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A Legendary Stage
As with the Tour 36 years ago, the Granon stage is followed by an enormous day in the mountains between Briançon and L’Alpe d’Huez. It takes in the Galibier, Télégraphe and Croix de Fer climbs on the way to the Tour’s most famous uphill finish, resulting in the stage with the highest vertical gain: 4,750 meters (15,584 feet). Ironically, in 1986, the most decisive action happened on a downhill—specifically, down the Télégraphe, when Hinault attacked to join a small breakaway that contained La Vie Claire teammate Steve Bauer, while LeMond then dropped Zimmermann with a sensational descent to join his two teammates.
Bauer made a huge effort in the valley to distance the Swiss rider, while Hinault took over the pacemaking on the Croix-de-Fer that only LeMond could follow. The two of them arrived atop the Alpe five minutes clear of third-place Zimmerman, with LeMond symbolically raising Hinault’s arm in triumph across the finish line.
This year, we can expect some casualties in the overall standings, while the French fans will be cheering for a home stage victory on their national holiday of Bastille Day—perhaps one for Romain Bardet or Thibaut Pinot. If not, then the 21 turns of L’Alpe d’Huez will likely see a showdown between the top GC contenders Pogačar, Roglič, Vingegaard, Vlasov and Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers).