After yesterday’s rest day, today marks the start of the third and final week of the 2014 Tour de France. The bunch departs from Carcassonne for the first of three tough mountain stages in a row. The consolation today is that the finish line is at the bottom of a descent.
Col de Portet-d’Aspet and Col des Ares
The first part of the stage is hilly, the real climbing starts at the halfway point. The Col de Portet-d’Aspet (1,069 metres) is not the trickiest col in Tour history; nevertheless it has parts with gradients of up to 10.6%. The descent marks the site of one of the more tragic Tour incidents, when Fabio Casartelli crashed in stage 15 in 1995. He later died in hospital form his injuries. Raymond Poulidor had a lucky escape on the same descent in 1973 when he fell into a ravine.
Port de Balès
Back in the valley the riders face a small uncategorized climb and directly after this begin the Col des Ares. A short climb to an altitude of 797 metres, the summit is reached after 176.5 kilometres in the saddle.
Twenty kilometers after the Col des Ares and the road goes up again near Mauléon-Barousse. In slightly under 20 kilometres, the riders must overcome 1,155 vertical metres to Port de Balès. It’s the fourth time since 2007 that this pass is featured.
The official road book says the climb starts at an altitude of 852 metres. From this point it’s 11.7 kilometres to the top, which means the average gradient is 7.7%.
Luchon and Thomas Voeckler
It’s 21.5 kilometres from Port de Balès to the finish line in Bagnères de Luchon. Thomas Voeckler might be feeling lucky today as he’s already won two stages into the town in 2010 and 2012.
Tour de France 2014 stage 16: Images and more
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