Another day of stunning scenery. From the start at Val-d’Isère the riders immediately undertook the highest climb on this year’s tour at the Col de l’Iseran (2,770m) descending to Bonneville sur Arc. After this there was a long stretch of race which took place alongside the River Arc in its narrow bottomed v-shaped valley, weaving together and fighting for space with the railway, the autoroute and the main road: the impact of man bringing rather a lot of concrete sadly spoiling the beauty of the location. Just before Modane we saw views of the Forts de l’Esseillon perched on Mont Cenis close to the route and above the climb to Col du Télégraphe. Just after St Martin d’Arc the race turned away from the river to tackle the other two climbs of the race, the Col du Télégraphe and the Col du Galibier. The race finish was at Briançon (pictured),
the highest town in Western Europe after Davos in Switzerland. The medieval town boasts a wonderful architectural heritage, including architecture by Vauban. The tricentennial of the death of Vauban will be celebrated in 2007.
The stage was won by race debutant, Columbian Juan Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) who had shown his ability when the race first arrived in the Alps. Hot on his heels were Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Épargne), yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) and Cadel Evans (Predictor Lotto) but once he had attacked 10km before the top of the Galibier he could not be bettered. Marcus Burghardt (T- Mobile) collided with a dog during the early part of the day but was able to remount and continue the race, the only damage being to his front wheel. The dog strolled away from the incident unperplexed.
STAGE WINNER – Juan Mauricio Soler (Barloworld)
2nd Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Épargne) – 3rd Cadel Evans (Predictor Lotto)
YELLOW (individual) – Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
POLKA DOT (climber) – Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
GREEN (points) – Tom Boonen (Quickstep Innergetic)
WHITE (under 25) – Alberto Contador (Discovery)
COMBATIVE – Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery)
LEADING TEAM – Caisse d’Epargne