Tour de France 2016 Stage 17 preview: Berne - Finhaut-Emosson, 184km

The day after a repose in Berne, four big stages in the Alps mean this stage is sure to offer up races within races. Before the stage hits its crux, the penultimate climb, the peloton will have traversed the third category Saanenmöser and Col des Mosses climbs, the latter of which towers over Aigle, home of the UCI. Finhaut-Emosson was first used in the Dauphiné two years ago and this year the Col de la Gueulaz – the actual name of the climb – accedes to the Tour. It’s a brute and has only been made accessible by the opening of a tunnel through the mountain which will transfer the riders back to France. The stage adopts the same approach as the corresponding stage in the Dauphiné, by tackling the tough Col de la Forclaz (12.6km at 8.2 per cent) before dropping back down to the small town of Trient. Then the peloton tackles the lighter lower slopes of the Gueulaz, which turns vindictive in the final 7km, with gradients well over 10 per cent in places. The last 800m or so are all above 12 per cent. When the Dauphiné tackled it in 2014, riders finished in tired dribs and drabs.

Given what’s just come before and what lies ahead, it’s likely that an escape of top climbers and GC rejects will fight out this stage by using the Forclaz as a springboard to move clear and contest the stage. The GC riders will bide their time until the closing kilometres above Finhaut. In 2014, Contador attacked Froome here with a couple of kilometres to go and turned a 12-second deficit into an eight-second lead.

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