Tour de France video preview: La Planche des Belles Filles to blow race apart
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Friday, July 06, 2012

Tour de France video preview: La Planche des Belles Filles to blow race apart

by Shane Stokes at 6:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Video
 
Preview of tomorrow’s first summit finish of the 2012 Tour de France

La Planche des Belle FillesThe riders still have to negotiate todays’ flat stage to Metz, but the Tour de France will take a very different tone tomorrow when the riders hit the mountains and have the first summit finish of the race.

The Planche des Belle Filles will feature for the first time ever in the Tour, and is set to completely upend the general classification. Eight and a half kilometres in length, it rises from 483 metres to 1035 meters in that distance and will tear the bunch apart.

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Nissan), who has led the race since the prologue, will almost certainly lose his lead, while the second-placed rider Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) will do what he can to take over at the top.

However the stage is not just about that final ramp; prior to that the riders will encounter the Col de Grosse Pierre, which may only be ranked a category three ascent, but which rises to almost a thousand metres. That comes 112 kilometres into the 199 kilometre stage and is followed 38.5 kilometres later by another third category climb, the Col du Mont de Fourche.

The profile makes it almost certain a break will go prior to that final climb, with the peloton working to limit its advantage and also to get the GC leaders into the best possible position before the bunch explodes.

“This stage is going to hurt,” predicts Tour route directory Jean-François Pescheux. “Then the best will duke it out on La Planche des Belles Filles. An 8.5% gradient with certain sections at 13%. A gruelling climb..."

In fact, according to IG Sigma Sport rider and former Garmin-Cervelo competitor Daniel Lloyd, ASO’s estimation of the climb is understated.

“According to my computer it ramped up to 22 percent for the last 100 metres or so before flattening out to the line,” he said in the video preview below. “This is a really tough test, like we are expecting to see in the Flèche Wallonne, up the Mur de Huy.”

The difficulty will be compounded by the fact that the climbers have just three big summit finishes in the race and need to take full advantage of every opportunity to gain time over the other GC contenders. There’s over 100 kilometres of time trials in the race and unless they take minutes out of riders such as Bradley Wiggins and last year’s winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), their chances of winning the race are zilch.

As a result, riders such as Frank Schleck (RadioShack Nissan), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and others will need to attack early in the first category climb and try to blow things apart prior to the summit.

Watch the video below for full details of tomorrow’s race route.


 

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