Today’s 194.5km stage includes the first Hors Category climb of the 2012 Tour: the 1,501m Col de Grand Colombier, another climb making its debut this year. Before attacking this climb, riders will negotiate the Cat 2 Côte de Corlier (90km). The intermediate sprint point comes at 130.5km and the serious climbing starts almost immediately. It’s not all downhill from Colombier to the finish; the Cat 3 Col de Richemond breaks up the descent into Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. Prior to the Tour starting, this was earmarked as an Andy Schleck stage. With him out, it will be interesting to see if Fränk takes up the attack. He is currently 17th in the general classification (8’19” behind the yellow jersey), so stage wins probably feature in his revised Tour goals. Evans is still in second place, 1’53” behind Wiggins, and Froome is looking very strong in third, with a 2’07” deficit. Nibali and Menchov round out the top five. The peloton is now down to 177 riders, with 20 having withdrawn as a result of injury and one having been arrested. Ah, yes, the magic of le Tour. As The Inner Ring tweeted:
Kudos to the French police who found Rémi di Gregorio because nobody watching the race has seen him.
Onto the vaches!