Pau and La Grande Boucle belong to each other like a dog to its boss. In last eight editions, the Tour de France visited the town in the Pyrenees’ foothills eight times. More often for a departure, although last year’s race saw a bunch sprint in the streets of Pau with Marcel Kittel speeding to his fifth victory of that edition ahead of Dylan Groenewegen and Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Chances are that the 18th stage of the 2018 Tour de France will come down to a bunch sprint, too. It is the last opportunity for the fast men before the grand finale in Paris.
The biggest hurdles on the 18th stage are the Côte de Madiran and the Côte d’Anos. The first one is a hill of 1.2 kilometres at 7% (KOM at kilometres 53.5) and the second climbs for 2.1 kilometres at 4.6%. The mountain points on the Anos are up for grabs with 18.5 kilometres remaining. The route continues on the flat for 6.5 kilometres before the plunge, with one hairpin, runs to the false flat descending finale. Sprint teams should be aware of a sharp bend with 1.2 kilometres out.
One more thing about the love between Pau and La Grande Boucle. In the race’s history the town was departure place on 52 occasions, while it served as a finish fifty times. The story of Trie-sur-Baïse stands in stark contrast, as the village to the northeast of Tarbes makes its first appearance in the Tour de France.
The first three riders on the line win time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds. The intermediate sprint (at kilometre 73.5) does not come with a time bonus, it’s a sprint for green jersey points.
Tour de France 2018 stage 18: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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