Once the flag is dropped, it goes uphill. Aiming for the Col du Chaussy, at an elevation of 1,533 metres, riders are on the slopes for 15.4 kilometres. It is a fairly regular climb with one kilometer on the descend – the fourth.
After a calm intermezzo riders arrive are at the foot of the Col de la Croix de Fer. This is the moment the climbing party really begins. The ‘Pass of the Iron Cross’ honours its name. Firstly, on top is an iron cross. Secondly, in their time riders like Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi and Bernard Hinault were the first to crest this col. Thirdly, in 22.4 kilometres the road goes up by an average grade of 6.9%. Fourth, halfway is a steepest section of 10% lasting three kilometres.
The descent is shorter than the climb and once in the valley, the Col du Mollard is the next obstacle – a 5.7 kilometres climb at 6.8%
Once crested it’s back down to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. Once again there is no time to fool around since the La Toussuire climb demands attention. The 18 kilometres toil at 6.1% opens with the steepest part when the road goes up at a 10% grade for two kilometres. Nearing the top it all flattens out with grades of 4.5% and 4% in the last two kilometres.
From the Col de la Croix de Fer onwards, stage 19 is a constant struggle with roads going either up or down. Pierre Rolland loves this territory. He won stage 11 in the 2012 Tour and from the Col de la Croix de Fer onwards today’s route is an exact copy of that one. Finishing second back then, Thibaut Pinot made the French party complete.
Race results/stage report stage 19, Tour de France 2015
Tour de France 2015 stage 19: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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