A final fling in the mountains
Will the Tour still be in the balance at this point? Prudhomme and Pescheux are certainly hoping so, although they recognise this short thriller of a stage may only decide the final positions further down the top 10.
It's another day of almost constant ups and downs. The real climbing will start on Mont Revard, a famous name from the Tour's past best remembered for Cyrille Guimard's narrow victory over Eddy Merckx in 1972. Just when the route appears to be circling back on itself to Annecy, it turns sharp right and up to the resort of Semnoz that stands sentinel over the lakeside town. The climb was supposed to make its debut in the final days of the 1998 race but a riders' strike in the wake of the Festina affair meant it had to wait another 15 years to appear on a Tour stage. Rising for almost 11km at an average of 8.5 per cent, it may not suit pure climbers so much as those riders who simply have the most left in their legs on the penultimate day of the race.
Nicolas Portal: "The climbing starts from the off today. The Col des Prés is steep with a technical descent. The Revard is 15km, then there are lots of ups and downs before the narrow start up to Semnoz. The first 2km have some steep ramps but after that, it's a steady, well-surfaced, typical Alpine climb."
That doomed 1998 stage to Aix-les-Bains apart, Semnoz has no Tour history and even nearby Annecy has very little despite its position close to so many famous passes. The Tour first visited in 1959 but didn't return for another 50 years until that time trial stage won by Alberto Contador in 2009.
Maps and profiles courtesy of ASO
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