Short but tough Vosges climbs herald Alps

The Tour has reached Eastern France after a series of flat stages, and therefore, it is time for some hills again. We're in the region of the Vosges mountains with three small but difficult climbs to master: the Col de la Schlucht (8.9 km at 4.1 percent), the Col du Platzerwasel (8.7 km at 7.6 percent) and the Col du Firstplan (8.4 km at 5.4 percent).

These look harmless on paper, but could reveal themselves as treacherous for the general classification contenders - remember when Lance Armstrong got isolated from his teammates back in the 2005 Tour's stage 8? That was on the Col de la Schlucht.

So the road between Vittel and Colmar has all the makings of a tricky stage, and will surely see a medium-mountain specialist take the honours.

See full-size map and profile.

Vaughters' views

This could be another day for Friere. A power climber or break survivor could win on this day, but if Friere is in the hunt for the green jersey, he could certainly do well on a stage like this. It will depend lot on the objectives of his Rabobank team.

This will be a great stage to watch, as it will be unpredictable and dynamic, I just don’t quite know who will win…

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