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Course: Mountain stages don’t get much tougher than this one, with 12,600 feet of climbing in 173km. Pitching out of a deep, wooded valley to a high alpine meadows, the Madeleine softens up the field with 25.4km of uphill work. The 12km Télégraphe rears up the steep side of a ravine in tight switchbacks. And the 17.5km Galibier reserves its toughest stretch for the 5km preceding its bleak peak. The closing 40km descent is too fast to allow for much regrouping.
History: The last time a Tour stage crossed the Galibier from its tougher northern approach and ended in Briançon or a nearby town was in 1993. That year, the Galibier produced a break by the four men who eventually finished in the top four spots in Paris: Miguel Induráin, Tony Rominger, Zenon Jaskula and Alvaro Mejia.
Favorites: Only the top yellow-jersey contenders will be left together on the Galibier. In alphabetic order, they should be Armstrong, Basso, Heras, Mayo and Ullrich. Also in the mix could be Azevedo, Botero, Evans, Julich, Klöden, Landis, Leipheimer, Mancebo, McGee, Pereiro, Popovych, Sastre, Totschnig, Valverde and Vinokourov.