, but it’s when the race hits the little known Col de Palaquit where the GC and KOM jersey contenders’ teams will be paying the closest attention.
The 14km Palaquit has a kinky profile with plenty of opportunity for guerrilla contenders to launch an attack as it will be difficult for the big GC teams to dictate the pace up the climb. The reward for topping the Palaquit with a decent gap is a rapid descent down to Grenoble before the 18.2km slog up to the ski station. Along the way they’ll tackle section of sustained 12 per cent on the HC category climb, which is just the sort of arena where climbers might pull the pin in the hope of gaining time over struggling rivals.
It’ll be a courageous GC contender who reckons they’ve got the weaponry to attack on the Palaquit and hold on to the finish. That said, a strong and sustains move here could be enough to put the screws on a vulnerable rival. Given the stage, it’s an ideal place for a rider of the future to make a breakthrough. Someone with class but still waiting to be seen as a real podium threat? Look no further than 23-year-old Romain Bardet, who knows these roads intimately and has had a towering season so far.
Koen de Kort says... "I'd be surprised if the GC contenders don't try to win this stage. Maybe a breakaway might stick but I'm expecting one of the real climbers to take this and I can't really see beyond Chris Froome. He's proved over the last 12 months he's the best."
The colourful French rider Roger Rivière, was born in Saint Étienne. The double Hour Record setter in 1957 and 1959 was a favourite to win the 1960 Tour after attacking his own team-mate on the road to Lorient. But on a stage to Lorient he was following the yellow jersey down a descent when he crashed and fell down a ravine, breaking his back. Powerful painkillers were blamed for his slow reflexes that day.