Located close to the Pyrenees, Pau is a popular spot for mountain stages in the Tour de France. No less than 67 times the town hosted La Grande Boucle.
It all starts out quietly with a first half that’s flat to gently sloping, while the infamous Col de Tourmalet is crested after 86 kilometres in the saddle. Last year the pass featured in stage 11 (win Majka), but this time it is conquered from the other side, making it a 16.8 kilometres climb at 7.7% with a steepest section at 11.6%.
Following a drop, which is as long as the ascent, comes the Hourquette d’Ancizan – 22 kilometres at 4% with a steepest section at 12.2%. For the first time in Tour de France history the mountain is climbed on the western slopes.
Col de Val Louron is the next hurdle – 7.4 kilometres at 8.3% with maximum grades at 13%. The 2014 Tour de France climbed the pass in stage 17, leading to Pla d’Adet with Rafal Majka (him again) taking the flowers.
Mentioned stage also featured Col de Peyresourde. This time it is no different. After 18 kilometres of climbing – at an average grade of 4.9% and a maximum grade of 11.7% – the summit is crested with 14.5 kilometres left to race. As these are mainly downhill, the finale suits fast descenders.
Arrival place Bagnères-de-Luchon is a famous spa in the Pyrenees. Back in 1910, the town hosted the first two mountain stages in Tour de France history, both won by Octave Lapize. The last time La Grande Boucle visited was in 2012 with Thomas Voeckler soloing to victory.
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses at 10, 6 and 4 seconds.
Race report/results 8th stage 2016 Tour de France.
Tour de France 2016 stage 8: Route maps, height profiles, etc.
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Climb details Col du Tourmalet
Climb details Col de Val Louron-Azet
Climb details Col de Peyresourde