La Planche des Belles Filles, stage ten
The Vosges mountains, a range in eastern France near its border with France, have taken on a more important role in recent Tours and the climb of La Planche des Belles Filles has featured twice: first in 2012 before returning on stage ten of this year’s race.
It’s a climb typical of the Vosges; relatively short at 5.9km but with an average gradient of 8.3 per cent, regular ramps which are even steeper, and a final leg-stinging pitch, extended especially for the Tour, which touches 20 per cent.
Chris Froome won on the climb on stage seven of the 2012 race, with his team-mate, Bradley Wiggins, finishing third, two seconds behind Froome, to assume the yellow jersey – which the Londoner would keep all the way to Paris to become the first Briton to win the race. This time out, in 2014, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) triumphed to regain the race lead – will the Italian still be in yellow come Paris?
The Vosges mountains may lack the mystique of the Alps or Pyrenees but the region offers a host medium mountain cols – including the Col du Firstplan (722m), Col du Platzerwasel (1,193 m) and Col des Chevrères (914 m), all of which also featured on stage ten – and quiet roads.
Average gradient: 8.5 per cent
Maximum gradient: 20 per cent