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Tour de France

Getting the shot: Julian Alaphilippe and Primož Roglič during stage 4 of the Tour de France

James Startt scouts the best spot to shoot the maillot jaune on the historic Tour de France climb to Orcières Merlette.

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Ever since the 2020 Tour de France presentation last year, I have been looking forward to stage four of this year’s race which climbed to Orcières-Merlette.

No it is not an epic climb, but it was home to one of the Tour’s epic stages when Luis Ocaña soloed to a historic victory eight minutes in front of a certain Eddy Merckx back 1971. In some ways the climb itself was anticlimactic. After all, there were only a sprinkling of fans and the roads were lined with visually unappealing barriers for the last two kilometers.

But just before the three-kilometer mark, I looked down on a large sweeping turn. “Drop me off here Andy!” I told my traveling companion, Andrew Hood.

As I approached the turn itself, I struggled to find a convincing angle. But I was attracted to the rock face on the adjacent mountain. That was going to be my shot. The stage was set. And all I had to do was wait for the Tour’s main actors to arrive. And man were they going fast!