ANNECY, France (AFP) – Saturday's penultimate stage of this year's Tour de France may ultimately mean little in the general classification but could still prove to be a memorable occasion with another mountaintop finish on the menu.
The last stage in the Alps before the Tour concludes in Paris is a short one, with the peloton travelling just 125 kilometres from Annecy to the finish high above the town at Annecy-Semnoz.
However, there will be no shortage of challenges along the way, with the category two climb of the Cote du Puget coming just 12.5 kilometres in and being followed by a trio of third-category ascents.
The peloton will head south towards Chambery before returning north and arriving at the first-category climb of Mont Revard just outside Aix-les-Bains.
After that, they will head for Le Semnoz, a 10.7-km ascent at an average gradient of 8.5 percent.
The finish means that there is a potential sting in the tail on Saturday for those riders who think that the race is as good as over after the efforts of the previous two days.
Chris Froome appears to have the yellow jersey sewn up, but the battle to join him on the podium remains very much alive, with just 47 seconds separating Alberto Contador in second from Joaquim Rodriguez in fifth.
In addition, a host of riders, including Pierre Rolland and Nairo Quintana, are aiming to win the polka dot jersey and deny Froome what would be a remarkable double.
But Froome himself may still fancy another mountaintop triumph to go with his stunning successes at Ax-Trois-Domaines and on Mont Ventoux.
After storms marked the end of Friday's stage, rain is again expected at the finish on Saturday but conditions are likely to be fine at the beginning.
The penultimate stage of the 100th Tour is scheduled to begin at 1130 GMT, with the arrival at Le Semnoz expected around 1500 GMT.