Stage 8: Tomblaine - Gérardmer La Mauselaine
Highest point: 901m
We finally get a first look at some of the higher mountains, as the race moves into the Vosges. This won’t be a major test for the general classification riders, but we will get an inkling as to whose form is where.
The riders face more than 130 kilometres of flat roads, before three closely packed ascents to the summit finish at Gérardmer La Mauselaine. The sprinters shouldn’t have too many problems with the time cut today, as the average pace should be high, thus extending the cut.
This will be notable for being the first opportunity for the overall contenders to put some time into each other, but they’re unlikely to be pushing each other for victory just yet. So realistically, today is probably the best chance yet for a breakaway to succeed.
It could be a day for the French with Sylvain Chavanel and Thomas Voeckler enjoying this kind of parcours. If they do hope to stay away they will have to make the most of the flat roads and build up a solid advantage before the first climb of the Col de la Croix des Moinats.
The final ascent Gérardmer La Mauselaine is the shortest of the day, but with a 10.3 per cent average gradient it is a tough climb. At only 1.8 kilometres, a rider can make a move near the bottom and make it stick.
Jean-Christophe Péraud says... "This is an important stage because it's a day where leaders will want to score against opponents and I expect the final three climbs will open gaps. This is where the Tour really starts and an opportunity for the climbers to avenge their losses on the pavé."
This stage is the first of three stages heading through the Vosges mountains. He won’t be in contention on this stage, but the course goes right FDJ’s Nacer Bouhanni’s hometown of Épinal. The Frenchman debuted at the Tour de France last year, but he had already abandoned at this point. The intermediate sprint comes just after Épinal, a chance for Bouhanni to shine in front of friends and family.
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