On Thursday July 18 from 12.30pm (CET) the riders of the Tour de France leave Gap and head towards the infamous Alpe d’Huez stage of the race. It is set to be a dramatic day with riders facing the daunting task of climbing the mountain not once, but twice in one day.
Between 700,000 and one million spectators are expected to gather along the route to show their support. Many people have been camping out for several weeks around the 21 bends of the ascent, to watch the climatic and often dangerous part of the tour.
Following the grueling ascent to the first station riders will, for the first time in the history of the race, have to take on a second peak – the category two ‘Col de Sarenne’.
However, it is not the second ascent that has caused concerns among team members, but the terrifyingly steep downhill section in between the two. Weather conditions are also expected to make matters worse with forecasts of thunderstorms and rain throughout the Oisian mountains.
Race organisers ASO are hoping the weather holds off, or else they may be forced to cancel the second climb completely.
Here is a selection of images and videos shared on social networks related to the epic stage 18 of the Tour de France: