Following a relatively calm opener of almost 30 kilometres the Cormet de Roselend offers 18.6 kilometres of climbing at 6%. Back in the valley another long uphill takes the shape of the Col de Saisies. This one is 15 kilometres long and the average gradient sits at 5.1%.
These two are the longest ascents of the day and they are done midway through the race. Yet, climbing is far from over.
In fact there are two tough uphill tests ahead. The Col des Aravis is 6.7 kilometres long and slopes at 7% before the riders plunge down a 20 kilometres descent to what could become the decisive ascent in the 2020 Tour de France. If one thing, the Montée du plateau des Glières does posses the raw materials.
The Plateau des Glières climbs for 6 kilometres at 11.2% and never drops below 10%. After reaching the limestone plateau the route continues on 2 kilometres of false flat gravel roads. Two years ago Froome punctured on this stretch. It happened without consequences, as it was still a long way to the finish line.
This time the Montée du plateau des Glières is only 20 kilometres away from the finish. This is mostly on descent – with the exception of the Col des Fleuries, which is a 5.5 kilometres climb at 4.6% that the riders crest with 10 kilometres out, before flying further down to the line in La Roche-sur-Foron.
The battle for yellow is likely to ignite on the flanks of Montée du plateau des Glières, although riders with limited time trialing skills may opt to strike earlier with an all-or-nothing attack. Think Mikel Landa and/or Adam Yates. After all, it is their only option. After this race from Méribel to La Roche-sur-Foron the Tour de France serves two more flat stages and a time trial to La Planche des Belles Filles.
Given the downhill finale fast descenders such as Alaphilippe and Schachmann could give it a shot when they are still in the mix after the plateau des Glières.
Favourites 18th stage 2020 Tour de France
*** Pavel Sivakov, Lennard Kämna, Maximilian Schachmann, Julian Alaphilippe
** Mikel Landa, Adam Yates, Miguel Ángel López, Richard Carapaz
* Tadej Pogacar, Primoz Roglic, Tom Dumoulin, Daniel Felipe Martínez
Take a look at the route of the 18th stage on the Tour de France.