Today's 210.5k stage through the Ardèche and into Lozère will be tough, although not as tough as the Alps nor what awaits the riders in the Pyrenées, but it will be a hard grind. Hot again but probably not as hot as yesterday on the road from Bourg-de-Péage and Mende.
There are three First Category climbs and two Seconds. The stage finishes at the top of a Second Category climb – the Côte de la Croix-Neuve Montée Laurent Jalabert. This climb is only 3.1 km but it is steep – an average gradient of 10.1%, so surely Contador and Schleck will be head to head here each trying to claw a few crucial seconds advantage. I will be surprised if one of them doesn't gain a little bit of time here.
About halfway through the stage passes Le Gerbier de Jonc, the source of La Loire, which is as you know at 1000 kms France's longest river that drains two fifths of the country. Its source is only around 100k from the Mediterranean and, as if sensing the easy option, La Loire heads south - south west for its first 15K or so before making a reluctant loop to starting heading north and then westwards to the Atlantic Ocean.