Grenoble to Risoul (177km)
Saturday, July 19th 6:10 a.m. – 11:05 a.m. EDT
The first stage in the high Alps includes more than 65km of climbing, including the final 12.6km slope up to Risoul at an average gradient of 6.9 percent. The first climb is not tough, at an average of 3.9 percent, but it grinds on for 34km. The real damage may be done in the middle climb, the Izoard, which at 19km and six percent will test the contenders’ legs. Further contributing to fatigue, the previous day sees a mountain top finish at the end of a grueling 18.2km, 7.3 percent climb, and if anyone is tired or struggling after that, then it is the 14th stage that could see them lose serious time. If Nibali continues his dominant performance, his rivals will definitely have to find places where they can unsettle him; they may need to work together to crack the leader.