Stage 11: Sorgues - Maulacène
Stage 11: Saugues - Malaucène
Date: July 7, 2021
Stage timing: 12:00 - 17:18 CEST
Stage type: Mountain
This highly anticipated stage that features the Tour’s first ever double ascent of Mont Ventoux takes place wholly within the Vaucluse. It starts in the Rhône valley at Sorgues, where 'the Giant of Provence' is a looming presence on clear days, heading east to begin with into the Luberon Natural Park.
Here, there are two fourth-category climbs that will provide a launch pad for the break if it’s not formed beforehand and a chance for the escapees to open up a significant gap on the peloton. The route weaves its way onwards to Apt, where it tacks directly to the north, leaving the Luberon via the first-category Liguière pass.
The steady drop from the Liguière leads to Sault and the start of the first ascent of the Ventoux, via the easiest of the three routes to this infamous summit, but also the longest at 22.5km. Winding up through thick woodland, the gradient isn’t at all taxing until the road reaches Chalet Reynard and joins the route up from Bédoin. At this point, above the trees and exposed to the elements, the gradient becomes significantly steeper, the distinctive tower at the summit regularly visible but never seeming to get closer as the road weaves in and out of the gulleys etched into the mountainside.
From the summit, which is rated first-category on this first passage, the riders will plunge down the western side of the Ventoux to Malaucène, a descent where 1966 Tour winner Lucien Aimar said the police motorbike following him down this flank in 1967 touched 140km/h. After passing through the finish at Malaucène for the first time, the riders will bump over the uncategorised (and not the renowned) Col de la Madeleine to Bédoin to take on the classic ascent of the Ventoux, 15.7km long and averaging 8.8%.
The first section through the woods to Chalet Reynard is relentlessly steep. At the tiny ski station, the riders will return to the course they followed 90 minutes earlier, battling up to the summit, then hurtling away from it down to the finish in Malaucène.
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