– It has been a fantastic
Tour de France so far and stage 20 looks set to
be somewhat of an encore to what’s been a brutal race. The GC battle has been hotly contested over the last three weeks,
but whether or not stage 20 proves to be decisive for
the overall classification is actually irrelevant. Nobody can start to think
about the processional ride into Paris until they cross
the finish line in Val Thorens. (upbeat music) 130 kilometers, over
three mountain passes, and nearly 5,000 meters of climbing. No matter how you look at it, stage 20 is going to be an epic. (upbeat music) The stage hasn’t actually even started yet and already we’re going uphill. On stage 20 on tired
legs, this is not going to be the most enjoyable neutralize zone. Got a kilometer to go to the start and I’m pretty sure it’s all uphill. Here we are, according
to the commute route that I made and put on my
Wahoo, this is the start of stage 20 of the Tour de France. 131 kilometers, three mountain passes, and just under 5,000 meters of climbing. It’s going to be a tough one. (upbeat music) Albertville is a more frequent stage host at the Tour de France than
Val Thorens, the stage finish, although this will only be
its fifth ever stage start and all of those have been since 1998, so it is quite a recent addition. (upbeat music) Right, the valley road is over. That was 18 kilometers
of gentle ups and downs. On the whole, it was pretty fast though. Certainly having a tail
wind did help a little bit. The surfaces were changeable,
quite a bit of new tarmac actually in different places
which made it quite a nice road to start the day on. That’s all changed now
though, as we’re now on the lowest slopes of
the Cormet de Roselend which rises to 1,968 meters
over the next 19 kilometers and it really saps your speed. At this stage of the climb,
I should be getting worried because my legs hurt, I’m suffering, and it says there’s still
13 kilometers remaining, but, luckily, four kilometers
of that, I’m pretty much pan flat at the top. I mean pan flat, as close to that as you get in a mountain range. I only have 700 meters of
elevation left to gain, which actually isn’t too bad. Cormet de Roselend is a climb of two parts and, as you may be able to
tell, I’ve made it to the top of part one which is
1,605 meters to the summit of Col du Meraillet, or however
the locals pronounce it. The average gradient for
the entire climb is only 6% which isn’t steep, but
you do have to factor in that the next section
actually drops down a little bit, so the ramps are in fact
quite a bit steeper than 6%. (upbeat music) A climb of two parts. The main climb is the Col du Meraillet, but there is a continuation
after this all-category climb of a farther four kilometers
to the Cormet de Roselend. Used nine times in the history of le tour, this summit is reached after
20 kilometers of uphill. It is by no means easy, having
already climbed 1,247 meters in one hit. While it’s not overly
well known as a climb, there is a famous picture
from 1996 of Johan Bruyneel crashing into a ravine on the descent. That day was also famous for
being the day Miguel Indurain would finally crack off attempting to win a sixth Tour de France. (upbeat music) Right, that’s climb number one. Cormet de Roselend out of the way. 1,968 meters, climbing just
over 1,200 meters in one hit. Yes, there are a couple
of gentle plateaus, but if you’re in the
grupetto that just means you’re going to have to try
even harder to catch back up. We’ve got a long descent
now to the cat two climb, which is the second climb of the day. If you’re in the grupetto,
this just means you’re going to be chasing really, really hard,
and if you’re at the front of the race, you’re going
to be trying equally hard to make sure the difference you’ve made on climb number one is sustained. (upbeat music) We’re coming to a slightly
more technical section here, but further on the mountain,
it was open, it was fast, the surface was good. I would not be at all surprised
if we don’t hear riders doing excess of 120 kilometers an hour. (upbeat music) The second climb of today’s
stage, Côte de Longefoy, and it was 6.6 kilometers and 6.5% which doesn’t sound that bad,
but that is a little deceiving as the ramps in between the
false flats are actually really quite hard, and when you consider there’s a headwind today, it
made it a really tough climb. The only good thing though,
it’s at a really nice surface which actually made it quite
easy to find a nice rhythm and ride up the front. There’s now 50 kilometers
to go, but 33 of those do indeed go uphill. (upbeat music) Now, the previous descent
was absolutely amazing. It was technical, it was
fast, open at the top, and then tighter at the
bottom, and this one is far more engaging and
you cannot take your eye off the ball for a single second. The road is constantly changing
camber, changing direction, changing gradient, but more than that, the surface is constantly changing. We’ve had two bits which
have been immaculate, smooth tarmac, but on the whole,
we’ve actually got cracked and creased asphalt with lots
of gravel, lots of debris, and it makes it for quite the tricky ride. (upbeat music) Val Thorens is the final
climb in this year’s Tour de France, a record-breaking
30th mountain summit too, and it could prove decisive
to the overall outcome of the event. 33 kilometers at 5.5%,
although when you do discount the slight descents low down the mountain, the average gradient is
then in fact near a 7%. Oh, and if you like
trivia, Val Thorens happens to be the highest ski resort
in Europe at 2,365 meters, but before I can show you that, I still have to ride up the mountain. (upbeat music) After three weeks of racing,
200 riders have been competing for 21 stages. This is the last realistic
chance for a select few to take their victory,
a tall order indeed. Is it conceivable that
a break could stay away to the finish? I don’t think so, instead
will we see a final challenge for the overall title take place? I think it’s more likely. And here we are, the final
meters of the final climb in the 2019 Tour de France, just above the highest
ski resort in Europe. Val Thorens, at 2,635 meters,
will it prove to be decisive? We won’t find out until on the day, but one thing is for
sure, it is an epic finale to what will have been an epic bike race. (upbeat music) That final kilometer, at just
over 9%, was a real stink in the tail, and I’m not going
to lie, I didn’t appreciate it. Val Thorens has only once before featured in the Tour de France
and that was back in 1994 when Columbian Nelson
Rodriguez was the victor. Will we see a 100% Columbia
record on this climb? I think we might. Let us know your stage predictions down in the comments below and
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