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Tour de France - Cycling: Stage seven preview

Friday sees the first big day in the mountains in the Tour de France, with the summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles, and who would bet against another show of strength from the majestic Tadej Pogacar.

The sight of the daunting run up to La Planche, the first mighty hill of the 2022 Tour de France, will fill most of the GC contenders with dread - but not as much as two-time champion Tadej Pogacar wearing yellow will.

The Slovenian superstar sent out a crushing statement of intent to the field yesterday by seeing off all his big rivals in a sprint finish in Longwy to take total control of a race he has been cut to 1/4 to win.

Now, with the help of his UAE team-mates, he'll be looking to dictate the tempo on the first big day in the mountains, where the likes of Jonas Vingegaard, Geraint Thomas and Primoz Roglic need to show they can stay with him.

What:

Tour de France, Stage Seven

Where:

Tomblaine to La Super Planche des Belles Filles

When:

12:15 UK Time, Friday 8th July, 2022

How to Watch:

Live on ITV4, Eurosport, Discovery+ & GCN+

Stage Seven route details

After three days of humps and bumps in north-east France and over the border in Belgium, the peloton braces itself for its first full-on day in the mountains.

The first 60km of stage seven after departure from Tomblaine are relatively flat before the riders get out of the saddle for the category three Col de Grosse Pierre - 3.1km at 6.4 per cent.

They descend at pace into the unclassified Col de Menil before, 40km from home, they tackle another cat three bruiser, this time the Col des Croix.

And then comes the biggie, the 7km category one climb up to the line at La Planche des Belles Filles, now a regular high spot on the Tour.

This will be the sixth time in the last decade the ski station up in the Vosges mountains has been used as a staging post, with a roster of winners including the likes of Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Pogacar.

The final ascent to the line boasts an average gradient of just under nine percent, though there are pitches that hit 20 per cent with an unpaved section inside the final kilometre.

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Three to Watch

Tadej Pogacar

He's riding like the champion he is and the sight of La Planche des Belles Filles looming on the horizon might just inspire a second statement in successive days from the hugely impressive Pogacar.

It was on this breath-taking climb in 2020 when Pogacar made the move which won him his first yellow jersey. Back then, La Planche was the final climb of a 22km mountain time trial on the penultimate day of the race.

Primoz Roglic went into the stage with a healthy advantage over his compatriot, but would go on to lose two minutes to Pogacar, who produced a stunning ride, took yellow for the first time and 24 hours later was crowned race winner for the first time.

Pogacar, now with yellow on his back, is in the kind of form that makes him a firm favourite to take stage glory once again.

Dylan Teuns

Thursday's up-and-down finish to the stage played into the hands of Belgian puncher Dylan Teuns, who crossed the line in sixth and don't rule out Teuns in Friday’s stage - after all, he's won on La Planche before.

The Bahrain Victorious rider, no threat to the podium, was part of a 14-man breakaway in 2019 which had been whittled down to four by the start of the final climb.

And Teuns was the strong man, going away in the final kilometre. If he gets into a break on Friday that can keep the peloton at bay, he becomes a real contender.

Adam Yates

Ineos Grenadiers have made a solid enough start to the Tour and they have one or two GC riders equipped to make a statement up La Planche.

Dani Martinez, Geraint Thomas and Tom Pidcock would all be contenders, with Pidcock in particular impressing sticking with Pogacar on Thursday, but Yates is also riding with serious intent.

The Englishman, who like Pidcock was right in the mix in the see-saw finale to Stage six, has worn yellow before, has conquered big hills before and, if he's feeling good, has the strength to give it a real go.

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