This is an unusual mountain stage, with the longer climbs at the start, and two shorter uphills near the end. The Col d’Izoard is one of the Tour’s mythical climbs, but much of the peloton will regroup in the 64km before the next hill. The long, steep Izoard descent, followed by a snaking road down a canyon, gives an opportunity for a breakaway to establish itself. A beautifulroad alongside (and across) the Serre-Ponçon lake — the largest reservoir in Europe — precedes the last two uphills: St. Appolinaire (28.5km from the finish) and La Rochette (8km from the line). They are long enough (6.7km and 3.9km, respectively) and steep enough (with 7.4- and 6.7-percent grades) to prevent a group finish in Gap.
7/14/2003 Start Time: 11:48:00am
7/14/2003 Estimated Finish Time: 5:23:00pm
Although Gap has seen 18 stage finishes in the Tour, this is the first time it has been preceded by a climb over the mighty Izoard. The last finish here was in 1996, when Erik Zabel was the only sprinter to make it over the little Col de la Sentinelle (lower than the last two hills this year) in a lead group of about 30.