What will we see at the end of the day? A scene like this? Or will it be more scattered over the mountains? Photo Sirotti

The mountains kick off in earnest right at the end of the first week, and here there is simply nowhere to hide.  It’s just a ‘short’ stage but it packs a punch with the notorious Col d’Aspin to negotiate.  Expect fireworks from some of the GC contenders today.

Stage 7: L’Isle-Jourdain to Lac de Payolle – 162.5

The end of the first week of racing, and the first stage under 180 kilometres in length! However, what it lacks in distance it makes up for in suffering with the brutal category one Col d’Aspin looming to be crested just seven kilometres from the finish at Lac de Payolle. The climb itself is twelve kilometres long, with an average gradient of around 6.5 per cent, and is sure to leave only a very select group of riders at the front of the race.

The stage starts out fairly flat, but gets lumpy from around the 50 kilometre mark, with a category four climb at 117 kilometres. That is followed 20 kilometres later by the intermediate sprint, but all eyes will be on the first true mountain test of the tour. As the stage features a tricky descent before a short kick up to the finish, it could be an opportunity for some of those dropped on the climb to make their way back, but could also serve as a springboard for a daredevil descender to launch an attack and solo to a stage victory and potentially even the yellow jersey.


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