In a way, this day can be divided into two distinct halves. The first half holds two Category 3 climbs and a few uncategorized ones before descending into the Saône River valley for the intermediate sprint in Régnié-Durette.
The stage climbs back into the hills, introducing the first of three categorized climbs that will likely determine the stage outcome and potentially shake up the General Classification (GC) standings if the Tour's overall contenders aren't attentive.
These three climbs—the Category 3 Col de la Casse Froide (5.2km at 6.1 percent), the Category 2 Col de la Croix Montmain (5.5km at 6.1 percent), and the Category 2 Col de la Croix Rosier (5.3km at 7.6 percent)—follow on narrow, technical roads. It presents the perfect opportunity for the top riders to showcase their abilities, and we anticipate a breakaway filled with such riders attempting to escape and vie for the stage victory unless they have already taken the lead.
However, there's a twist, Julian Alaphilippe! At the top of the final climb, the Col de la Croix Rosier, bonus seconds of 8, 5, and 2, are up for grabs. Given the tight battle between Denmark's Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Slovenia's Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) in the Tour's General Classification, it won't be surprising if their respective teams rally to bring the race back together before the final climb, providing their leaders a chance to gain a few more seconds.
For Jumbo-Visma, there's an added incentive to keep the race front intact: Belgium's Wout van Aert is eager to secure a stage win and is capable of keeping up with the leaders during the final climb. This mirrors his performance in Stage 2, where he joined the leading group over the Category 2 Jaizkibel but narrowly missed winning the stage in San Sebastián.
This stage should also hold significance for American rider Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), the current leader of the Tour's King of the Mountains. Powless holds an 18-point advantage over Austria's Felix Gall (AG2R Citroën). With 16 points available from the day's five categorized climbs, the 26-year-old can hold his position before the Hors Categorie summit finish atop the Grand Colombier in Stage 13 on Friday, where 20 points are at stake.
Notable riders to watch include those in contention for the stage victory. If a small, elite group manages to crest the final climb or regroups during the descent, Jumbo-Visma will undoubtedly do everything possible to secure the win for van Aert. Additionally, Denmark's Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek) warrants attention as he was part of the breakaway in Stage 10 to Issoire and will likely attempt a similar feat in Stage 12, which features an even more demanding profile and provides an excellent opportunity for the Danish champion and recent Tour de Suisse winner.
When it comes to watching the stage, regardless of who emerges victorious and how it promises to be a dramatic race, we recommend tuning in before the second series of climbs, around 10:00 a.m. EDT. If that's too early, given it's a weekday, try to catch the action before the final climb, the Col de la Croix Rosier, which the riders are expected to reach approximately 40 minutes later. The stage's finish is estimated to be around 11:30 a.m. EDT.