Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 preview: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - La Toussuire - Les Sybelles, 138 km

Even by the brutal standards of the 2015 Tour route, this stage stands out as a sadistic piece of route planning by the race organisers. Good or bad days for the climbers here will be magnified by the exacting series of climbs, the Col du Chaussy, the Col de la Croix de Fer, the Col du Mollard and La Toussuire, and it will be a crucial day in the general classification.

The Chaussy is a new Tour climb (although its descent incorporates part of the often-used Col de la Madeleine), but the Croix de Fer is a real Tour stalwart. In a reminder to the riders of the essential inevitability of upward gradients at the Tour de France, they are being sent right back up the same road they descended from the Col du Glandon just the day before, but once they reach the top they will turn left and climb another three kilometres to the Croix de Fer’s summit. The long descent of the Croix de Fer is interrupted by the second category Col du Mollard, which itself has a televisual set of hairpins on the descent, and then the riders tackle the long grind up to La Toussuire, a summit finish which makes up for a relative overall lack of steepness with a very hard start and a long duration.

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