July 10, 2005
Course: With four Cat. 3s, a Cat. 2 and this Tour’s first Cat.1 climb (the 9km, 7-percent Ballon d’Alsace) through the Vosges, the climberswill finally get some terrain to their liking. But on completing the lastdownhill from the Ballon, there are still 43km to ride in the valley beforereaching the finish in Mulhouse.
History: This is the 100th anniversary of the Ballon d’Alsacebecoming the first major climb included in the Tour. The last time a climbingstage through the Vosges ended in Mulhouse was in 1992, when a soon-to-retireLaurent Fignon broke clear on the Grand Ballon climb to score a solo stagewin. Mulhouse is where Armstrong took his only stage win (in a time trialfrom Freiburg) in the 2000 Tour.
Favorites: With a rest day following this stage, expect plentyof action. All the favorites will want to be in the (small?) front groupthat emerges from the mountains, but an early breakaway with the likesof Jens Voigt, Michael Boogerd or David Etxebarria could well succeed.