|Stage Guide||The Bike|
Today's stage is probably one of the toughest of the Tour. It is not the longest but the difficult climbs make up for that.
Mentally, the start will be tough. With the road ascending from kilometre zero and not reaching the first summit until 33 km later, riders know their place from the word go.
Some riders will suffer more than others at the start but the true climbers will comfortably hold their place in the early stages.
Because there are three major mountains to climb, including a 17km haul up to the finish, the peloton (main pack) may choose to ride at a steady tempo up the first mountain, the Col du Galibier.
Sometimes it is best not to think about what lies ahead and just get on with the job at hand.
The legs know what to do and a rider will find his own tempo, aiming to keep the heart rate at a reasonable level to conserve some energy for the mountains to come.
But, even if ridden at a steady pace, this climb will be tough.
Rising to an altitude of more than 2,500 metres, it is a monster of a mountain.
Everyone will be feeling the pinch at the top, some more than others.
After a descent of about 18km there will be a short 4.8km climb to the top of the Col du Telegraphe.
This is where the legs will really feel the lactic acid build up.
After descending for almost 20km, the legs almost fall asleep, and when they suddenly have to go back to work it can really hurt.
Most riders will fight just to stay behind the wheel in front of them for the first kilometre or so.
A chance for lunch
The brave will be attacking hard, trying to take advantage of this short climb to pile pressure on their rivals.
This will also set the scene for the remaining two climbs.
With about 35km of gradual descent, it will be a chance for riders to refuel with food and drink.
For a "quick fix" of energy riders will generally consume snacks that have a high sugar content.
For an extra boost they might drink carbonated drinks containing caffeine.
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