Following the start in Lourdes the riders who are eyeing up a place in the breakaway could launch their attacks on Côte de Loucrup, which is a 1.8 kilometres climb at 7.2% with its crest at kilometre 7. If they didn’t succeed another chance looms after 36 kilometres. The Côte de Capvern-les-Bais climbs for 3.4 kilometres at 5.1% and is crested at kilometre 40.
The route continues on the flat to the foot of the Col d’Aspin. The 12 kilometres climb at 6.5% is crested at kilometre 78.5. Although the Aspin featured in many editions of the Tour de France the race seldom finishes on this summit. When the climb is in the finale it usually precedes a short drop to arrival place Lac du Payolle. Like it did in 2016, when Stephen Cummings soloed to victory.
Now, the riders plunge down to Sainte-Marie-de-Campan and turn left to tackle the Tourmalet. The ascent is not ridden from foot to top, but the remaining 17.1 kilometres at 7.3% are arduous enough. The first 6 kilometres are relatively easy, but the rest of the slope is marked by 8% plus gradients. The Tourmalet is an iconic ascent on the Tour. Looking at the last decade, there were only two editions without the Pyrenees giant – in 2013 and 2017.
The Tourmalet is crested halfway through the 19th stage – at kilometre 108 to be precise. Following the descent to Argelès-Gazost the riders hit the Col des Bordères – 8.6 kilometres at 5.8% – and after a short descent the Col de Soulor kicks in. This is one of the shortest yet steepest climbs of the day – 7 kilometres long and averaging 8.4%.
Hardly any time for a breather, as the Soulor seamlessly changes its name to Aubisque and on we go, although there actually is a difference. The Aubisque has an iconic ring to it, but the climb is not as hard as its predecessor. The first 2 kilometres are a false flat, then the gradients are hovering around 4% for 3 kilometres before the last 2.5 kilometres climb uphill at 7%. The Soulor has not been awarded a KOM, instead the Soulor and Aubisque are seen as one ascent, amounting to 16.6 kilometres and averaging 4.9%
It’s been a while since the Tour last climbed the Aubisque. Six editions ago Thomas Voeckler was the first rider to crest and he went on to win the stage in Bagnères-de-Luchon, 140 kilometres down the road. Just like in 2012, the stage does not end at the Aubisque, although the finish lies much closer this time. Following a 17 kilometres descent and 3 kilometres of on the (false) flat the winner crosses the line in Laruns.
The last Grand Tour arrival on the Aubisque was in 2016 when Robert Gesink claimed the 14th stage of the Vuelta a Espana. He did so after a climb from Laruns, that is the side that is now descended.
The first three riders on the line win time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds. The intermediate sprint (at kilometre 59.5) does not come with a time bonus, it’s a sprint for green jersey points.
Read also: results/race report 19th stage 2018 Tour de France.
Tour de France 2018 stage 19: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Climb details Col du Tourmalet
Climb details Col des Borderes en Aubisque
Profile final kilometres
Route final kilometres
Streetview Top Tourmalet
Tourmalet (east) at strava.com