Following the start in Lourdes the riders set off in the direction of the Col d’Aspin. The first 66 kilometres are on flat to rolling roads before the Col d’Aspin looms, an 11.9 kilometres climb at 6.7%. 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 in 2016, when Stephen Cummings soloed to victory.
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 17.2 kilometres at 7.4% are arduous enough. 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 – at kilometre 108 to be precise. Following the descent to Argelès-Gazost the riders hit the Col des Bordères – 13.2 kilometres at 5.2% – and after a short descent the Col de Soulor kicks in. This is the shortest yet steepest of the day – 7.2 kilometres in length 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 9.8 kilometres climb is not as hard as its predecessor. The first section is false flat, either up or down, before the next 6 kilometres go up at 5.5%, while the last kilometre before the summit is averaging 7.5%.
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 20 kilometres descent the winner crosses the line in Laruns.
The last Grand Tour arrival on the Aubisque was in 2016 when Robert Gesink claimed the 14nd stage in the Vuelta a Espana. He did so after a climb from Laruns, so the side that’s now descended.
Tour de France 2018 stage 19: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Route and profile 19th stage
Climb details Col du Tourmalet
Climb details Col des Borderes en Aubisque