The race will reach the foothills of the Alps today after the 201 kilometre stage from Bourg-de-Péage to Gap. Although, it’s considered a transition stage, it could be tricky enough and GC riders will have to be vigilant.
The main danger is the final climb of the day, the Category 2 Col de Manse. It’s not so much the climb itself that will be difficult but the descent down to Gap. It was on this descent back in 2003 where Joseba Beloki famously came a cropper. His bike locked up on the melting road surface and he crashed heavily, breaking his leg. Lance Armstrong had to take evasive action, riding cross country through a field and rejoining the race after jumping across a ditch. Beloki never really recovered from the crash.
More recently, Alberto Contador put Andy Schleck in some trouble in the 2011 race and Schleck lost a minute to his Spanish rival. Schleck later criticised the inclusion of such a dangerous descent in the race.
This could be a stage that will see success for a breakaway. There are going to be a lot of tired legs, and Team Sky may not be interested in making a concerted effort in chasing down a break. Also, the teams of the sprinters will also be uninterested as the likes of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) will struggle with the final climb. There might not be much change to GC today, but that won’t stop somebody trying to give it a go on the final climb.