Departure place Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux hosted the Tour de France in 2012 for a stage to Cap d’Agde, where André Greipel outsprinted Peter Sagan and Thor Hushovd. A bunch sprint seems highly unlikely at the end of today’s route to Mende. There is not much to gain for the GC guys, while the punchy finale is way too tough for fast finishers.
The first uphill stretches appear at kilometre 10, but it’s basically a warm-up to the second half of the race. The Côte du Grand Châtaignier is a 1 kilometre hill with an average gradient of 7.4%, with its peak at kilometre 81. We are still in the build-up of the race.
Following the drop the route rises gradually to the foot of the Col de la Croix de Berthel, which is reached at kilometre 120. The 9.1 kilometres climb is averaging at 5.3% before a 13 kilometres descent flies down to the Col du Pont Sans Eau, a 3.3 kilometres KOM climb at 6.3% with in its trail an non-categorised 5.8 kilometres slope at 4%. The summit is crested with 34 kilometres to go.
Firstly, a 20 kilometres drop before 10 kilometres on the flat usher in the finale. The Col de la Croix Neuve is a 3 kilometres climb at 10.2% with steepest ramps of up to 18%. After the top a descent of 1 kilometre leads to an even run-in to the line of 500 metres. The arrival is at the landing strip of Mende Airport.
The French call the punchy last ascent Montée Laurent Jalabert, since their hero claimed the stage on Bastille Day 1995. The last winner in Mende is Stephen Cummings, who outsmarted Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet in 2015.
The first three riders on the line win time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds. The intermediate sprint (at kilometre 90) does not come with a time bonus, it’s a sprint for green jersey points.
Read also: results/race report 14th stage 2018 Tour de France.
Tour de France 2018 stage 14: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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St.-Paul-Trois-Chateaux and Mende at Google maps