Lyon climbs set to provide thrilling finale at the Tour de France

Barely five kilometres separate the top of the two late climbs on stage 14 of the Tour de France, the Cote de la Duchere and the Cote de la Croix-Rousse and despite being just fourth category, they are close enough together and hard enough to cause problems in any race scenario.

The Cote de La Duchere (at 176km, with its summit 15 kilometres from the finish) starts with a left-hand bend and then climbs steadily right on a straight broad route for most of its 1.6km length. With about 500 metres to go it eases back slightly, before a slight kick up to the top.

The descent though, is complicated: very fast and quite narrow in one single, sweeping right hand bend, with a tricky little bend at the bottom. And about 500 metres later, after a quick dash across the Pont Georges Clemenceau bridge, the next climb, the 1.8 kilometre Cote de La Croix-Rousse starts immediately.

Again this is fairly gentle, but unlike the Duchere, it features a series of hairpin bends. Anybody getting away at that point will soon be out of sight. About 200 metres from the summit, situated 9.5 kilometres from the finish, the road straightens out and then continues level for another 200 metres before a sharp swing left for another 300 metres. Only then, after this chunk of level riding through the streets of Lyon, does the descent begin. It is fast and this time with a very dangerous right-hand bend at the bottom as the road narrows to single width.

After all of these technical sections, which seem destined to split up the front group and make the race very difficult to control, the last six kilometres are all relatively plain sailing alongside Lyon’s riverfront. These are straight, broad boulevards with just two big corners leading into finishing straight more than two kilometres long. A sprinter’s dream but only if they have managed to get over the two final climbs in the front group: unlikely.

One final point: both climbs are well within the city limits of Lyon, providing additional problems with traffic obstacles, greasy urban roads, traffic dirt and speed bumps.

Climb details:

Km 176 - Cota de la Duchère (4ª) 1,6 Km al 4,1%.
Km 181,5 - Cota de la Croix-Rousse (4ª) 1,8 Km al 4,5%

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.