On Thursday Stage 4 of the Dauphiné goes to Risoul, the first summit finish of the stage race. It’s a climb that’s not been used much before, so here is a brief introduction:
Climb By Bike has the full profile and states “the Risoul – Station ascent is 14 km long. Over this distance, you climb 850 heightmeters. The average percentage is thus 6.1 %” but this includes a downhill section out of Guillestre, where the climb begins, so the average gradient of the climb is more like 7% in reality. The climb has sections at 8% but not much more. Indeed it’s a regular first category climb, not hors catégorie.
The riders will approach the final climb after almost 200km of racing, most of it in the big ring given the lack of other recognised climbs during the day. So the first shock to the system will be the abrupt change of rhythm. After a few kilometres the race enters the forest and it’s a very scenic ride, only the race won’t have much time for tourism as this is where the steepest parts begin. It’s then a solid climb up to the finish where the slope levels off right at the end.
A hard climb for sure after 200km but steady. There’s a good chance a breakaway will go earlier in the day and the GC hopefuls will have to stick their teams on the front to limit the time gap. We should get a good view of who is able to climb in the race but unless a rider cracks then the time gaps won’t be huge.
One additional variable to watch is the weather, with thunderstorms hanging around the Alps right now.