The climbs. All three present unique difficulties — the Marie Blanque is very steep, the Soulor is a real grind, while the Tourmalet is both. And to make things even more challenging, the approach to all three climbs involves riding uphill. From Adast, just along the valley from the bottom of the Soulor, it's a 240 metre climb to Luz St Sauveur, at the bottom of the Tourmalet. Domestiques are going to get burned up like matches along the route today.
WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN?
It obviously depends on what has happened before, but hopefully this stage will be everything that the Ventoux wasn't last year. It's deliberately designed to be the climbers' last hurrah — there isn't a single categorised climb after this, and it gives them all the terrain they need to make sure that the Tour doesn't come down to the final time trial.
Tactically, the Tourmalet is the best option for Tour-winning attacks. The Marie Blanque and Soulor are not, because of the uphill valley roads that follow. These favour co-ordinated chases. But once the favourites are on the Tourmalet, they are on their own.
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