Course: The opening 60km of this longest stage so far (231.5km)passes through the beautiful Black Forest — Ullrich’s longtime traininggrounds. Any damage done on the four Cat. 3 climbs will be rectified bythe following 120km down and across the Rhine Valley. All the action shouldtake place on this Tour’s first Cat. 2 climb, the 16.8km-long Col de laSchlucht, which tops out at an elevation of 3736 feet just 15km from thefinish.History: A Tour stage has never started or finished in Gérardmer,a tourist town of fewer than 10,000 people set on a scenic lake deep inthe pine forests of the Vosges mountains. The last time the race crossedthe Col de la Schlucht, in 1992, the King of the Mountains winner was ItalianFabio Roscioli.Favorites: The Schlucht is not particularly steep (4.4 percent),but its length and proximity to the finish could see young stars VladimirKarpets or Alejandro Valverde shooting for their first-ever Tour stagewin. Also in contention could be strong finishers like McGee, Juan AntonioFlecha, Filippo Pozzato or Vinokourov.