Pau has seen more Tour action than any other town barring Paris and Bordeaux.
The most intriguing factor today is the Col du Tourmalet. At 50 kilometres out, the famous climb will feature just to wear riders down before the final climb., and will not be decisive in itself.
Leading up to the Tourmalet, the route is quite stunning with nice slopes, a small col at an altitude of 470 metres – this bumpy terrain could see a breakaway build up a nice lead. The real fun begins when the riders reach the village of Campan.
Col du Tourmalet is often mis-interpreted as meaning ‘bad detour’, which is quite apt for weary cyclists. The Col featured first in 1910 and is the most climbed Tour mountain.
The climb itself is a treat at the start but brutal at the end. At the base it’s not steep, but the gradient creeps up as it progresses. The total length is 17.1 kilometres with an average gradient of 7.3%.
After the hard work, riders enjoy a descent of 35 kilometres and then it’s back to business again when they reach the base of the final climb to the ski resort Hautacam. It’s the fifth time this ascent is included in the Tour de France. Luc Leblanc won here in 1994, in 1996 Mr 60% Bjarne Riis, in 2000 Javier Otxoa and in 2008 Juan José Cobo took the win.
The climb to Hautacam is 13.6 kilometres long with an average gradient of 7.8%.
Tour de France 2014 stage 18: Images and more
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