A cloudy and cool morning greeted the Haute Route Alps peloton as they started Stage 4 from Alp d’Huez to Serre Chevalier Briançon. Following yesterday’s massive effort, many were relieved to have the Queen Stage behind them and looking forward to a more moderate 80-kilometre stage today, featuring the Col du Lautaret and Col du Granon.
Gwill Morris thought the steady climb up the Lautaret was a welcome follow up to Stage 3: “It’s a pretty good day to have after a big day, because if you’re feeling really tired you can take the first bit on the Lautaret as fast or as slow as you like, then do the fast descent, and just grind up the Granon.”
While the first climb of Stage 4 may have been moderate, the final ascent of the Col du Granon is one of the toughest climbs in the region. It’s not long, at just 11 kilometres, but it averages 9% and finishes at higher than 2400 metres above sea level.
For Timothy Gray, the combination of the Col du Lautaret and Col du Granon led to a tactically-challenging stage: “I wanted to be in a big group going over the timing mat to go up the Lautaret and down, and then on the Granon you just do your own thing. But the tactics are whether to stop at feed stations or stay in the group, managing your food and water and clothing.”
The individual time trial up the Col d’Izoard awaits the peloton on Thursday. Setting off at 20-second intervals, riders will test themselves against the clock on one of the most iconic climbs in cycling. Men’s Solo race leader Ruari Grant will try to hold off a determined rival in Guillaume Bourgeios, who ended Grant’s streak of stage wins by winning Stage 4 by 24 seconds. There was a similar result in the Women’s Solo race, with Catherine Greves taking the stage win ahead of Linda Farczadi, who still leads the general classification.