Stage 11: Albertville to Col du Granon
Anyone who envisions winning this Tour must have their A-game for this brutal stage in the Alps.
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Incredibly hard mountain stage
Anyone who envisions winning this Tour must have their A-game for this brutal stage in the Alps. For starters, after 50 kilometers on valley roads, the peloton faces the spectacular 3.4-kilometer climb to Montvernier that features 17 tight hairpins scaling an almost vertical mountainside with double-digit grades. Next on the menu is the serpent-like Col du Télégraphe that climbs for almost 12 kilometers at 7 percent, immediately followed by the Tour’s highest peak, the 17.7-kilometer Galibier, which is at its 13-percent steepest just before the 2,642-meter (8,668-foot) summit.
Most stages that cross the Galibier in this direction end with a 30-kilometer downhill to Briançon. Not this one. Just before reaching the highest city in France, the course turns sharp left to tackle this year’s toughest climb. The Col de Granon ascends for 11.3 kilometers at a mean 9-percent grade with a middle section in the double digits and the steepest pitch of 18 percent.
The narrow road is rough and grippy, takes in a dozen tight turns and tops out at 2,413 meters (almost 8,000 feet) above sea level. In the only other stage to finish up here, in 1986, race leader Bernard Hinault lost his yellow jersey to La Vie Claire teammate Greg LeMond—the first U.S. rider to earn it—after the American responded to an attack on the Izoard descent before Briançon by their nearest challenger, Swiss national champion Urs Zimmermann. Hinault conceded more than three minutes and fell to third place, behind LeMond and Zimmermann.