Mont Ventoux is one of the most famous and gruelling Tour de France climbs and this peloton will experience it like never before after race director delivered on a long-term aim to include two climbs of Ventoux back-to-back.
It means stage 11 will be something of a brute. It is 199km in length, starting in Sorgues and cresting the category one Col de la Liguiere before the Ventoux hoves into view.
The first climb is the easier of the two ascents, coming from Sault, but it is still a 22km drag at a 5.1 per cent average gradient, enough to tire out even the best climbing legs, before the classic Ventoux climb from Bedoin – 15.7km to the summit at an 8.8 per cent gradient. This particular climb is cruel in the sense that it gradually eases over the first 17km before kicking up sharply as you near the summit, topping 10 per cent in the final kilometre.
These will be the 16th and 17th ascents of Mont Ventoux since its first appearance in the Tour de France in 1951, but this will be the first time the stage has culminated in Malaucene. The descent to the finish will be rapid and it will take a bold and skilful bike handler to win the day, skills which must be combined with an exceptional climbing engine.
Ventoux is nicknamed the Beast of Provence for obvious reasons, and it is also sometimes called the Bald Mountain for its pale and sparse lunar landscape near the summit. With heavy legs and a delirious mind, it can feel like a surreal place to be. For sprinters like Mark Cavendish, this will be a day focused only on reaching the other side and waiting for better opportunities down the road.
The mountain is also etched in cycling history as the place where British rider Tom Simpson died, aged 29, in 1967, suffering heart failure on the climb. The peloton will pass a memorial to Simpson on their ascent.
Route map and profile
Stage 11 route map
Stage 11 profile
A day for a talented climber. Tadej Pogacar could win it if he really wants to, and the prestige of an iconic stage like this may play a part in his thinking, but it is a fast descent to the finish and he may consider that it is more sensible to protect his overall lead than risk trying to extend it here. Miguel Angel Lopez is a real candidate to win, given he won the Ventoux challenge in June setting the fastest time on the ascent since 2004.
The stage is set to begin at 11.15am BST and is expected to conclude at around 5.30pm BST.
How to watch on TV
In the UK, the stage will be shown live on Eurosport from 10.40am and live on ITV from midday.
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