Tuesday, July 17, 7:35 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. ET
With stage 10, ASO is bringing professional cycling back toward its roots — and onto dirt. The route will tackle the kind of unsurfaced road that the peloton would have raced on in pre-war times. The last time the Tour faced a mountain road of this type was in 1987, during stage 20 between Villard-de-Lans and Alpe d’Huez. Frenchman Denis Roux led over the Col du Coq, where the final 300 meters were unpaved.
This year, the Plateau de Glières climb will follow the Col de la Croix Fry. Coming the day after the first rest day, the tough six-kilometer ascent, averaging 11 percent, will bring some surprises, especially the unsurfaced section that extends for 1.8 kilometers beyond the summit.
“Team leaders will have to have lots of support around them in case of punctures,” warns route director Thierry Gouvenou.
The section across the Plateau de Glières, which lies at 1,390 meters above sea level, comes 68.5 kilometers into stage 10. Since the stage is 159 kilometers in total, the unsurfaced section isn’t likely to have a decisive impact on the general classification. Certainly, it should have far less impact than the passes that follow it, the Romme and the Colombière, which are more obvious tests before the riders plummet into Le Grand-Bornand. This sequence of climbs, which has only featured on one occasion in previous Tour history, produced a huge spectacle in 2009, when Fränk Schleck claimed the stage.
The impetus for the introduction of Plateau des Glières to the Tour route is, however, not only driven by sporting considerations. “We are going there with a focus on history as much as sport and aesthetics,” says Tour director Christian Prudhomme. In March 1944, 463 Resistance fighters took refuge on the Plateau de Glières, in the heart of Haute-Savoie’s Bornes massif. Surrounded by 5,000 German soldiers and members of the Vichy militia, 121 were killed. It has been the site of the National Monument to the Resistance since 2003. Today a monumental sculpture resides at the spot — 15 meters high and 21 meters wide, it depicts the sun resting in a hand.
Check back after the race.