• The final hurdle... Will Chris Froome hold onto yellow by day's end? (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The final showdown. On the Alpe. For the first time, 24 hours from Paris. But not before the 30km long Col de la Croix de Fer. All in 110.5 kilometres.
By
25 Jul 2015 - 3:50 PM  UPDATED 26 Jul 2015 - 6:06 AM

In 2011, a near carbon copy of the original version of this stage - before a landslide saw the scrapping of the Cols du Télégraphe and Galibier, replaced by the Croix de Fer - appeared on the third-to-last day. Other than time trials it was the shortest en ligne stage of the Tour, as it is today.

The stage previous, Andy Schleck rode magnificently to claim the day and maillot jaune atop the Galibier, wresting it off the shoulders of erstwhile race leader Thomas Voeckler. The Luxembourger knew he needed to do more of the same en route to L'Alpe d'Huez because the following day, the penultimate of that year's Tour, consisted of a 42.5 kilometre time trial around Grenoble - and everyone including himself knew how lousy he would be at that.

Despite the onslaught from the likes of Alberto Contador and the brothers Schleck, however, just as he did on route to the Galibier, Cadel Evans, the man lying third overall, held firm on the Alpe, finishing 57 seconds behind stage winner Pierre Rolland and, most importantly, with the yellow jersey. The Aussie Battler knew his day would come and sure enough it did - the Australian taking the golden fleece for good in Grenoble as Andy's Achilles saw him brought to heel in the race against the clock, eventually losing the race by one minute and 34 seconds.

"Will this be the day where the Colombian, like Carlos Sastre did on Alpe d'Huez in 2008, pulls a rabbit out of the hat?"

With a profile reminiscent of a soap opera, Monsieur Prudhomme is spot-on when he says this will be 100 kilometres de suspense. The one who wins on the Alpe may not be the one who wins overall - but he who cannot tame its twenty-one vertiginous bends will surely not be crowned champion of the 102nd Tour.

It is not the first time Tour organisers have placed a summit finish on the eve of the stage to the Champs-Élysées: in 2009 the penultimate day ended atop Mont Ventoux, where Spaniard Juan Manuel Gárate was first across the post; more recently, the second-to-last stage of the 2013 edition ended in Annecy-Semnoz, where Tour debutant Nairo Quintana's stage victory saw him move from third to second overall.

Tour Leaders
Tadej POGAČAR
Tadej
POGAČAR
Mark CAVENDISH
Mark
CAVENDISH
Tadej POGAČAR
Tadej
POGAČAR
Tadej POGAČAR
Tadej
POGAČAR
View Overall Standings

Two years on and two years physically more mature, will this be the day where the Colombian, like Carlos Sastre did on Alpe d'Huez in 2008, pulls a rabbit out of the hat and moves from second to first?

Christian Prudhomme, Directeur du Tour de France, says:

"Appearing for the first time 24 hours from the finish of the Tour, the climb to l'Alpe-d'Huez could still trouble the general classification. Just as long as the rivals of the maillot jaune still believe in their chances, the ultra-dynamic course won't leave the slightest opportunity to relax... In other words, 100 kilometres of pure drama!"

Matt White, Orica-GreenEDGE head sports director, says:

"I haven't had a good look at the updated stage... It's the only stage we didn't recon in the Alps or the Pyrénées. But whatever climbs they put in or take out, I don't think it will change much, (in terms of) the way the stage will be raced.

"Unless you're one of the four teams in the Tour with a pure sprinter, basically your Tour de France finishes after today. Teams with a climber will be trying to put their guy in a breakaway, or, if you've missed it, teams with a climbing leader, whether or not they're riding for GC, will be trying to win the most prestigious stage of the Tour de France."

Who will win Stage 20 of Le Tour?
Poll
Thanks for voting*
* Please note percentages are rounded to one decimal place.

The SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker is the ultimate TDF app experience
This year’s Tour de France on SBS will offer you more than ever before with exclusive live start to finish coverage of every stage through the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker.