The first summit finish of the season? It depends if you include Willunga in the Tour Down Under but the Tour of the Mediterranean tackles Mont Faron today- snow permitting – and it is an indisputable mountain top finish.
Mont Faron is a cliff-like mountain above the port city of Toulon, base of the French navy. There is a narrow road – so narrow it’s one way – that leads to the top, some 584 metres above sea level. From the junction on the edge of town it’s a shade under 5km, with ramps of 12% and an average of 10%. The road surface is granular at best, with a patchwork of repairs and some switchbacks on the way up as you pass the typical landscape of small oak trees and arid terrain and slowly gaining a great view of the bay below.
Who will win?
If the stages have been relatively flat so far and more so because snow has meant last-minute route changes, today should be different as Mont Faron is close enough to see to enjoy milder weather. Predicting the winner is hard since the climb is not one for pure climbers nor powerful finishers; plus we’ve not yet seen any of the riders in action on a climb like this so far this season.
The gradient and distance means it tends to suit a lighter rider capable of explosive accelerations. But positioning is very important, the approach to the climb is narrow and fighting for position is tricky. David Moncoutié normally hates fighting for position but has won several times on here. Look for Stefano Garzelli, Dan Martin and Thibault Pinot, as well as Nairo Quintana and Astana’s Igor Silin. And Thomas Voeckler is racing too.
If the snow doesn’t stop things the race will be televised in France so there’s a good chance it is streamed on the internet for people to watch around the world. As ever, cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv are the go-to websites to find live video content.
- Footnote: I put a similar article on here last year. As the season’s first summit finish it’s always worth a mention. With the race under threat, here’s hoping I can cover the first summit finish of 2013 too.