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2014 Tour de France: Chapter 3 – Vosges and l’Alps

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After last year’s “Double d’Huez” stage the 2014 Tour avoids most of the famous Alpine climbs in favor of some rarely visited mountain passes. Stage eight should be another to suit the Ardennes specialists, with its short, sharp climb to the finish on La Mauselaine, in Gerardmer, and could catch out a yellow jersey hopeful or two. The stage 10 finish to La Planche des Belles Filles will likely be the first major rendezvous between the big general classification favorites thought, with the steep, first category climb featuring as a stage finish for only the second time.

Ben Atkins/Yuzuru Sunada

La Planche was where Chris Froome took his first ever stage victory, in 2012, with teammate Bradley Wiggins taking the yellow jersey he would hold all the way to Paris, becoming the first ever British Tour winner. All eyes will be on defending champion Froome as he stakes claim on a defense of his Tour crown, while his rivals will seek to unseat the Brit.

Moving south into the Alps proper, there will be two further summit finishes, at Chamrousse and Risoul. The long climb to Chamrousse has only been used once before, in a mountain TT in the 2001 race, while this will be the Tour’s frist ever visit to Risoul. Both climbs should see a settling of the top of the general classification, while the Cols of the Lautaret and Izoard coming on the road to Risoul – where Chris Froome clinched overall victory in last year’s Criterium du Dauphine – will produce arguably the toughest day on this year’s race.

Read Chapter 1 or Chapter 2 of our Tour preview and look for Chapter 4, Transition, tomorrow.

For much more on the 2014 Tour pick up a free digital copy of the July Cannondale Gazette.

For a detailed look at the first week of the Tour, stage by stage, read part three of John Wilcockson’s Countdown to the Tour.