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The old town of Belfort overlooking the fortifications with the Lion (photo Régis Antoine)

July 7 update : Stage 8, the second medium mountain stage, will start in the fortified city of Belfort, famous for its Lion, a monumental sculpture by Frédéric Bartholdi who also is the creator of the Statue of Liberty. From there, the stage will go South, passing Sochaux, city of the French auto manufacturer Peugeot, to enter the Jura mountain with the Côte de Bondeval (4.4 km, 3.9%, cat. 4), Côte du Passage de la Douleur (which could be translated as the Passage of Pain Hill) (3.8 km, 6.4%, cat. 3) and Côte de Maison Rouge. The course will then turn East to enter Switzerland.

The race will continue its crossing of the Jura in the Nord-western part of Switzerland with three 2nd category climbs, Côte de Saignelégier (7.8 km, 6.1%), Côte de Saulcy (4.6 km, 8.6%, profile) and Côte de la Caquerelle (4.3 km, 7.6%) and finaly the first category Col de la Croix (the Pass of the Cross). This will be the last climb of the day and the shortest with only 3.7 km, but not the easiest with its 9.2 % average grade and a 17% section near the summit (see profile). With only 17 km left, no doubt the GC favorites will test their rivals, particularly those who lost time in the first week.

Once down from the Col de la Croix there are only 10 km of flat race left to go to Porrentruy, second town of the Swiss Jura with 6,679 inhabitants, host of this 8th stage. Other than the first 15 km and last 10 km of this stage, the course is continually up and down, passing seven categorized climbs. With such a profile we can expect the a break to succeed.

If not for his knee injury Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), winner of a similar stage last year, would be one of the favorites. Another specialist of this kind of stage is Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) who could also claim the Yellow Jersey. Peter Sagan might get over these climbs and demonstrate his great versatility with another win. Also, watch for Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM), who as come into this race in fine form apparently, as the Polka-dot jersey competition starts in earnest with this stage. — Arnaud Hirtz