Stage 12 - July 13: Carpentras - Mont Ventoux, 149 km
Start time: 11:57
Le Mont Ventoux means the windy mountain in French; so beware! The big bad wolf of Le Mont Ventoux awaits Le Tour on Thursday and the strong mistral wind of Provence is gonna' blow.
It's a short but intense stage with a mountaintop finish atop the extinct volcano, nicknamed Le Geant de Provence for the way it dominates the local landscape. Expect Kelme to go on the attack again early, to go for the stage win. Le Mont Ventoux is classified as a 21km climb with an average grade of 7.6%, but in reality the first 4km are only 3%. Then, at the famous sharp lefthand hairpin "virage di St.Esteve" with 17km to go, the road gradient increases to over 9% and heads into the rocky, forested slopes of Le Ventoux until the road emerges from the woods at Chalet Reynard. After St. Esteve is the steepest part of Le Ventoux where GC leaders like Maillot Jaune Armstrong, Telekom's Ullrich and Festina's Moreau will be eyeballing each other, awaiting the inevitable attacks from climbers like Virenque, Pantani and Escartin.
At Chalet Reynard with 6.5km to go, Le Ventoux becomes lunar in appearance, strewn with with a bright white limestone scree, utterly denuded of vegetation. This part is less steep than the forested part (6%), but the riders will undoubtedly face extreme conditions; cool temperatures (6 degrees celcius), excacerbated by a strong mistral. In fact, tommorrow's forecast from Le Provence, the local newspaper calls for a sunny morning, with clouds appearing in the afternoon, and a possible storm front by late afternoon. Winds over 40km/hr, are forecast, with higher gusts up to 60km/hr near the 1909m summit of Le Mont Ventoux. If a storm does come in and rain and sleet hit the peloton as it did on Tuesday's L'Etape du Tour, it will certainly decimate the already exhausted riders.
Km 41.5 - Col de Murs
- 10.3 km at 4.4% (Cat. 2)
Profile © Société du Tour de France