Tour de France 2014 route stage 10: Mulhouse > La Planche des Belles Filles
Today’s stage starts where the last one ended in the old industrial city of Mulhouse. On account of the flourishing textile industry it was once nicknamed the ‘Manchester of France’, although The Smiths could never have written their gloomy anthems in Mulhouse as it’s a very colourful tourist town with beautiful buildings, such as the town hall, and museums like the Cité de l’Automobile.
The bunch will have other priorities. The big men have just one goal – that of finishing within the time limit in the grupetto – while the climbers sense opportunities for a stage win.
It is July 14th remember so don’t be surprised to see a Riblon or Voeckler trying to get away to steal the stage. It’s been a while since the home nation could celebrate on Bastille day with the last three victories courtesy of David Moncoutié (2005), Richard Virenque (2004) and Laurent Jalabert (2001).
Col du Firstplan
The day’s first summit is in the first 30 kilometres of racing, aptly named the Col du Firstplan. The 8 kilometre climb featured just three times before in the Tour. In 1969, Joaquim Agostinho was the first to reach the top, in 1971 Joop Zoetemelk grabbed the mountain points and in 2009 Heinrich Haussler did the same thing.
Approximately 25 kilometers further down the road to the next mountain, the Petit Ballon. With an average gradient of 8.1% over 9.3 kilometres, this one is a lot steeper than the Firstplan. After the descent it’s directly uphill again on the Col du Platzerwasel, 7.1 kilometres at 8.4%. Sylvain Chavanel was first to the top here in 2009.
Just like the Col du Platzerwasel the name of the next mountain indicates the territory we’re passing through today used to be a battle-ground for France and Germany. The land changed hands over tome and this is reflected in the name Col d’Oderen. It is 6.7 kilometres long and with an average gradient of 6.1% is not the toughest climb of the day. The same holds true for the following Col des Chevrères which is just 3.5 kilometres at 9.5%.
The riders have now raced 144 yough kilometres.
La Planche des Belles Filles
The finale climb is to La Planche des Belles Filles. From the hamlet of Plancher-les-Mines the road kicks up and the climb begins. According to legend, in 1635, the same road led a group of young women away from their aggressors, a bunch of Nordic mercenaries. Rather than face being abused or murdered, they chose to jump from a high cliff into one of the mountain lakes and drowned.
Back to the Tour, the riders will look to more recent history to work out their tactics today. The only time a stage finished here was just 2 years ago when Sky set a ferocious pace at the base of the climb, leading Chris Froome to the stage win and Bradley Wiggins to the yellow jersey. The ascent is 6 kilometres and has steepest parts of up to 14% (just approaching the summit) – with the average gradient at 8.5%
You can’t win the Tour at La Planche des Filles, but it will be clear who won’t win it.
Tour de France 2014 stage 10: Images and more!
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Petit Ballon at strava.com
La Planche des belles Filles at bikemap.net
La Planche des Belles Filles at strava.com