Lannemezan, a village to the east of Tarbes, hosts the start of a Tour stage for the fifth time. Just like in 2002 and 2004 the finish is at Plateau de Beille.
The first obstacle is the Col de Portet d’Aspet, a 14.3 kilometres climb at 4.2%, but the average grade is not the whole story. Since the first 10 kilometres are relatively easy the steep parts have to be somewhere else. And yes, in the final 4.3 kilometres of the Aspet the gradient fluctuates between 8.3% and 12.6%.
The Portet d’Aspet a ‘golden oldie’. In 1910 Octave Lapize got the scoop to be the first to crest the col.
The sad story behind the climb is the dead of Fabio Casartelli twenty years ago. The unfortunate Italian crashed on the descent and hit his with head on a concrete pole. Four kilometres under the top (coming from Aspet) is a monument in his honour.
Col de la Core
The next obstacle goes by the name of Col de la Core. Featuring for the seventh time in the Tour, the climb is rather similar to the Col de Portet d’Aspet with the easies section at the bottom. The ascent totals 17.5 kilometres at 5.1% and the second part is toughest. In 2011 it was Frenchman Mickaël Delage to crest the De La Core first.
Port de Lers
In the long descent and in the valleys of the river Salat and river Arac riders can try to regroup, but then it’s vertical again. Starting in Massat the climb up Port de Lers is 16.6 kilometres at 5.2%. In 1995 the Port de Lers debuted in the Tour, with Marco Pantani being the first atop, and since then was the ascent featured four times. The last occasion was in 2012 with Portuguese Sergio Paulinho taking the most mountain points.
Plateau de Beille
Port de Lers is nothing compared to the final climb. Plateau de Beille is a beast of 15.8 kilometres at 7.9%. It is a constant toil with no opportunities to relax and catch your breath.
In 1998 Marco Pantani crushed his competition at Plateau de Beille. In 2002 and 2004 it was Lance Armstrong climbing to victory, whilst Belgian Jelle Vanendert took his turn in 2011.
2015’s stage 12 will see the fifth Tour de France climb in history to the ski-resort of Plateau de Beille.
Tour de France 2015 stage 12: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Route and profile Plateau de Beille
Streetview Plateau de Beille
Start and finish at Google Maps