The queen stage of the Tour de France ends on Wednesday on a road that was only put into use a year ago.

Organizer ASO hopes to have found a new Tour classic with the 2,304 meter high and very irregular Col de la Loze.

"It will be all or nothing for every classification rider."

A year ago, Christian Prudhomme stood proudly on the seventh highest pass in France, with a view of the snow-capped peaks of Les Trois Vallées and Mont Blanc in the distance.

"This is the prototype for a col in the 21st century," said the Tour boss on top of the Col de la Loze.

It was five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault who advised Prudhomme to take a look at the climb above ski village Méribel.

And of course the Frenchman was enthusiastic, because the ASO has been constantly looking for even more spectacular courses for the biggest cycling races in the world in recent years.

"It is a unique climb", says sports director Merijn Zeeman of Jumbo-Visma about the Col de la Loze, which he explored several times with his riders in the run-up to the Tour.

"It is a beautiful col on a very special road. In winter it is a ski slope, now we go up by bike."

The final climb of the seventeenth stage is no less than 21.5 kilometers long and has an average gradient of 7.8 percent.

"It's a tough thing, very irregular," says Zeeman.

"And of course we go up a lot. What people want to see at home is a man-to-man fight between the classification riders. Well, that will certainly happen on this climb. Every top player knows that it will be all or nothing on this col . "

The profile of the Col de la Loze.

(Source: ASO)

'This is the toughest finish of this Tour'

It is especially the last 7 kilometers that make the col unique.

That road was only opened in May last year and specially built for cyclists.

It is part of the 'Via 3 Vallées', which should ultimately provide an (electric) bicycle connection between the winter sports resorts of Courchevel, Méribel and Val Thorens.

Because the last part of the Col de la Loze is not intended for cars, a series of steep walls could be built one after the other.

"It looks a bit like the French Wall of Huy", Prudhomme refers to the infamous final climb of the Belgian classic the Walloon Arrow.

In the last 4.5 kilometers, the average gradient is well above 10, but the gradient is constantly changing.

At 2.5 kilometers from the line is a strip of 24 percent and just before the line it is just 18 percent, but there are also almost flat parts.

"There is nothing regular about this climb," said Thierry Gouvenou, the Tour's course designer.

"It goes from flat to 20 percent and then to 10 percent. You have to change tempo all the time and riders don't like that. You can't find a comparable pass anywhere in France. It promises to be the toughest finish of this Tour. "

"You can easily lose half an hour on this ride"

The Col de la Loze was tested for the first time in a professional race last August, when the eighth stage of the Tour of the Future finished on the more than 2,300 meters high pass.

However, the promises only drove the more than 20 kilometers long climb.

The Tour peloton has to cover 170 kilometers on Wednesday and first also crosses the Col de la Madeleine (17.1 kilometers at 8.4 percent).

"It will be a very tough day", predicts Tadej Pogacar, the number two in the general classification.

"If you have a good day, you can take a few seconds, but if you have a bad day, you can easily lose half an hour."

The seventeenth stage starts on Wednesday at 12.30 pm in Grenoble.

The finish is expected between 5:00 PM and 5:40 PM.

See also: View the classifications of the Tour de France with Dumoulin in ninth place