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AndCote de Buttertubs we’re off! Le Tour departs grandly from Yorkshire’s Leeds through the majestic countryside of North Yorkshire on its way to the spa town of Harrogate. 3 categorised climbs on this stage might end the hopes of that yellow jersey for some sprinters but with so much at stake expect those sprinter’s teams to make sure that doesn’t happen. A distinctly rolling finish into Harrogate as well but with the speed of the peloton at that point expect the momentum to get even the heaviest of sprinters easily over the rises.

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GhisalloAfter having a nice chat with Emma Pooley while descending Yorkshire’s bunting festooned Cragg Vale last night she mentioned she was heading off to race the Giro this Friday. Giro? That must mean hills right? It sure does, and some corkers too.  Here are the key climbs for the women’s Giro d’Italia that runs from Friday 4th to Sunday 13th July.

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Grimselpass and FurkapassSwitzerland has some of the most dramatic climbs in the world but despite their jaw dropping curves the gradients tend to be at the more manageable end of the scale. Two time trials break up the week so expect the GC to be a controlled affair with the main favourites trying to make the difference in the time trials.

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StrinesThe final 40km of stage 2 of Le Tour is likely to be action packed. The terrain will see to it that attacks will come and the cream of the world’s professional cyclists will emerge at the front to do battle until the finish in Sheffield. The roads here are largely within the Strines region which cyclists from Yorkshire and the Peak District know very well. Many local pros, past and present, have utilised the repeated steep climbs in the area to hone their racing fitness. The Strines Road itself is a notoriously steep stretch of tarmac which begins at the A616 at Midhopestones and terminates at the A57 after 15 rollercoaster kilometres. The Tour riders won’t cover the full length but they will tackle the most severe sections before turning off east towards High Bradfield and further sharp ascents on the approach to Sheffield.

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Montée de Finhaut-ÉmossonOne of my favourite races of the Pro Cycling calendar, the Critérium du Dauphiné.  Named after the Dauphiné province in south-eastern France’s high mountains this race is always packed with the top Tour de France contenders performing their last major competition prior to the Grand Depart. Next time we’ll see this top class field it will be on the streets of Yorkshire!  Taking in many of the famous climbs of the Alps with 3 mountain top finishes this year’s race will be a great warm up for the spectators as well as the riders.

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A Snowy Passo dello StelvioThe 3 weeks of the 2014 Giro d’Italia are almost up and although the snowy high point of the race (Passo dello Stelvio) has been and gone, by far the toughest climb and final showdown of the race is yet to come – Monte Zoncolan.  Prior to that though are 2 more days of climbing including an individual, mountain time trial. Will Rigoberto Uran be able to turn around his deficit to Nairo Quintana? Here are all the details of the climbs of these last three mountain stages.

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MontecampioneThe Giro d’Italia is about to get serious! The sprinters will now be fighting to make the time limits as the roads shoot skywards with the next three stages tackling 6 category 1 or above climbs including the Passo Dello Stelvio which at 2,758m is the high point of the race. Fingers crossed the poor weather continuing to plague this year’s Giro (similar to last year) will abate to avoid the cancelling or rerouteing of any of these stages.

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Jenkin Road - taken by James AllenJenkin Road is the final climb on stage 2 of the 2014 Tour de France. Its position on the route, only minutes from finish in Sheffield, is crucial and is likely to influence the final outcome. Jenkin is only short but it is steep enough to be a significant challenge to the riders of Le Tour, especially as it comes after 195 hilly kilometres.

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Cippo CarpegnaNow that the Giro has left Ireland things should well hot up on the GC (General Classification) front and apart from the two individual timetrials the biggest moves will be made on the many spectacular climbs that will need to be conquered. There were a few climbs in Ireland but as we all knew, they were never going to cause even the sprinters any concerns but for the remainder of this first week there are many climbs that will cause some serious time splits.

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Giro 2014 stage 3Following stage 2’s scenic trip down coastline of Northern Ireland, stage 3 will take the peloton south from Armagh to the finish in the heart of Dublin. Similar to stage 2 this stage is one for the sprinters with only a couple of early climbs to allow an escape to get clear, scoop up the King Of the Mountain points, grab some TV time for their sponsors before being caught by the sprinters teams within sight of the finish. Although you’ll probably see little of these stage 3 climbs on the television coverage, you might fancy heading out to watch the race or to try them for yourself so here’s all you need to know.

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