There’s also a bonus climb after the categorised ones and just for fun it’s got running water, loose gravel and potholes on the way up… and down.
- Km 141.0 – Côte de Rogna, 7.6 kilometre-long climb at 4.9% – category 3
- Km 148.5 – Côte de Choux, 1.7 kilometre-long climb at 6.5% – category 3
- Km 152.5 – Côte de Désertin, 3.1 kilometre-long climb at 5.2% – category 4
- Km 168.0 – Côte d’Échallon, 3 kilometre-long climb at 6.6% – category 3
A flat start to Arbois, famous for Pasteur and its wines there’s a good climb that’s not categorised, it’s uphill for 6km but all in the big ring. After the intermediate sprint the race heads into the Jura mountains for the gradual ascent towards Les Crozets before dropping down to the Bienne valley. It’s here after 130km that things get harder with three climbs in a row that really make up a much longer ascent that the modest categories suggest.
The Côte de Rogna starts with a big regular road uphill and towards the top turns via a hairpin towards the village of Rogna, borrowing a much more narrow road. It’s followed by a rolling section before turning onto a small road for a brieft twisty descent before starting the Côte de Choux, listed as 1.7 kilometre-long climb at 6.5% but really 1.2km at over 10% making it that bit more selective.
The Côte de Désertin is up next and an easier climb on a long and wide road. It’s followed by an open and accessible descent to the village of Echallon. From there the route briefly borrows from the route of the 2013 Dauphiné with the Côte d’Échallon, aka Côte de Bugnon last year. It’s a twisting road uphill and briefly has the feel of a proper mountain road.
And that’s it, right? Actually the four climbs so far are selective but there’s a surprises. Look again at the profile at the top and you’ll see an unmarked climb after the four . To get there after the Côte d’Échallon the road plunges via a sharp left turn onto a narrow, shaded and rough road complete with potholes, gravel and running water streaming streaming over the road. It’s brief but twisty and emerges by a scenic lake. The road quickly kicks up and it’s very narrow, shaded by trees, covered in gravel and steep in places. It’s a 1.8km at 7% but hits 12%. It’s not fiendish but could be a nasty surprise for some.
After a brief section on a narrow descent the race picks up a wider road, returning to roads familiar from the 2013 Dauphiné and it’s fast descent into Oyonnax.
The Finish: flat for a sprint. The race drops into town and the roads gradually get flatter and wider. The finishing straight is 1,500 metres long.
The Scenario: a grand day for a breakaway. With many riders well down on GC many riders have a ticket to ride today without having to worry about Astana and the other teams looking to chase them down and today’s finish is too hilly for all the sprinters team’s to get excited. We can expect a big fight to get in the move because the upcoming days won’t offer escapees such a chance.
The only threat to the breakaway is Peter Sagan and his Cannondale team. The finish of the race is too much for most of the sprinters but could suit him. When the Dauphiné rode to Oyonnax in 2013 Elia Viviani won the stage and it was hilly but had less climbing and it was only Stage 2 meaning fresher legs; that said the race split and only 76 riders came in together, the rest found the climbing too much. With this in mind Cannondale could try to do what they did in Albi last year, namely set a pace that’s ruinous for the rival sprinters. But last year’s coup involved an early climb and once the sprinters were broken Cannondale simply had to herd the survivors on; not easy but today’s finish can see a team accelerate but it can’t control events so easily.
Even if there’s a break up the road the bunch could have it’s say. The final hills lend the stage the feel of a classic and could allow some riders the chance to go up the road and take back lost time. Probably not a big battle but some riders lurking in the top-20 could try it.
The Contenders: will Peter Sagan go in the break? If he does he’s an obvious pick given he’s likely to win from a group finish or maybe just ride away on the last climb.
Tinkoff-Saxo now have stage wins to aim for and their best rider seems to be Nicolas Roche but pick from others too. Other perfect riders for today’s terrain include Orica-Greenedge pair Simon Gerrans and Michael Albasini. Talking of pairings, OPQS have Michał Kwiatkowski and Jan Bakelants, the Belgian’s been quiet so far. The team has Matteo Trentin too but this might be too hilly for him; the same for Greg Van Avermaet. Given the climbing and descending menti0ned above, the likes of Yuri Trofimov could do well.
If not we’re getting to the point where we know the breakaway riders. It takes a lot to get up the road and once a rider starts doing it after the first week they’re likely to repeat. Watch Sylvain Chavanel, Blel Kadri, Tony Gallopin was third in Oyonnax when the Dauphiné visited. He was shattered after his day in yellow but could pop up in the sprint. Europcar will try again and the hills suit Pierre Rolland, Thomas Voeckler and Cyril Gauthier. What of Team Sky? They could let Vasil Kiriyenka of the leash for once but he’s got a job to do in the coming days.
|Simon Gerrans, Michael Albasini|
|Sylvain Chavanel, Nicolas Roche, Yuri Trofimov|
|Van Avermaet, Gallopin, Rolland, Voeckler, Rojas, Slagter, Rogers, Kadri|
Weather: so sunny and warm the riders will be able to smell it. Yes summer is back and the tarmac is melting. Sunshine with a few clouds and temperatures of 25-27°C.
TV: the stage starts at 12.30pm Euro time with KM0 and the race at 12.50pm. The TV starts around 2.00pm just after the climb out of Arbois. The start of the climbing finish is around 4.00pm with the finish expected for 5.15pm.
History: the Tour has done it’s commemoration of war but Oyonnax (you don’t pronounce the “x”) and the hills hosted a different kind of warfare, namely the resistance to Nazi occupation. In 1943 some locals decided to commemorate Armistice Day, 11 November against the orders of the occupation government. The resistance came out in force to march and place a wreath at a war memorial, a bold move but with consequences: many were rounded up, deported to concentration camps and were never seen again.