Tour de France 2024 Favourites stage 11: Brutal onslaught in Massif Central

Ben Healy - Tour de France 2024 Favourites stage 11: Brutal onslaught in the hillsfoto: Cor VosThere are no long climbs in the 11th stage of the Tour de France, but it’s a hellish ride nevertheless, as the road goes either up or down the entire day. The elevation gain adds up to an intimidating 4,350 metres. On paper, one could argue that it's a chance for breakaway specialists, but is it really? (Slideshow route/profile)

The climbs may not be long, but there are loads of them. According to the road book, there are six, but that doesn’t mean much because there are plenty more sections you could easily count as KOMs. It’s just like in classics like Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Lombardy. If you only look at the official climbs, it doesn’t seem too bad. But that is not the whole story. It’s the sneaky gradients in between.

Just as in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the opening phase is relatively easy. The first 78 kilometres are rolling, then the Côte Mouiloux serves up the first KOM: 1.9 kilometres at 6.3%. Not long after, the Côte de Larodde adds another 3.8 kilometres at 6%. It’s a drumroll for what’s to come.

There’s another rolling phase, and after 125 kilometres, the uphill towards Le Vigean throws in 4.1 kilometres at 5% . This is one of those non-KOMs. At the same time, the uphill signals that the climbing is going to get more intense. Shortly after moving through Le Vigean, the riders descend to a false flat that climbs for over 15 kilometres to around 1,000 metres. Then, with 47 kilometres to go, the real climbing party kicks off and doesn’t let up.

First, it’s 3.9 kilometres at 8.6% up the Col de Néronne. There’s no descent, and soon the Pas de Peyrol awaits, another 4.4 kilometres climb at 7.9%. Right after descending, the riders hit the Col du Perthus, a 4.4 kilometres climb at 7.9%. For GC contenders, the time bonuses of 8, 5, and 2 seconds at the top might be interesting if they get the chance.

After the Perthus, there are 14.6 kilometres left. It starts with a 5.5 kilometres descent, and then the Col de Font de Cère offers the last official climb: 3.3 kilometres at 5.8%.

The Col de Font de Cère peaks 3 kilometres from the finish. That’s a descent to the final kilometre, which slopes upwards. The first half is more of a false flat, but the second half climbs at about 6%. Could be an interesting little sprint…

But will we get a sprint? In 2016, Van Avermaet soloed to the stage win and yellow jersey from a breakaway in the same finale.

The most likely scenario is that the race pans out into a day for the breakaway. After all, the climbs aren’t excessively tough in themselves, and GC contenders will have a hard time dropping each other on those slopes, so there’s not much time to be gained. On the other hand, Pogacar, Evenepoel, and Roglic excel on this kind of terrain; and they may have the legs of GC contenders, especially Pogacar and Evenepoel have the spirit of an attacker. And 8 bonus seconds on the Perthus and 10 at the finish, why not take these when you’re there?

Favourites 11th stage 2024 Tour de France

*** Richard Carapaz, Pello Bilbao, Alexey Lutsenko, Ben Healy
** Remco Evenepoel, Tadej Pogacar, Primoz Roglic, Giulio Ciccone, Romain Bardet
* Neilson Powless, Wout Poels, Derek Gee, Matej Mohoric, Tom Pidcock, Simon Yates

Another interesting read: route 11th stage 2024 Tour de France.

Tour de France 2024 stage 11: route, profile, video

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