At 178 kilometres, stage 18 in the Tour de France leaves from Briançon to travel to the summit of the Izoard Pass. The last mountain stage in this year's Grande Boucle is played out on rolling roads at an altitude around 1,000 metres before the two long climbs loom in the last 70 kilometres.
It is the 34th appearance of the Col d’Izoard in the Tour de France, yet it is the first time the finish line is drawn at the top. No photo finish, that’s for sure – the riders will come strumbling across the line.
The last mountain stage in the 2017 Tour de France leaves at an elevation of 1,170 metres from Briançon, the highest city in France. After around 50 kilometres in the saddle the riders stumble across the Côte des Demoiselles Coiffées. A trifle with a mesmerizing name as it means Mountain of the Capped Young Ladies.
Col de Vars is no trifle at all. Starting in Jausiers it’s a 21.5 kilometres climb that is getting steeper along the way. With sections between 2% and 3%, the first half is merely a false flat before the going gets tough(er) from kilometre 13 onwards. Closer to the top the party really gets going with 2 kilometres of 10 to 11%.
After the drop to Guillestre the last climb of the Tour de France appears. The route on the Col d’Izoard travels in 32.7 kilometres to an elevation of 2,360 metres. The average of the whole climb is 4.2%,but this is just half the story. Quite literally so. Modest gradients until halfway up the Izoard, but then Château Ville Vieille intitiates the hard work with steep ramps and switchbacks. The last 10 kilometres – at 9% – lead to the forbidding and barren slopes of Casse Déserte. A perfect and dramatic backdrop for the last summit finish in the 2017 Tour de France.
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses at 10, 6 and 4 seconds.