Rolland is making his way up the climb, ticking over the pedals and looking pretty comfortable.
Saxo still setting tempo in the main group. Sky is right behind them.
Saxo leading the group almost 11min behind Rolland. They're not going slow.
Rolland has a 1:15 advantage over a 21-rider group, the day's breakaway, which Rolland once was part of.
The men in the chase group are: De Marchi, De Clercq, Burghardt, Moinard, Bakelants, Kloden, Geniez, Bardet, Hernandez, Nieve, Sicard, Costa, Plaza, Coppel, Navarro, Serpa, Gesink, Nordhaug, T. Dumoulin and Geschke.
It definitely feels like rain here at the finish. The sky is darkening as well. The forecast today called for on and off showers all afternoon. I think we've even heard a rumble of thunder or two. Things could get interesting on the final climb and descent it the weather goes south on us.
From LeTour.fr: Saxo-Tinkoff light it up at the front of the peloton
There are five men from the Saxo-Tinkoff team at the front of the peloton that was 11'00" behind but the next check is likely to have it a lot closer to Rolland as we see Tosatto now setting a very rapid pace on the approach to the col de l'Epine.
Rain on the Col de la Croix Fry could make for a very treacherous descent into Le Grand Bornand.
Not only does this stage feature five categorized climbs, but it's also more than 200 km long. So it's tough in more ways than one. Several of the riders said they expected today's stage to be even harder than yesterday's, even if the double ascent of Alpe d'Huez was the climax of this Tour.
Five Saxo's on the front, riding in support of Contador (2nd overall), Kreuziger (4th overall) and Rogers (8th overall)
It sure could, Neal. I just took a look outside and saw some dark clouds to our southwest, kind of in the direction of the Col de la Croix Fry. So it's not an unlikely scenario.
Sky's Peter Kennaugh in back of the race caravan, in a group with green jersey Peter Sagan. Sky's Thomas and Stannard also dropped by pace set by Saxo. Froome may soon be without any teammates.
Rolland is nearing the top of the climb. It looks like he's starting to feel the effects of a long, long day in the saddle.
But he's gritting his teeth and pressing on. He just might have a shot at that polka dot jersey here. If he crests the top of the Croix Fry with more than a couple of minutes lead on the group, the stage win could easily be his as well.
That's still some distance from here, however. There's plenty of time for things to change, especially if the attacks start to fly on the race's final climb.
Sky's Sivtsov also dropped. Froome now has Porte and Lopez left.
Rolland across summit of Epine for maximum points. He's now 2nd in the KOM standings, behind Froome.
39km to go: Rolland leads peloton by 9:30.
Four Saxos left, three Skys, at the front of GC group
Rolland needs only two more points to overtake Froome in the KOM battle outright. But he'll be in polka dots at the start tomorrow anyway, since Froome will be wearing the yellow jersey.
Full result of the col de l'Epine...
The points for Col de l'Epine were won by:
1. Rolland (EUC) 10pts
2. Nieve (EUS) 8pts - at 2'00"
3. Bakelants (RTL) 6pts
4. Coppel (COF) 4pts
5. T. Dumoulin (ARG) 2pts
6. Navarro (COF) 1pt
The total cost of that feed to Sky yesterday was something like 1,400 Swiss Francs. That's one expensive energy gel.
Truthfully, I feel way too much has been made of Froome's "illegal feed". I think if it had been any other rider, there wouldn't have been such outrage. Fact is, this rule is "broken" all the time. Far worse infractions take place: Riders holding on to bottles from the team car, drafting through the caravan, sprinters deviating from their line in field sprint, that are more egregious violations, and don't draw the outrage of Sky's feed yesterday. End of day, it was a calculated cost/benefit. Froome was bonked, and didn't want to see his GC lead ride away. He took the 20sec, and may have saved more. End of story.
I think the bigger story with Froome's feed is the bullet that he dodged. A big bonk on the Alpe could have cost him a big chunk of time. Instead, he continued to gain time on everybody else.
Froome taking the feed is not the same as any other rider. He was fined, many would not be, but most wouldn't risk it as their team does not have the same amount of winnings that Sky has already collected this Tour.
Definitely just heard some thunder here at the finish. Is the rain coming? This final climb and descent could become very interesting.
I'm still recuperating from bonking on TUESDAY!
Speaking of... from LeTour.fr: Feeding allowed until the final kilometre of the final climb
The race jury has announced that feeding is authorised until the final KM of the col de la Croix Fry (ie. 14km from the end of the stage).
Momentarily, we'll have Saxo's Rory Sutherland joining us. I'll be interested to hear his take on it. Then... let's focus on today's stage, eh? Chris Froome is not winning this Tour because he had a gel 5km from the top of Alpe d'Huez.