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July 6 update: The first five and likely six stages haven't produced any changes at the top 5 of the general classification. In other words, the order of the prologue results have stayed intact throughout the first week so the first (medium) mountainous stage will be eagerly anticipated to liven things up. (We could rant about the lack of time bonuses and the liberal application of the same time rule at this point.)
Overall, Stage 7 isn't a difficult mountain stage, but it does end with a difficult summit finish, just one of three summit finishes at this year's Tour. The finishing ski resort climb, Planche des Belles Filles which translates to "board of the pretty girls", will be featured for the first time in the Tour. At 5.9 km long @ 8.5 % average grade, it is the only difficult road biking climb in this area of the Vosges mountains of north-eastern France near the border with Germany in the Haute-Saône department.
As ex-pro Daniel Lloyd points out in a detailed video preview, at the end of this 199 km stage is a 22% stretch during the final 500m.
The two cat 3 climbs just past the half way point of the stage will be used as a launching pad for the main break and if the right mix of riders join in it could certainly succeed with an unexpected rider taking over the Yellow Jersey.
In any case, this will be Fabian Cancellara's last day in the Yellow Jersey and the winner of this stage will likely be the new Mountains Classification leader. A logical pick for this stage would be Rui Costa (Movistar) because he won the first medium mountainous stage at last year's Tour and he just came off an impressive mountain stage win and overall title at Tour de Suisse less than month ago. Because he's not considered a GC threat for the Tour, he might even get in the main break which is how we won his Tour stage last year. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), Samuel Sanchez and Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) are also among the favorites to win this stage. — Steve
Vosges Mountains — en.wikipedia.org