Stage 8: Ramaz and Morzine preview

This is the first mountain stage of the race. Whilst Saturday’s stage up to the ski station of Les Rousses saw some climbing, the uphill sections often averaged below 5%. Indeed Les Rousses is more the sort of place where people do XC skiing. Morzine-Avoriaz on the other hand is where you go for downhill skiing, it’s significantly higher up.

Given the early significance of this, I’ll try to give plenty of detail on the climbs.

Col de la Ramaz

After the stage rolls through the Rhone valley and Geneva, it then heads towards the Alps. First up comes the Col de la Ramaz. It’s reminiscent of the Joux Plane because of the way it winds up through alpine meadows. It’s a very irregular climb, some hairpins are flat, some are steep.

It starts steep but then there’s a brief downhill section, the profile doesn’t quite capture this. Then it kicks upwards, the road keeps changing gradient as it goes past the fields.

Finally the road reaches a cliff and hugs the mountain face. This is the red section on the profile, this is a kilometre at over 10% and it’s around this point that the riders go through a tunnel. The TV cameras will blank this moment but it marks the hardest point of the climb. But the road soon flattens out afterwards as the road loops around the Sommand area, riders dropped on the steep section should be able to employ the big ring to get back in contention before a final kick up to pass over the Ramaz.

The Descent
The descent passes through the ski village of Praz-de-Lys and then takes in a very fast but technical descent. The ramps between each hairpin are often more than 10% so riders hurtle into each steep corner.

Les Gets

It’s easy to forget the climb up to Les Gets. As soon as the descent is finished, the riders will climb up 4km at 5%. It’s not hard but it’s a chance for an unmarked rider to get away and it also means another moment to sap the legs.


Avoriaz is a corporate-owned resort above Morzine. The road is designed for easy access, to allow bus loads of tourists to get up in the winter. It’s 13.5km and averages 6.1%. It has harder sections, note the red moment 9km from the finish. This bit could make the ideal springboard for an attack but it’s perhaps too far from the finish to jump. Should Contador go here the risk is that others use the easier slopes later on to haul him back.

In general it’s a steady finish. I think it suits the race not to have a killer finish, this will allow the real GC riders to test their legs but it shouldn’t fix the overall classification in one go. Bring it on!

Profiles from the useful