There were the first skirmishes in Brittany last weekend, then the bumpy roads of the Morvan this Friday, but this weekend, it will be something else. The mountain, the real one. The altitude. The collars. The peloton will only spend two days in the Alps, but some may remember it.
From Sunday evening, it will be over for the main massif of France. This 108th edition gave pride of place to the Pyrenees, where runners will almost camp for five days. But the intensity of the crossing of the Alps can allow these two stages to play a major role in this Tour 2021.
Saturday – 8th stage
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Arrival: Le Grand Bornand
Distance : 150,8 km
Departure time: 1:15 p.m.
A word from Christian Prudhomme (LeTour.fr): “After 2009 and 2018, the arrival in Grand-Bornand will again be conditioned by the Romme – Colombière sequence. But preceded, this time, by the ascent to Mont-Saxonnex (5.7 km at 8.3%), the first level to the Solaison plateau, to compose a triptych of more than 20 km of ascent at almost 9% on average. Obviously reserved for great climbers!”
After a week in the plains, the Tour finally attacks the mountain and will begin it as in 2018 with an arrival at Le Grand Bornand beyond the chain of the Col de Romme and La Colombière. Two fairly similar but terribly difficult climbs (8.8km at 8.9% and 7.5km at 8.5%) and separated only by a small descent of six kilometers. And the road will be made even harder by the unprecedented climb of the Mont Savonnex hill (6.1km at 8.1%). Enough to offer more than 24 kilometers at more than 8% in the last 55 kilometers, the rest being downhill. A program that will not forgive the slightest weakness.
The profile of the 8th stage: The Alps through the big gate
The first 100 kilometers of the stage will not pose any particular problems, even if the route is far from flat, with two difficulties listed, the Côte de Copponex (6.5 km at 4.4% average) and the Côte de Menthonnex-en-Bornes (2.7 km at 4.9%). But this stage will save the best for the end with the sequence of three first category climbs.
First, the Côte de Mont-Saxonnex, at the exit of Thuet. The climb will be brief for a first category (5.7 km), but apart from the last hectometers, the slope is constantly severe, oscillating between 8 and 10%, without ever offering a break. A good start before the classic series of passes of Romme and Colombière, which Julian Alaphilippe made his honey in 2018.
If they are not listed in Out of category, it is only because of their too short length. Less than 9 kilometers for Romme, and only 7.5 for Colombière. But in terms of difficulty, the count is good! The foot of the Col de la Romme is grueling, while the last four kilometers of the ascent of Colombière are formidable. It is clearly a playing field for making gaps. Note that at the top of the Colombière, bonuses will be awarded: 8, 5 and 2 seconds to the first three, in addition to those awarded at the finish line (10, 6 and 4).
At the top of the last climb, there will be a little less than 15 kilometers of descent to reach Le Grand-Bornand with a last kilometer slightly uphill.
Sunday – 9th stage
Distance : 145 km
Departure time: 1:10 p.m.
A word from Christian Prudhomme (LeTour.fr): “We had promised ourselves to return to Tignes quickly to erase the frustration of the meeting prevented in 2019. The Tour will keep our word by taking the Col du Pré for the second time, then the majestic Cormet de Roselend before climbing up, by the long final climb that threads under the dam, up to Val Claret.”
Five climbs in total. Two in the 2nd category, two in the 1st category and the first non-category pass of this Tour de France 2021. It is the Col du Pré (see below). It will also be the very first arrival at the top of this edition, which has only three. And of the three, it will probably be the least selective. Like the day before, a short stage, even more than that of Saturday, which promises commitment and nervousness from the blow of the gong, even if the configuration of this route risks limiting the great fight for the general classification to the last kilometers …
The profile of the 9th stage: First “Hors category” then arrival at the top
The first two difficulties will be the Côte de Domancy (2.5km at 9.4%), which should allow the breakaway of the day to form, then the Col des Saisies (9.4km at 6.2%), relatively rolling and which is generally swallowed without major difficulty except for the most resistant to the mountains.
Everything will change with the col du pré, first Out of category therefore of this Tour 2021. A long climb of 12.6 kilometers at 7.7% average. But its real difficulty lies for 7 kilometers, after the slight flatness of kilometer 4. There, the average slope is around 10%, before the last 600 more rolling meters to the top.
The descent will be brief and will hardly allow you to breathe before you quickly climb back up to the Cormet de Roselend, especially delicate in its first section. The only regret is that the Col du Pré is located in the middle of the stage. He will wear out the bodies, but his position in the race will not encourage the outbreak of a significant fight between the favorites.
Especially since after the Cormet de Roselend, a long descent and a transition in the valley await the runners to the foot of the rise of Tignes. This is endless (21 kilometers) but ultimately only presents a few really selective sections. But those who approach it a little in the orange turning red after the efforts made throughout the weekend risk paying dearly.
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